Lifelong learning: From the C-suite to college

By: Stacy Rose

Sweeney Rose has been feeling a little neglected lately. AdamsGabbert’s Chief Happiness Officer thinks I’m far too busy and have been skimping on the ear rubs and belly scratches.Sweeney Rose, Chief Happiness Officer

She’s not wrong. In addition to my role as Chief Operating Officer of AdamsGabbert (AG), I recently took on a new role as a student at Rockhurst University’s Executive MBA program.

You might be wondering why in the world I’d go back to school when I’m already working in the C-suite of a business experiencing exponential growth. My “why” for returning to campus boils down to three things: improving AG, gaining confidence as a leader, and my firm belief in lifelong learning.

Improving the company

After a varied career that included everything from stay-at-home mom to teaching to owning a business, I joined the AG team as office manager, gradually working my way up to the first COO of AG.

Despite the immense satisfaction of helping to grow the business to a $17 million company with more than 200 employees, I reached a point where I felt like I had used up all of my tricks and needed to refill my bag. To continue contributing to our growth at a high level, I needed more information, more education, more relevant knowledge.

Lifelong learning: COO Stacy Rose heads back to schoolWith the wholehearted support of AG’s CEO and owner Denise Kruse, I chose an EMBA program that focused on hands-on, practical learning I can apply to the business. For example, in my strategic marketing class, I created a strategic plan to build out an exciting new area of our business. Today, we’re implementing some of those tactics—and one of my fellow students wants her company to be our first client. Almost halfway through the program, I’m already bringing profitable ideas back to the office.

Gaining confidence

The Rockhurst EMBA program requires a lot of introspection. We’ve already taken six different personality and leadership assessments during my program, sometimes with surprising results. Although I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert, I consistently test as an introvert. Learning more about myself, my leadership style and how I handle stress and conflict has helped me determine what changes to make to be a more effective, confident leader.

I tend to be a pretty succinct, to-the-point type of person in my communications, but I’m learning to communicate in more thoughtful and creative ways as I make my way through my courses. That translates into more confidence when presenting to clients and when speaking with co-workers and employees. I’ve also gained great friends in the other executives in my cohort, along with genuine interest and support from my professors. These relationships have been essential to gaining self-assurance and exuding confidence to others.

Lifelong learning

As a former educator, I place great value on lifelong learning. Although it’s not uncommon for executives to reach their positions without earning an MBA – fewer than 40% of Fortune 500 CEOs have an MBA – just because you’ve reached a certain age or position doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow and learn.

Diversifying my circle of influence has expanded my point of view. Whether you head back to school or simply learn something new on your own, your company is better when its leaders are continual learners and are able to find ways to directly apply that knowledge to the business.

Don’t be intimidated

I’d be lying if I said walking back on campus after 30ish years away wasn’t intimidating. College has changed a lot since I was an undergrad, but I’m so glad I didn’t let fear stop me from taking that step. The EMBA workload on top of my role at COO is arduous, but with creative time management, supportive colleagues and family members – and, of course, a loving dog – I’m making it work. Knowing that the lessons I learn at Rockhurst can only help our awesome company, associates and clients makes it all worthwhile.

Stacy Rose serves as AdamsGabbert’s COO and partner, where she is a driving force in AG’s explosive growth. Founded in 1999 and based in Overland Park, Kan., AG focuses on staffing servicesadvisory services and technology services—all designed to make business better for their clients. Share your thoughts on LinkedInFacebookTwitter or Instagram!

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