What made you decide to enroll in the program?
I started my career long ago as a CPA, though I became more interested in being an entrepreneur. Before Case Western I’d been involved in startup entities, and I still am—that really hasn’t changed. But at the time I applied I was between opportunities. At that time I knew I wanted to teach—which I did end up doing at Kent State, as an adjunct for three years—and the only way I was going to be an adjunct was to have a master’s degree. Secondarily, the reason I wanted to do the program was to fill in some knowledge gaps I might have. And Case’s reputation in the leadership area was attractive.
How did you feel about being the first person to receive the EMBA Leadership Award?
It’s an entire class of leaders in that program. It was really an honor. It’s just full of really impressive people, so if you’re going to give an award in a group like that, you could probably pick just about anybody. I was on the older side of my classmates, and I wasn’t attending the program connected as part of a job or sponsored by a company. So I think maybe I could be a little more freewheeling, expressing myself, ideas and opinions, and I didn’t worry about getting my feelings hurt. I guess you could say I just tried to improve the quality of the class, and at the time I didn’t have a company affiliation, so there’s a freedom in that.
Is it true that the class that conceived of the award—the year before yours—modeled it based on the leadership qualities of a friend of yours?
Yes. Amy [Richardson] and her class  organized the whole thing, because they thought there should be a leadership award for the class, and they were inspired by their classmate Wayne. He went to Case Western the year before I did. By coincidence, Wayne and I had been friends for a long time. We went to the same church, and he and his wife were friends of ours. He always impressed me as a humble, down-to-earth kind of guy—well, except on the basketball court. Just a real servant leader type of person. That’s how I would characterize him, and how I think his class would. Servant leadership is the model that we held in highest regard.
What about the program was particularly meaningful to you?
The EMBA is all about trying to help and improve your classmates. Everyone works to improve one another. I think the collaboration part is what is most memorable to me—the personal experience working together as a small group. One of the strengths the program is known for is its focus on emotional intelligence. And being a CPA originally by training, that and the focus on leadership were especially valuable to me, and lasting.
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