Students teach some lessons in executive MBA program


Katie Hoffman Katie Hoffman works at Northrop Grumman Information Systems in McLean, Va., and is earning her executive MBA through the Pamplin College of Business.

“I decided to return to school when I found myself at meetings, making corporate decisions with executives from various backgrounds,” said MBA student Katie Hoffman, who worked at several government contractors before joining Northrop Grumman. 

“I wanted to understand and relate to the issues at hand, whether legal, finance, marketing, or HR, and be able to contribute to the decisions being made. In addition, I aspired to move farther up the corporate ladder and felt that executive MBA courses would give me skills and knowledge that would take 10 more years of work experience to acquire.” 

She said she picked the executive MBA program at the Pamplin College of Business for several reasons. “I wanted an interactive class setting, and that is how this program is structured.” Most classes, she said, are conducted as a forum.

“We discuss cases and issues from our assignments and in our corporate environments. The concepts, ideas, and lessons can then be applied throughout your professional career.” 

The classes and assignments, Hoffman said, give students the opportunity to benefit from each other’s knowledge to create better approaches and solutions to business cases. “Our professors encourage us to learn as much from each other as we do from them.”

Pamplin’s program, Hoffman added, focuses on international business and modern technology. In addition, the program includes “a mini study abroad, where you learn first-hand how other countries approach business and decision-making.”

Her favorite classes have been in analytics — “in any job you have to be able to analyze large sets of data and create meaningful results” — and international behaviors — “extremely helpful in providing a close look at how companies have succeeded or failed in growing internationally.”

The program equips all students with iPads, iPods, and laptops to allow them to use the latest technologies in or out of the classroom. The fact that the courses are offered every other Friday afternoon and Saturday makes work/school balance feasible — another definite plus, she said.

Pamplin’s executive MBA will expand her overall business knowledge, Hoffman said. “Many executives and decision-makers get to their position by being very good or great at something. The problem is, when you get each great person in a room with other great people in their specific area of interest, they don't always speak the same language.”

The executive MBA, she said, equips senior managers with the appropriate amount of general business knowledge so that they can relate, communicate, and make decisions with other corporate leaders. “You don't have to be the lawyer or the CPA, but you do want to understand how they reach conclusions in the boardroom.”

Pamplin’s executive MBA program, she said, will allow her to contribute more fully to the decisions being made at the firm and position her well to move up the career path at Northrop Grumman.

Learn more about the executive MBA program at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center, National Capital Region.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Sookhan Ho at (540) 231-5071.

About the executive MBA program

This program is designed for executives, senior-level managers, or individual contributors who are considered "high potential" in their organizations, with at least eight years of professional experience preferred.

  • Location: Falls Church, Va.
  • Program starts: September and February
  • Classes meet: Every other Friday and Saturday
  • Time to complete: 18 months
  • Students' background: Mid- to senior-level managers or entrepreneurs with previous four-year degree in any field, at least a working knowledge of computer applications and quantitative analysis, and a depth of knowledge in their specialty areas

Podcast: A Day in the Life

Listen as Charles Jacobina, executive director of Pamplin’s executive MBA program, and faculty members talk about how they “bring the real world” into the classroom.

Part-time MBA program provides timely curriculum

    Justin Knight

Justin Knight chose the part-time program to be able to juggle his work, school, and family.

Professional program draws students of varied expertise

    Devin Wallace

For Delvin Wallace, classmates complete the package of the professional MBA.

Small classes, big reach come with full-time MBA program

    Sonya Milstead

Sonya Milstead chose Pamplin's full-time program for its networking resources.