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New challenge leads to new heights

MBA program helps Boeing manager keep her career flying high

Kathleen Garney, an Ecampus student in the MBA in Executive Leadership track

Kathleen Garney is an operations manager at Boeing, and a desire to improve her career prospects at the Fortune 500 company compelled her to pursue an MBA in Executive Leadership online and in-person with Oregon State.

By Tyler Hansen
April 5, 2016

Kathleen Garney is a manager at Boeing in Portland. It’s the second Fortune 500 company where she’s held a leadership role. Her professional track record is, in a word, impressive.

So is her ambition. That’s why she enrolled with Oregon State Ecampus and is working on an MBA in Organizational Leadership – a hybrid program with online course work and in-person classes in Portland, Oregon.

Given what she plans to accomplish down the road, Kathleen has barely scratched the surface professionally, and she saw the MBA program as the perfect means to propel herself forward.

“My career wasn’t stalled, but I wanted to turbocharge it,” she says. “… I want positions that have increasing levels of responsibility, plus increasing levels of influence. In order to distinguish myself, I thought an MBA would be another link in the chain to get me from Point A to Point B.”

And even if upward mobility at Boeing might have to officially wait until she finishes degree requirements next summer, it didn’t take Kathleen any time at all to realize that the hybrid program complements the professional world – and vice versa.

In addition to online learning – an area in which Oregon State excels nationally – the in-person classes offer regular networking opportunities that Kathleen has used to form valuable working relationships with her classmates and instructors.

“… I can rely on my counterparts in the group to support me, just like I support them when they’re out. It’s very ‘real world.’ When you work in a team, you have to be able to count on others. The support system is great.”

“There are times where I’m working or out of town, and I can rely on my counterparts in the group to support me, just like I support them when they’re out,” she says. “It’s very ‘real world.’ When you work in a team, you have to be able to count on others. The support system is great.”

One of the perks of being a working professional in the MBA track is that Kathleen has been able to apply course concepts in business and leadership directly to her day-to-day work in real time as a Boeing operations manager.

She’s currently involved in a special project with a diverse group of Boeing employees together to improve company-wide efficiency within the constructs of the current manufacturing and labor environment.

“I’m learning and developing new skills as we’re developing a culture change here. The people on the project do not share the same backgrounds or experiences. The MBA program is the same way,” Kathleen says. “People bring in different perspectives, and together we have to write a report that we all agree on. There’s a lot of overlap between the real world and the program.”

The link between work and school sets Kathleen up nicely for the future, too. By the time she exits the program, her skill set will be greatly enhanced – as will the prospect of advancing within Boeing.

Moving forward is the only option for someone with Kathleen’s ambition. Nevertheless, she’s learning how to find the right balance, too.

“The negotiations course I took last term really reminded me that sometimes I can be a little competitive,” she says. “Winning the battle may cause you to lose the war, and it can be better to strike a compromise. It was a good weekly reminder, and these experiences will serve me well in later in my career too.”