I cannot begin to count the number of time people, from close friends to new acquaintances, have asked me this question. When I went back to school for my MBA, with a decade of work experience behind me, I was often asked this question, and found no issue in quickly responding. I often explained that as I moved into leadership, I often wondered if what I was doing in my own role corresponded with what ‘I should be doing.’ I was hoping that getting an advanced degree, specifically the MBA, would help me in clarifying what best practices were and how I could be most effective. Well, as it turns out, I am still looking at the same underlying issues, but now my focus is turned outward. How can I assist others in being more effective? The experience of working toward my doctorate as a member of a professional and experienced cohort has been such a great growth experience for me. Even if I never told anyone that I had the degree, or even used it professionally, it would still be worth its weight in gold. The connections that I have made during the program have been really wonderful- personally and professionally. So, after three years in the program I now know how to answer the question—the answer to the question is that it is not about what I am going to do with the degree, it is about what I have gotten out of my participation in the DM program. It provided me with valuable learning opportunities and relationships that I would not otherwise have. I always say that life is an evolution, and this experience has added to my evolution.
Joann Farrell Quinn is Owner of JFQ Consulting and Adjunct Professor at the University of South Florida Polytechnic. Her research examines how emotional and social competencies, positive relationship and role/identity construction impacts individual performance in organizations. Joann is a doctoral candidate in the PhD in Management: Designing Sustainable Systems program at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.