Earning an MBA from Harvard Business School helped Kerry Cooper, CEO of San Francisco-based Choose Energy, make a career change. Choose Energy helps businesses and consumers discover simple terms, low rates and make wise choices for natural gas, electricity and solar power.
Why did you pursue a master's degree?
"I had studied engineering in undergrad and loved the science, but while co-oping (working on and off semesters) during school, I realized that you either became a manager (which takes you away from the science) or go deeper into the science; I considered the Ph.D. path or the MBA path to be a better manager and chose the latter. I wanted to learn about the broader aspects of business: how profits & loss statements work, marketing, leadership, operations, etc."
What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master's degree?
"I think the school matters. Make sure that you're surrounding yourself with classmates who are going to push your learning, professors that you connect with and with options for graduates that are appealing. I loved my time at Harvard and would recommend it in a heartbeat. Pay attention to where the graduates are going after graduation as you're making a large investment of time and expense so you want to make sure it pays off well for you."
What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master's degree?
"I didn't sleep much. I loved the classes and spending time with my classmates and all of the activities around graduate school. There's never a shortage of events or speakers or activities, and finding the balance between those and my studies was always a challenge."
What was the biggest reward for earning the master's degree?
"Earning a master's degree let me switch careers. With an MBA, I earned credibility to have many jobs. I've run parts of finance, marketing, merchandising, operations and now a company, as CEO of Choose Energy all of which my masters education helped with and mostly gave me the confidence to take on new challenges."
Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com
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