March 29, 2013

Why my part-time MBA is worth it

My name is Dr. Julius Korley and I have many identities, which include being a Christian, husband, father and small business owner. I graduated from Cornell with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2010 with the hopes of starting my own company. That dream was realized during my translational research experience at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). As a small business owner, I wanted to be well-equipped to manage my company, Affinity Therapeutics, and thus began my journey at Weatherhead in the part-time MBA program. In addition to Affinity, I also work part-time at CWRU as the Associate Director of the Coulter-Case Translational Research Partnership.  With my many roles, there is very little down time.

Becoming a student again

I feel really good about my experience thus far. The people that I have met are amazing and very accomplished. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect other than I'd be working with teams and getting a solid education to better run my start-up. Fortunately, I have been getting all of that and more. The L.E.A.D. course was eye-opening. I learned so much about myself and people that I had worked with in the past. This information has put me in a much better position to run my company, as I now understand about learning styles and how people’s motivations relate to those. This new perspective allows for better working relationships with my colleagues and simply, it helps to get more things done as there is less wasted energy.

My accounting knowledge has increased tremendously as well. I now understand and feel very comfortable with the accounting that goes on in a small business. Before I would see the numbers in the different categories and be confused, but now I understand them and what the appropriate ration could mean to a potential investor. With the first year of my part-time MBA program almost complete, I feel that I'm better prepared to successfully lead my company. I'm also very excited about the network and brand that I'm building as I matriculate through the program, as well as the future and all that it holds.

The pay off versus the time commitment

For small business owners thinking about the program, be prepared to be immersed in a sea of knowledge and to have several faculty members that care about your success. Multiple professors have already made connections for me and recommended services needed by my company. Additionally, be prepared for a significant time commitment with a huge upside. This is no different from any other worth-wild venture; your payoff is directly proportional to the amount of effort you put in. Ask me in a few years and I can detail just how huge of an upside there is to the time commitment!

The first semester of the program was much more than I expected. There was always something to read, an assignment due or a group project to work on. I had very little free time that particular semester, but my second semester feels much better, more like what I can expect from the rest of the program; or so I am told. I typically spend about 10-15 hours on average per week reading, doing homework and meeting with my team.

Balancing family, work and school

One of my motivations to start this program was to be in a better position to support my wife LaShanda and my daughter Clara. This first year has been a great transition. I had to learn how to move from task to task with minimal transition time. This is something that I'm very much still trying to perfect. I'm very happy that the program started in the summer, with only one course. The balancing act has been quite challenging with two career-oriented parents that work full-time but our families are very supportive. I noticed during this first course that things were slipping through the cracks and making my life unnecessarily complicated; and this was only taking one class. Out of the chaos, I developed a strategy to better organize my time in an effort to remove some of the subsequent stress. The strategy that has worked for me is putting all the class periods on a calendar that I share with my wife. From that point, we communicate to make sure nothing is overlooked. That strategy has evolved to encompass task management software that syncs with our PCs and mobile devices. Now, very few items slip through the cracks. My family also makes sure that I spend the appropriate amount of time with them by being extremely vocal, especially Clara.

When I do get a break

I'm not the most exciting person so you will not find many extravagant things on my list. I do frequent my local gym, 121 Fitness; Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians games; museums; Wildwater Kingdom; several fine dining establishments and Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. Cleveland has so much to offer. If you have the time for exploration you can discover a lot, and I look forward to finding that time in the future.

Dr. Julius Korley
Part-time MBA, Class of 2015

---U.S. News & World Report 2013 rankings placed the Weatherhead part-time MBA program 30th in the country.