An executive who works closely with transformation for her company, Jennifer Twombly has her own transformational experience in UW-Green Bay’s Impact MBA program
Twombly joins her peers as the first cohort of graduates celebrating their Impact MBA Degrees at 2022 Spring/Summer Commencement
Jennifer Twombly felt that getting an MBA would help her transform employees’ work lives, but she didn’t expect it to transform her own.
A 14-year employee of Menasha Corporation in Neenah, Wisconsin, Twombly wanted to take her existing skill sets and experiences and expand on them in order to lead her company on a journey of change and ongoing improvement. Currently the vice president of Human Resource Transformation, Twombly wanted to expand her strategic leadership capability, learn how to leverage technology, and gain exposure to new and different skills to better enable the organization to improve its employees’ work experiences.
But as a busy career mom, finding the time to fit graduate-level college classes into her schedule earlier in her career was difficult.
“What I couldn’t do is pursue the graduate education I wanted back then,” Twombly said. “It was really just not having the capacity and bandwidth. In the back of my mind, I felt I’d gained a lot of really strong business experiences, and my financial and business acumen (had) developed as a result of my work experience. But I still had this nagging feeling of really having unfinished business and wanting to pursue my MBA. What I struggled with was finding the program that would best fit me as a leader.”
Enter the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Impact MBA. Unlike traditional MBA programs, the Impact MBA focuses on new ideas and new technologies like interactive Artificial Intelligence (AI), marketing personalization; supply chain sustainability; and social responsibility -in an online and in-person hybrid model.
Twombly said the program was the right fit, not only for her busy life, but for her company’s people-driven work culture.
“What set apart the UWGB Impact Executive program was the fact that I felt it really centered on developing strategic leadership skill sets to be able to lead in a purpose-driven manner in a digitally-enabled global society and business community,” she said. “That to me was the distinction. It aligned not only with who I am and my purpose in life, but also, I think, in being forward-looking and developing the progressive leadership skill set to be successful, not just today, but in leading the next generation workforce into the future.”
When the pandemic grounded Twombly at home in 2020, the timing seemed right to go for it, she said. Now, two years later, Twombly will be one of the first graduates of the Impact Executive MBA program.
But she hasn’t had to wait until graduation to apply what she’s learned in the classroom, she said.
“At Menasha, we are going through significant growth and transformation. We’re investing in new technology both from an AI and enterprise resource planning platform standpoint, as well as in the people function that I’m responsible for, where we’re really looking to grow through data and analytics,” she said. “Every course (of the Impact MBA) has been very valuable in terms of takeaways that I could apply in my work and help Menasha achieve our strategic initiatives or better support our team development and team growth. To me that’s what’s just been so powerful and profound. It’s unlocked a lot of insights that could be applied immediately.”
Those lessons, she said, are ones she’ll be able to apply to all aspects of her life, like her volunteer efforts in her community, as well as to her work life.
For instance, currently, getting and retaining employees is a struggle for all employers. Using lessons learned in classes and from the other members of her cohort, Twombly said she was able to implement strategies that helped the company develop a work culture where employees feel like they belong and are part of a work family that cares about them, leading to higher engagement and retention.
The Impact MBA is a program she said she will recommend to others.
“I was impressed with the quality of the curriculum, the faculty, staff, guest lecturers, and especially the diverse cohort structure,” she said. “There is a reason that the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is one of the fastest growing higher education institutions in the state of Wisconsin, while many other institutions are seeing declining enrollments. The partnerships that UWGB has built, through organizations like the Green Bay Packers, TitleTown Tech and Microsoft, for example, provide students opportunities to interact with world-class leaders and businesses that rival—and even exceed—larger academic institutions’ offerings.”
For the VP of Human Resource Transformation, the Impact MBA has been transformational on its own.
“This experience has not only opened my eyes to the possibilities that technology and innovation could bring to work leading transformation at Menasha Corporation, but has truly better equipped me to lead strategically and connect more deeply with people in a socially-responsible, digitally-enabled global economy,” she said.
Story by freelance writer Liz Carey
Photo: Kayde Kempen, Menasha Corporation