For MBA graduate, increased business skills and recognition worth long commute

MALVERN, Pa. — This August, Dana Lauro walked into her Strategic Management course at Penn State Great Valley. Not only was this the last class of the term, but also of her graduate degree. After three years of being a part-time student, Lauro earned her MBA.

Working at General Electric Co., Lauro would make the 80-mile roundtrip commute from Trevose to Malvern weekly. Rather than meeting twice a week, many of the MBA courses are delivered in a hybrid format — allowing Lauro some flexibility to complete her coursework online.

Lauro has worked for GE for nearly 10 years. A natural hard worker, she received a job offer before earning her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University. Her background in finance allowed her to rotate through several positions at the company — including associate accountant and commodity buyer — as she moved from Boston, to Louisville, and finally to Philadelphia.

Despite her experience in several roles, Lauro wanted to advance her career and skills in a different way.

She thought about graduate school, and enrolled in Penn State Great Valley’s MBA program in the fall of 2014. But wanting to ensure the program was a good fit — and that the 80-mile drive was worth it — Lauro started through Test the Waters. The nondegree enrollment option allows individuals to explore their interests and sample a class before receiving formal admission. After taking a course with Eric Stein, she decided to enroll.

During her time, Lauro has taken a diverse course load, with topics ranging from diversity leadership, to entrepreneurship, to management of information systems. She’s completed research, written papers, read case studies, and learned the real-world application of complex concepts — all alongside professionals of varying industries and experiences.

“The program taught me about teamwork,” Lauro said. “When it comes to group work, my classmates and I had different schedules. We utilized technology like Google Hangouts to successfully collaborate and communicate. Because of this, I can lead and work more effectively with different teams, generations and backgrounds. That’s something I can apply to GE.”

Through her diligence and newly cultivated skills, Lauro was recently promoted at GE. In her new role as the global strategic sourcing initiatives leader, she provides updates to senior leadership on how each pole uses sourcing tools to drive deflationary savings to the company. It’s a role that requires a deep understanding of the business units and collaboration with an eclectic group of individuals.

For students considering enrolling in an MBA program, Lauro encourages them to be flexible.

“Keep an open mind and adapt to things around you,” she said. “Be prepared to devote one day on the weekends to schoolwork, and make sure you have a good support system.”

Now with her MBA, Lauro feels accomplished. No matter where her career may take her, she is confident and prepared for the road ahead. Her promotion, recognition and increased business knowledge were well worth the late nights and long drives.