MBA ’17 grad receives degree 40 years after father, MBA '77

Posted 5.19.2017

When Amanda Artman was selecting an MBA program in 2015, she had some clear criteria in mind—she knew she wanted to stay in Cleveland, and sought a top-quality curriculum at a highly reputable institution. But as her preferences leaned toward the Weatherhead School of Management, another factor came into play—her father Les had himself earned his MBA from Weatherhead in 1977, exactly 40 years prior to Amanda’s projected graduation year.

“It was a side consideration until I made the final decision to go to Case,” Amanda recalls. “I remember walking around campus with Dad after I made the decision and thinking, this is actually really special to go where he went.” 

The decision thrilled Les, who spent most of his career in logistics and supply chain management consulting after earning his Weatherhead MBA. Now retired, Les started his career at BF Goodrich Chemical Company and moved on to several consulting firms including Cleveland Consulting Associates, Andersen Consulting, Mercer Management Consulting and Accenture.  At the end of his career, Les was a Partner in Accenture’s Supply Chain Strategy Practice. During his 25-year consulting career he served such clients as General Motors, The Scotts Company, Sherwin-Williams, Whirlpool and many others. He periodically returned to Weatherhead as a guest speaker in the Business Logistics courses taught by Ronald Ballou, now retired.  

After growing up in Shaker Heights and earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from The College of Wooster, Amanda started her career in a small Northeast Ohio executive search firm and discovered her passion for business.

“Working in a small business, I got to learn about financial strategy, marketing and business development,” she says. “You get to be part of those conversations when the company is small. I decided to go back for my MBA to lay the foundation for an education in business that I didn’t get in my undergraduate years.” 

As his daughter’s decision brought Les back to campus more often for visits, he marveled at the changes made since he left in 1977. “Walking around campus, I didn’t recognize it. I was amazed at how much progress had been made,” says Les, who has continued to faithfully donate to the Annual Fund for the last 40 years. 

But even more impressive to Les than the physical changes on campus has been the massive shift in the way Weatherhead structures its MBA curriculum. “When I went through the program, you did a lot of work on your own, with very little collaboration between classmates,” he says. “My observation of Amanda’s curriculum was that a huge portion of it was completed as part of a team. That’s reflective of how the business community has changed over the last 40 years. It’s conducted as part of a team. People collaborate. It’s essential that the MBA programs be similar.” 

Though Les has tried to interest his daughter in the field of supply chain management — “she doesn’t know that I’m still working on her,” he jokes — Amanda is following her passion into marketing and business strategy. She recently accepted a position in a leadership development program at OMNOVA Solutions, which will allow her to do eight-month rotations in a variety of strategic marketing and sales positions throughout the company. 

Now that her MBA education is complete, Amanda describes her feelings as bittersweet. “My cohort is amazing. I’ve made friends for the rest of my life,” she says. “At the same time I feel relieved and accomplished, ready to push forward with my career.”

As Les thinks about Amanda accepting her diploma, he reflects back on the path his life and career has taken. “I remember it like it was yesterday—May 21, 1977,” he muses. “It’s amazing that 40 years can go by so fast.”

That 40-year milestone is significant to Amanda as well. “You never really think about your parents being in the same life stage that you’re in, and it puts a lot into perspective,” says Amanda. “I think about how much my dad was able to achieve, and how his Weatherhead MBA helped propel him forward. Now, 40 years later, I look forward to using my Weatherhead MBA as the foundation to my own business career.” 


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