Inaugural MBA Cohort Collaborative | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Inaugural MBA Cohort Collaborative

Posted 10.31.2019

“The way to network effectively is to first get to know a person as an individual, and then build a friendship,” said Charles Fenske, EMBA ’97, one of five alumni panelists at the inaugural MBA Cohort Collaborative on October 25.

At the event, full- and part-time MBA candidates heard from alumni, who shared their tips for effective networking and how to best leverage an MBA degree to position themselves for the next progression in their career. 

Fenkse, vice president of consulting at Pease and Associates, CPAs, was one of several alumni panelists who had made major career changes after earning their degrees from the Weatherhead School of Management. Other panelists included Sarah Palagyi, MBA ‘13, president of the Weatherhead Alumni Advisory Council and senior marketing manager at the Davey Tree Expert Company; Jeff Rockwood, MBA ‘07, director of strategic initiatives at Good Place Holdings;  Joe Duffy, MBA ’14, real estate development director at Union Miles Development Corporation; and Shalini Singh, owner and founder of Exceptional India. The discussion was moderated by Roman Sheremeta, PhD, Faculty Director of the MBA Programs and Associate Professor of Economics. Sheremeta was recently recognized by Poets & Quants as a Best 40 under 40 Professor.

During the panel discussion, Palagyi said it was undeniably valuable to go through career coaching to help reevaluate and elevate her position. Beyond mentoring, Palagyi reminded the audience of the power of finding a co-worker-sponsored relationship, “Your sponsor can vouch for you and your work in your absence and in places where you are not invited.”

Singh explained how she looked for a boss and mentor, not a company, when evaluating whether to make a career shift, “It matters more who your boss is than the company you work for.” She also shared tips on finding a mentor and asking for direct feedback. Shermeta added that students and alumni should seek out Weatherhead faculty as an abundant and willing source of mentorship.

After the moderated panel discussion, MBA candidates asked thought-provoking questions and networked with alumni and students outside their cohort.  Full-time MBA candidate Katie Van Dusen said, “It was also the first formal opportunity to meet my colleagues in the other MBA cohorts, and the energy in the room with those colleagues, faculty members, and alumni gathered together was positive and inspiring. I’m looking forward to attending the event in the spring.”

Additionally, MBA-MSM Finance candidate and Cleveland Clinic Weatherhead Healthcare Scholar, Vaibhav Khurana took a moment to provide his thoughts: “Business is all about developing relationships. One of the most important skills that Weatherhead MBA program teaches is the art of forming genuine relationships. In the daily hustle of assignments and projects, it is easy to forget the invaluable resource that the school’s students and alumni present. Initiatives such as Cohort Collaborative are greatly impactful as they provide students a platform where they can connect with students from other cohorts and alumni, and learn about their experiences and journeys in life. Genuine relationships go far beyond bare networking and the Cohort Collaborative is an amazing opportunity to kick start the conversations which may lead to forming these relationships.”

The MBA Cohort Collaborative was launched to offer additional opportunities for alumni to engage students and offer substantive learning programs and networking opportunities. The next MBA Cohort Collaborative will be held in Spring 2020.

If you’re a Weatherhead alum who would like to participate in an upcoming student event or student-mentorship program, please contact Weatherhead Alumni Relations at

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