Not many people can say that they have landed their “dream job.” However, Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) graduate Jennifer Graesser ’14, ’15 is one of those fortunate individuals. Not long after graduating with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Medaille, Graesser was hired to fill the position of director of finance for WKBW-TV. In this role, she is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction to all aspects of the station’s financial initiatives, aligning them with its overall business objectives.
Here, Graesser explains her decision to advance her career through obtaining an MAOL degree, and discusses how the program taught her the applicable knowledge and skills that she now uses on a daily basis.
What led to your decision to enroll in Medaille’s MAOL program?
On the last night of my bachelor’s degree business program at Medaille, we had someone come into our class and chat with us regarding the MAOL program. I remember thinking to myself how critical that type of education would be for me at that point. At the time I was a director of accounting, but I was looking for the next move in my career. I felt the MAOL curriculum would be valuable for me, so I signed up for the program the very next day.
Describe your experience in the MAOL program. What stands out?
My experience in the MAOL program was incredible. I was immediately able to apply the lessons to my personal and professional life. The curriculum is very relevant on every level, and it worked hand-in-hand with my position as director of accounting.
What types of things did you learn about yourself and your career goals from your studies?
Throughout the program, I developed a deeper sense of maturity, respect and understanding for myself and my career. I had a better understanding of what constitutes a true leader and what sets him or her apart within organizations and in life. I grew personally and professionally to be a stronger individual and a better leader.
What is the best advice you received from an MAOL faculty member?
The best advice that I received was about the importance of clear communication. Whenever I speak to someone now, I try to remember to be clear and concise with my communication so that the message is understood. I completed the MAOL program online, and we did not have any interaction other than email or the occasional video chat. So communication was critical, just as it is in any organization today.
How do you use the knowledge and skills you learned in the MAOL program at Medaille in your current work?
I can honestly say that I use what I learned in the MAOL program every day. My approach to my team, to change, to making decisions, and even to offering my assistance and mentoring has evolved because of the MAOL program. For instance, organizational change is huge, and it can be very scary; most people do not like change and view it as a negative thing. In the MAOL program, you are given the tools to understand what organizational change is and why it occurs. You learn that it is actually very healthy for a business and its employees to go through change. The program gives you the skills to successfully lead in situations such as this. You are taught how to be an effective leader and to work with your team to achieve the desired outcome — not just for yourself but for your whole team. So that it is a win-win.
What advice would you give to current MAOL students or those trying to decide on a major?
You have a lot of years of work ahead of you, so pick a career that you enjoy. In my case, I actually built my career and then went back to school. My MAOL program complemented my employment very nicely. I use the knowledge and skills learned from this degree on a daily basis, so it was well worth the investment. Employers do not teach you how to be a leader, which means the lessons gained from the program are worth their weight in gold. Good luck!