As an investment analyst at the J. Paul Getty Trust, a not-for-profit dedicated to the presentation, conservation, and interpretation of the world’s artistic legacy, Michael de Vera, WG’20, wanted an MBA to help transition into senior leadership.
However, the cost of an MBA program was a big concern.
“I worried about the cost-benefit tradeoff and the loans I needed to finance the program, so I spoke with other Wharton EMBA students and alumni about these concerns. They all shared great advice about why they found the program worthwhile. I also talked it over with my wife and colleagues at work. My CIO asked me if I would regret not going to Wharton 10 to 15 years from now. The answer to that question was simple: Yes. So, I decided I would make it work,” he said.
Michael came to Wharton to differentiate himself. He explained, “There were closer executive MBA options, but I wanted to come to Wharton because of its academic rigor, reputation as a quant and finance school, and network. I knew this program would prepare me for my long-term goal of managing an investment portfolio across diverse areas and my short-term goal of improving my management and leadership skills.”
As for the commute to Wharton’s campus in San Francisco, he noted that the one-hour flight from Los Angeles is worth it to broaden his network and skillset. “I focus on investments in real estate and natural resources, and the diversity of this program lets me tap into a network of people who work in all kinds of areas, including technology. Being in this environment is appealing because the investment universe spans a broad range of industries, and I want to better understand investment opportunities in emerging high-growth areas.”
Now that he is a first-year student, the program is already adding value for Michael:
“I come from a finance and quant background and Wharton is helping me think outside of that framework. While it has a great reputation as a finance school, it’s also very strong in other areas like management, operations, and strategy. In my management course, I’ve learned how to think about investments from more than a finance perspective. When I talk to investment managers, I dive into more non-finance topics now. I want to know how they specifically attract, structure, and motivate their teams and how they strategically position businesses and assets because those affect financial performance. As a result of my classes, I am thinking differently about how businesses are run.”
“I’ve definitely taken advantage of developing a more diverse network. Everyone brings a special expertise, and I’m fortunate to be in a setting where everyone is willing to share their experiences and knowledge. For example, I was recently looking at an investment in the energy sector, and I talked to a classmate who works in that space to pick her brain over lunch. It helped me understand what to focus on next.”
“I’m enjoying meeting people from other Wharton EMBA classes as well as alumni. I was really impressed with the Wharton real estate network in LA!”
“I consider myself an introvert and have a quieter style of leadership. This program is pushing me outside of my comfort zone, and I have become more vocal about things that I am passionate about both professionally and socially. I came here to be challenged and grow, and I can already see that happening.”
As for the financial investment, Michael says that it is worth it. “I’m definitely a lot less concerned about that now because of the people I’ve met and the content I’ve already learned. It’s really difficult to put a price on this experience.”
— Meghan Laska
Posted: February 5, 2019