Executive MBA Graduate Profile: Sheilla Lienerth, Case Western | TopMBA.com

Executive MBA Graduate Profile: Sheilla Lienerth, Case Western

By Karen Turtle

Updated May 23, 2017 Updated May 23, 2017

“Thought leadership in the space of emotional intelligence,” a, “stellar,” group of professors and, “school reputation,” were three of the main determinants that convinced Sheilla Lienerth, director of customer engagement at Bridgestone Credit Division, to enroll in an executive MBA program at Case Western Research University’s Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sometimes, careers veer professionals away from their first passion, and in Lienerth's case that passion had been in psychology and sociology, the diligent study of which had helped her earn her first degree. Choosing Weatherhead’s EMBA, which places a strong emphasis on developing emotional intelligence in leaders and boasts strength in this area of research, was perhaps one means of marrying an old love to the benefit of an already successful 18-year career in communications and finance.    

In 2015, upon graduating with her executive MBA, Lienerth, wife and mother of three, left her old role as a director of analytics capabilities behind, to put people back at the center of her mission. In the below, Lienerth explains how her learning experience at Case Western transformed and revitalized her views of executive management.   

Sheilla Lienerth
The EMBA’s invigorating teaching methods and personalized approach

"I was not prepared for the way the EMBA would change my outlook on work, culture and environment. I had the most invigorating experience," says Lienerth of her time at Case Western.

The Weatherhead School of Management emphasizes that its programs are not a 'one-size- fit-all' offering. Participants on the course are assigned an executive coach from the outset and building self-awareness forms a central part of the business school's teaching methodology. Weatherhead recently placed among the top 50 EMBA programs in North America, according to the QS Global EMBA Rankings 2017.

Lienerth describes the course as invigorating, mainly due to the level of challenge elicited by its tasks and projects. Students work in close collaboration alongside professors to perform case analyses, and to take part in simulations and experiential exercises. "The ability to have debates on a case study where you can challenge someone's point of view without having to worry about company politics was refreshing, energizing and engaging," says an enthused Lienerth.

Students of the EMBA program at Weatherhead School of Management also self-select their own learning teams, and these are partnerships that are kept throughout the duration of the course. "My group became a family to me," says Lienerth, adding that, "these are forever friendships...my family will be leaving to go on vacation with a classmate and her family in just a few weeks."

Weatherhead School of Management reframes thought

"I no longer wanted to just survive the status quo work environment. I wanted to work in an environment that valued diversity, the implementation of change, thought leadership and creativity," says Lienerth.

Before the program, the executive MBA alumna had been intent on being a 'tactical queen’, methodical in her approach to juggling everything that comes with an executive career, along with the needs of three young children. "I knew how to get things done, but because I placed value on checking the box, I didn't always strategize on the best solution."

Enlightened by the books she read during her EMBA, and by the insights she drew from her discussions with professors and peers, Lienerth says that, by the end of her time at Case Western, she understood that creative thought was central to the success of any good business. Scheduling time for brainstorming, and the chance to step back to readdress perspective, became part of Lienerth's mantra.

"My EMBA experience taught me that I had the license to do that and the value that comes from that – this freedom – is life changing." Epiphany aside, Lienerth explains that she was also able to close important gaps in her existing business knowledge.

"I was proud of the fact that I had learned the financials so deeply that I could, for example, complete a valuation of my company on my own." She adds that, there were certain sacrifices; no TV for 21 months, and little sleep. "Nevertheless," she beams, "those almost two years at Weatherhead School of Management were worth it all...and every cent too."

This article was originally published in May 2017 .

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Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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