Campus: CSU Hayward -- July 23, 2003

Grad School for Executives Also Means Scheduling Date Nights and Time With Kids

Graduate studies are easier if approached as a family project, according to participants in the Transnational Executive MBA program at California State University, Hayward.

These students have developed strategies for maintaining balance between their careers, graduate degree coursework, and family life.

“Many graduate students already have busy jobs, children at home, and spouses who have their own careers,” said Shyam Kamath, international business professor at Cal State Hayward. “Our participants tell us it works best when the whole family is involved in making the commitment work.”

Committed to ‘Date Night’

A commitment to “date night” three times per month with his wife Julie and to “family night” once per week with her and their two children is the arrangement that Martin Johnson has for his support group as he tackles his grad studies.

“You definitely have to have input from your spouse before you make the decision to go back to school,” said Johnson, who is regional vice president at USAllianz Investor Services in Oakland.

Johnson said Julie, a kindergarten teacher in the Oakland Unified School District, was supportive of his desire to work on the transnational executive MBA, known as TEMBA, and helped work out a schedule that reserved time for him to spend with her and their children, Julianna, 5, and Julius, 3.

“We decided that Monday night is family night,” said Johnson, a San Lorenzo resident. “We’ll talk, watch a movie, or read books with the kids. And I give them as much time as I can on Saturdays, too.” As a nurse and a pastor’s wife, Vickie Wilson knows what it’s like to always be “on call.”

“But my husband and I never miss dinner together,” said Wilson, who is director of the cardiac catheterization lab of San Jose Medical Center. “He protects that time for us, and whoever gets home from work first starts cooking the meal. We have dinner with each other, and I save my studies for afterward.

“Sometimes the best thing he can do to support me is just give me a neck massage.” Atul Chadha schedules time to go swimming with his 3-year-old son Ankur and spends every night with his new daughter. He and his wife also plan family time on weekends.

“I study at night after the children are asleep,” he said. “It can be pretty intense work, but I have a very supportive wife who helps make sure I have time for TEMBA and family.”

Their Own ‘Study Hall’

“My husband Leroy encouraged me to get into TEMBA and then helped turn a room into our library, computer room, and the place where I study,” said Jacque Fennoy, vice president of the Business Purchasing Service Center at Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco. “I’ve even got a big easy chair in there, so he can join me whenever he wants.”

“My two sons miss me on the weekend, when I do a lot of my studying, but they know what I am doing is important,” said Mathais Muller, who lives with his family in Santa Cruz while working on his transnational executive MBA. “But I can still work in time to help my boys become baseball stars.”

Nine months after giving birth to her son Garret and four years after completing her undergraduate studies at Cal State Hayward, Kathrina Novak was back at the university working on her transnational executive MBA while on a trip with classmates to study South American business practices in Brazil.

“We agreed to set some ground rules,” said Novak’s husband Gary. “No. 1 is that Kathrina would be home to put Garret to bed every night. No. 2 is that there is no studying until 7:30 at night.”

Kathrina says her husband serves as her editor, sounding board, cook and administrative assistant. Her mother, Marita, also helps out. Ed Huebbe said his wife June offered to take on extra duties in their Castro Valley home so he could have additional study time, which includes an occasional trip to the Cal State Hayward library on Sundays. He also makes it a priority to drive his teenage sons to ice hockey practice twice a week and to their games every Saturday.

“I take my laptop to my boys’ practices and work on assignments at the ice rink,” said Huebbe. “You sometimes have to be creative with where and when you study.”

Nighttime is the Right Time

For Benghim Teh, the time of day—or night—he studies is key to assuring that both his family and his course work are priorities.

“My studying begins at midnight,” said Teh, who is senior finance manager in the worldwide planning unit of LSI Logic in Milpitas. “I am fortunate because I do a lot of my work from a home office, so my hours are flexible. This lets me save time, especially on the weekends, to spend it with my wife and kids.”

“My husband does the laundry, the cooking and helps out in other ways,” said Angelica Huynh, who until recently was senior manufacturing process engineer at M/A-Com Tech in San Jose. “Sometimes you can get a lot of support by having a spouse who can just make sure you are left alone to study. My husband understands that when I’m studying I’m not ignoring him.”

“Being pregnant, my wife is going to have to be more of a good sport than we originally anticipated, as I go through the program,” said Scott Leone, who is surety vice president at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in Novato, Calif., and a TEMBA student. “I know I can make time for my family and work on a degree, but you can’t be sloppy with your schedule. I plan in advance the time each day I’ll do my studying.”
TEMBA involves participants in research and online projects that they can do at home, plus an international consulting project and three overseas trips. Participants also spend four consecutive days each month at a residence facility while getting focused instruction from professors in global management fields such as economic analysis, executive leadership, accounting, marketing, e-commerce and business ethics.

Media Contact: Kim Huggett, Dir. of Public Affairs (510) 885-2032


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