A Conversation with Liz Kemker MBA'22
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What made you decide to go back to school to get your MBA?
After I graduated from undergrad, I ended up in sales. I worked in medical sales for the majority of my career before coming back to school. And I had a situation in my last role where I noticed an opportunity that a competitor was providing that I thought could be pretty easily implemented within my own company. Brought it to my manager and she said, "if you can build a case for this, maybe we could do something about it." And so I kind of took on a pet project of interviewing my clients to hear their thoughts, spoke with the logistics team, spoke with our suppliers to kind of see what we could do.
My manager liked what I had brought to her enough that I was actually able to speak to the CEO of my division. And right before I left to come back to school, the prototype was released in my old territory. That entire process kind of gave me the aha moment and I decided that I could probably use a little bit more education in the business world.
What brought you to Willamette?
I was looking at a handful of different schools that had a very different setting than Indiana University (nothing against my alma mater). I knew if I came back to school, I wanted a much more intimate setting. I wanted to know my professors. I wanted to know my classmates. I wanted to not be a number.
I'm really grateful that I've done that. It's been a very engaging experience. And I would say the experiential learning is why I came back here. There's one thing to learn something in a classroom, but given that I do have a couple years of professional experience, I know that actually doing it in the real world is how you learn. And so I'm lucky enough to be one of the students in the Angel Fund program, and that has been a really rewarding experience.
How has the support of donors helped make your MBA experience possible?
Financial support was integral in making my decision to come back to school. I was lucky enough that I'll be coming out of school with no debt, and that's not something I could have done without that scholarship support.
I'm incredibly grateful that I'll be able to step out back into the workforce without that huge heavyweight looming over me. It's allowed me the opportunity to really invest in myself.
Learn More About the Difference You Made for Liz
Because of you, Willamette continues to create innovative programs that give business students the skills they need to put knowledge into action.
Today, business and management education can be found at any level, from the new undergraduate business major to the mid-career focused MBA for Professionals program. Read on to hear about how you shaped management education at Willamette.
You Sent Liz Down a New Career Path Without Missing a Beat
For Liz Kemker MBA’22, the “aha” moment to pursue her MBA at Willamette came in the form of a business opportunity.
“I worked in medical sales and I had a situation where I noticed an opportunity that I thought could be implemented within my own company,” Liz said. “My manager liked my idea enough that I was actually able to speak to the CEO of my division.”
With that experience in innovative thinking came the realization that she could take her career to the next level if only she had a bit more business training.
Liz has thrived at Atkinson Graduate School of Management, taking on leadership roles as founder and president of the Women of AGSM organization, where she organized salary negotiation workshops for MBA students.
Because of her scholarships, Liz was able to take time to enhance her skills — and her career path — without taking on student debt.
“Thank you for the opportunity to invest in myself for two years,” Liz says. “I’m incredibly grateful that I’ll be able to step back into the workforce without that heavy weight of debt looming over me.”
Next for Liz is a move to Ohio where she’ll be continuing work she began during her MBA as a Senior Manager of Strategy and Business Development at Cardinal Health.
Thank you for giving Liz this life-changing gift.
Read more stories about how Willamette's exceptional MBA students, faculty and alumni are turning knowledge into action on our news page.