Coca-Cola Employees Recognize Benefits of Emmanuel Education
April 29, 2008
One of the qualities students in Emmanuel's Graduate & Professional Programs often rave about is the dynamic, cohort-based approach. Being able to traverse the rigors of the part-time accelerated format with the support of fellow classmates proves a valuable motivational tool for the working professionals seeking advancement.
For some students, like Carrie Burke, Janet Duncan-Rumsey and Nancy Penney, that sense of comfort has been ever-present, as the three share a common bond beyond their educational pursuits which allows them to continue their learning mutually outside the College's classroom walls.
As employees of Coca-Cola Enterprises, the three women's support of each other's academic quests is a constant fixture throughout their workdays - providing that extra level of encouragement which continues to invigorate all three as they continue upon their journeys of professional growth. While each has previously traveled a distinct educational path, they have united as Emmanuel Graduate & Professional Programs' students with the goal of furthering their education and adding value to their stock as Coca-Cola employees.
Working for the world's largest soft drink bottler for the past 18 years, Burke, much like Duncan-Rumsey and Penney, was encouraged to pursue an advanced degree through the company's tuition reimbursement program, as well as through a company initiative that has placed more emphasis on employees' skills rather than tenure. A recently promoted on premise sales manager in the Coca-Cola Braintree offices, Burke earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Emmanuel a few years back and decided to return to pursue a Master of Science in Management degree.
"I always wanted to go back for my master's degree and I liked the idea of heading back to Emmanuel," she said. "I liked the program and enjoyed the professionalism of the students and teaching staff. It was because of my experience as an undergraduate student that I decided to further my education with the school."
Working in the same branch as Burke, Duncan-Rumsey had been looking for an accelerated program around the same time and was quickly intrigued by the benefits of an Emmanuel education. Initially intimidated by the thought of returning to school after a nearly 20 year hiatus, she was comforted knowing she was enrolling in a program geared toward adult learners, and appreciated the convenience of the program's satellite locations, particularly the site in Quincy.
"I liked the idea of having multiple locations so that you could look at the other sites and figure out how classes could fit into your schedule," she said. "And to be able to go to class right down the street in Quincy is amazing."
An employee relations manager, Duncan-Rumsey's entire professional career has been in the human relations field. As time has progressed, she says she has realized how important a graduate degree is to growth in the workforce.
"I want to continue to be seen as someone who is promote-able, to continue to develop and be viewed as a strategic leader," she said. "And to be able to do that, I need to have that degree."
A fellow employee relations manager at Coca-Cola's Needham-based office, Penney shared similar feelings with Duncan-Rumsey regarding the human resources field and originally began looking specifically at Emmanuel's program due to its Master of Science in Human Resource Management degree, which she noticed was a rare concentration among colleges in the area. Just two years after completing her undergraduate work as an adult learner, Penney has especially enjoyed the flexibility of the program, which has allowed her greater freedom in navigating the degree requirements compared to her undergraduate path.
"The process to apply to the part-time degree program, the easy commute, the accelerated format and everything all the way through has been great," she said. "You work hard for the seven weeks of each course, but you are also able to take what you learn from each class and bring it back and apply it the next day at work. I have enjoyed the entire experience so far and I am looking forward to the rest of my time at Emmanuel."
Penney, Duncan-Rumsey and Burke are not the only Coca-Cola employees who have turned to Emmanuel as a catalyst for career advancement. Wendi Lee, an account executive at the company's Providence office, recently completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is set to graduate in May. A self-proclaimed "road warrior," as her position involves traveling 75 percent of the time, Lee was thankful for the ease in which the College allowed her to combine her hopes for a degree with a hectic work schedule.
Recommended to her by a co-worker, another Emmanuel alum, Lee says she too has enjoyed the camaraderie of the cohort along with the personal insight brought to class by the professors, which she feels kept each course particularly engaging. For colleagues in similar situations she once found herself, Lee says she would "absolutely suggest" looking into Emmanuel's academic offerings.
"For me, I knew I wouldn't get much further in my company without having a degree," she said. "And there are a lot of other people at Coca-Cola who may not have that degree or may not even know how to go about pursuing it either. I expect it will help me advance within the company and it has already given me confidence to take that next step."
Penney and Burke have already found their co-workers asking about the program, with a number of Penney's supervisors and managers intrigued by the College's graduate and undergraduate degrees and state-of-the-art certificate programs. Burke has spoken fondly of the program for years, especially with the people she has worked alongside for quite some time.
"A lot of times for the people who work here, it's the only work experience we've ever known," she said. "I have been at Coca-Cola for 18 years and had I not decided to come to Emmanuel, I don't believe I would have had the same opportunities to expand my career. I tell my co-workers that getting their degree can only help, and Emmanuel is the place to go."
"As a human resources person, I preach to people that they have to take responsibility for their own careers, and for me not to do the same in my own life does not help convey that sentiment as effectively," she said. "Now, I feel like I am investing in myself and my future, not just getting a degree."