For Mary Arfeli, a typical class weekend is a balance between attending class and developing relationships with her classmates. Classes for Georgia Tech Scheller’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program are held on select Friday evenings and Saturdays for 17 months. Though class may start at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Arfeli’s preparation for the class weekend begins earlier during the week.
“I schedule an intentional meeting with someone every week so that way by the end of the program, I can say I’ve met with most people in the program,” said Arfeli. “I enjoy eating a meal with someone and asking them about their career, their goals, and the company they work for.”
Arfeli, who is originally from Colombia, is in the Global Business cohort. She chose the Global Business specialization because she has worked in international business her entire career and wanted to acquire additional tools and frameworks. Her startup is even related to international business. She and her business partner have created a platform where children can learn different subjects, such as coding, science, or piano, in a foreign language from a teacher who is a native speaker of that language. In essence, reaching two goals at once.
Arfeli began her EMBA program experience in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic in August 2020. For Arfeli, the choice to embark on her EMBA journey during the pandemic was a difficult one, but it also presented a way to look at the value of the program differently.
“I looked at my decision to join the EMBA program from the perspective of, ‘Who are the people that are going to say yes to this program?’ The people that are going to sign up for this challenge mid-pandemic are people who are similar to me. They like to take on challenges. They like to take risks. They are willing to work in an adverse type of environment. For me, joining the program and knowing these people were courageous, that made me sign up. If they can do it, I can do it, and we can all do it together,” said Arfeli.
Camaraderie is something that is important to Arfeli. She has found deep connections with other women in her cohort.