Sue Sheurerman, KSM ’09
Portfolio Management Director
Vice President–Financial Advisor
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
"I was promoted to run Marketing and Strategic Planning at HFC, and then to Chief Operating Officer two years later. I attribute much of my rapid advancement to my Kellogg experience."
As a young executive at Household Finance Corporation (HFC), I had already enjoyed quite a bit of success. In seven years, I rose from Branch Manager Trainee to District Sales Manager to Assistant to the Regional Vice President, becoming the first-ever female executive at the corporate office at age 32.
My managers told me I showed real promise. However, my ability to truly think strategically and globally – and my professional advancement – was limited by my age and experience. So to kick-start those two skill sets, I applied for the Kellogg Executive MBA program.
I started at Kellogg in 1988, and it didn’t take long for the program to start paying off in my career advancement. The flexible format allowed me to continue working full time. It was grueling, but so worth it. I look back and feel like I not only learned the coursework but also learned what I was capable of achieving in a day – and it turned out to be much more than I thought.
To capitalize on the skills I was learning, HFC moved me into a special projects role, first developing ways to utilize the branch channel to originate conforming mortgages, and then to re-engineer the branch offices themselves. At the time, these types of projects were unheard of at the company – and here I was, running them while getting my MBA at Kellogg. The skills I was learning on the weekend were directly relevant to what I was doing during the week.
I remember one course in particular, Channel Management, that paid off right away. HFC had started incorporating different distribution channels – credit card, banking, branches, etc. – but there was no history on how to do this successfully. I was able to apply my classroom learning and lead many of these initiatives effectively.
As I learned how to maximize different distribution channels and completed my Kellogg MBA, I was promoted to run Marketing and Strategic Planning at HFC, and then to Chief Operating Officer two years later. I attribute much of my rapid advancement to my Kellogg experience.
At Kellogg, I gained a greater understanding of the various functional areas in most organizations. This gave me the ability to know what strategic questions to ask my direct reports who ran our functional areas. The focus on teamwork helped me learn about different industries, management issues, and business challenges that I never would have experienced otherwise. I also gained the confidence to try new things – to embrace risk. Trying new things is risky, but being risk averse does not grow great businesses. Accepting risk creates a larger opportunity to succeed.
In addition to coursework, I also learned a lot from the people in my class, and continued to consult with them long after we got our degrees. For example, during a difficult time politically at HFC, I was able to reach out to my former MBA classmates, and get a more balanced view of the situation without involving people at the office.
When I left HFC to start my own company, I also discovered that having the Kellogg brand on your resume opens doors that might otherwise be shut. Leveraging my knowledge and resume, particularly the Kellogg Degree, I raised more than $100 million in capital, founded a financial services business with a great team, selling it shortly thereafter.
After a few years of “retirement,” I transitioned to my current profession as wealth manager. Even today, my Kellogg experience comes into play, making me more thoughtful, broadening my curiosity, thinking bigger and more globally, exploring new and interesting things in both my professional and personal life. This has made me a better, more engaged wealth manager for my clients.
I didn’t fully understand the value of the program until later. The Kellogg MBA is a really great investment – an appreciating asset with a very high ROI. You graduate from the program and your worth in the corporate community goes up immediately – and it continues to go up year after year as your knowledge compounds and your network grows.
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