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300 Million Reasons to Get Her EMBA

Budget director wanted knowledge and skills to become more effective (and more marketable)

Jessica Johnson
Senior Policy Advisor, Fiscal and Budget at Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2016

Jessica Johnson manages a budget of $300 million for the State of Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development. Because her background was in communications and marketing rather than accounting and finance, she wanted “to gain greater knowledge of business concepts and methodologies” — and to develop skills that might make her more marketable in the future.

So, 12 years after entering state government, Jessica returned to Vanderbilt, where she had earned her B.A. in 2002. For her, it was the logical Executive MBA choice: “great brand; small, intimate classes; well-known faculty; great alumni network; and leadership development opportunities close to home.”

She found the experience to be as she had expected: “fast-paced, extremely demanding, and ultimately fulfilling. You should expect to be all-in for two years,” she says, looking back, “but you won’t regret the investment of time, energy and resources at all.”

In particular, Jessica believes the “world-class” classes have given her an expanded perspective and a more analytical viewpoint. “My questions are better and my answers are more confident,” she says. “Working with an executive coach and on the touch points in the Leadership Development Program have been life-changing. I look at the world from a new and fresher perspective. I see problems and solutions from a better place now.

“And the awesome network, not only among my classmates but also with the professors and staff, has been instrumental. I know these relationships I will carry with me for a very long time.”

Fun Fact: Jessica is a license real estate agent.

"You should expect to be all-in for two years, but you won’t regret the investment of time, energy and resources at all.”