“Before the program I was very much a tech person; now I can see outside the IT silo and think from a corporate standpoint. Technology is critical for all companies, regardless of industry, but leveraging and controlling that technology is even more crucial.”
Steve Warker, EMTM’07
Manager, HES Systems Department
Steve Warker, EMTM’07
After getting a BA in computer science from LaSalle University, Steve accepted a systems analyst position at Sunoco. Five years later, he had progressed in his career, but knew he would need to supplement his undergraduate education to set himself apart and guarantee future ascension up the corporate ladder. "I was looking for a degree that would differentiate me in the field, while also increasing both my technical and business skills." Steve has been promoted twice since he began EMTM and he has also progressed up four rungs of his proverbial ladder.
Steve initially considered enrolling in a traditional MBA program. "At the time, it seemed everyone was getting a MBA. As valuable as I thought that was, I was more interested in finding a program that would immediately benefit my career as an IT professional. The EMTM attracted me because it was a perfect blend of technical and business courses, and the pedigree of PENN was unmatched."
Steve compared EMTM with another school's part-time tech management program but preferred EMTM's weekend format, which he believed would be a better environment for focusing on study. In 2005, he attended an on-campus session and was especially impressed when he met his guide for the day. "He was a CIO. Seeing that, I knew that the level of experience so many people brought to this program would only help me grow. And I was really thrilled with the professors, who were not only extremely knowledgeable and highly regarded, but also good at communicating that information back to the students. It was very enticing. In my opinion, the most valuable assets EMTM has are its personnel and the students it attracts — some of the smartest individuals I've met in my life. And everyone comes from a different background, which provided even more of an opportunity to learn."
As an undergraduate, Steve had some exposure to accounting and finance, but he found that EMTM’s business core was invaluable in grounding him in the fundamentals. "As a project manager, my responsibilities don't always require me to perform financial calculations, but I do analyze information to make critical decisions, so learning concepts such as Net Present Value was really helpful."
For his electives Steve focused on courses that supported his desire to manage technology and possibly manage his own company in time. "In the Technology Entrepreneurship elective, we were taught strategies for launching new ventures from Professor Cassell, who actually started a multi-million dollar energy company. You cannot get better expertise than that. We studied a wide variety of topics, including how to allocate stock and how to locate seed funding. Now I have that knowledge in my toolkit and it is something I know I will eventually leverage."
In his second-year operations elective, Steve applied his studies directly to the workplace, examining supply chain issues at Sunoco. "I talked to our CIO and he put me in contact with the right people. I conducted a study related to refinery inventories and six months later I was asked to join the team that was reshaping our supply chain. Looking back now, that EMTM project actually began the next stage of my career."
Now that his job encompasses more responsibilities, such as managing contractors and expanding his group, Steve has found the principles of organizational behavior useful. "It's been very helpful to apply the concepts learned in Organizational Behavior to the process of identifying and interviewing potential candidates."
Other especially memorable experiences include an EMTM global immersion trip to Ireland and a first-year lecture by a former chief negotiator from the Palestinian government. "This is someone who sat next to Clinton at Camp David and negotiated for lives and freedoms and here he was, teaching us his strategies. I still talk about that lecture often."
Since he completed the program, coworkers have remarked on Steve’s ability to think strategically. "For me, the biggest insight came from the business side. Before the program I was very much a tech person; now I can see outside the IT silo and think from a corporate standpoint. Technology is critical for all companies, regardless of industry, but leveraging and controlling that technology is even more crucial. Proper management can help improve cost efficiency, drive business to new areas and improve a company's competitive advantage. That mindset is what I learned at EMTM."