Ann Marsden knows the business world—the Washington DC-based business and technology consultant has worked for Fortune 100 and 500 companies like Visa and Fannie Mae for the past 20 years.
But about five years ago, Ann came to a career-defining conclusion. She decided to become an entrepreneur, and build a business that could live and grow beyond her individual efforts.
To reach this goal, Ann began searching for an MBA program to help fill the gaps in her business knowledge. Her hunt brought her to the 16-month, World Executive MBA program at the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB).
Since graduating in 2014, Ann has launched her own business, creating affordable computer software for micro-entrepreneurs. Alongside independent consulting work, Ann’s aim is to support and encourage entrepreneurship among the older generations.
We asked Ann about her experience at GWSB, and how it has helped reshape her career.
Why did you decide to pursue an EMBA at GWSB?
I have always had a global mindset, and I wanted to be able to take my business international. The GWSB World Executive MBA program was just what I was looking for.
The program came highly recommended from others I knew who had gone through it. I attended a few of the informational events and I was hooked. GWSB is an excellent university with an international focus. To top it off, they encouraged socially responsible entrepreneurial endeavors.
How have you profited from your experience at GWSB?
After the program, I had a vision for my business - a software tool company, creating cloud-based, device-agnostic tools to assist micro and small businesses sell their goods and services more effectively and affordably, not only in real-life but online through social media. It is purposely designed to eliminate the need for a website. The tool lowers the technology hurdles and financial barriers of going into business. I hope to help encourage entrepreneurship among younger and older workers who are struggling in this economy.
How does running your own business compare to your time working in larger organizations?
Large organizations tend to lean heavily on structure, formal policy and procedures, governance, risk management and bureaucracy. Small companies and startups tend to be very anarchic, innovation and creativity focused. I believe that a successful startup needs to be a smart and thoughtful mix of the two approaches.
What advice would you give to any prospective applicants to the GWSB EMBA?
The program is not for the faint or party-hearted! It was like drinking from a fire hose. The challenge is to not just learn and absorb what’s being taught but to take that and make it your own. GWSB had excellent professors, small cohorts and classes, a family atmosphere, and people who wanted to make an impact in the world. It was glorious, and not one of us left unchanged.
If you want more than just a degree, I would highly recommend the GWSB EMBA program. Embrace every challenge, and give your all towards learning and incorporating everything they give you. It will change your life in many wonderful ways.