“I have been recently having conversations about leading bigger teams, so this MBA is very helpful. The future is wide open, and I have a ton of room to grow.”
Executive MBA Online, Class of 2019
Senior Manager, Retail Pharmacy Innovation & Engineering, CVS Health
Leadership has been part of Grace Rowan’s professional plan since she was in her teens.
She’s put that plan into action through a tireless work ethic and a passion for helping others improve their health. A Doctor of Pharmacy by trade, she’s added a second credential to her resume: Executive MBA.
Rowan already had an impressive amount of management experience when she enrolled at Washington State University. What she was looking for, however, was the academic training to better position her for career advancement while fulfilling an item on her personal bucket list.
“I wanted to round out my skills and knowledge and pair a formal education with the business skills I was gaining at corporate,” she explained.
She was always intrigued by the business side of retail pharmacy, but as she moved up from pharmacist to pharmacy manager to field leader—which involved a great deal of travel—she simply didn’t have the time to pursue a business degree.
Things changed after she received a promotion to corporate pharmacy advisor in 2017 and began working at the CVS Health headquarters in Rhode Island. Her new role enabled her to gain closer insights into the numbers, processes, and initiatives behind the business.
Her schedule also became more predictable, making it the perfect opportunity to invest in an education that would enable her to positively impact both her team and the larger organization.
“I really felt that this was the time. I was going to find the balance to not only get this degree for myself but actually make it meaningful for our enterprise,” she explained.
“WSU was ranked far higher than most other online programs, and the value of the program felt even higher when comparing the cost and length between the executive MBA programs.”
She was also sold on the fact that she would be collaborating with established leaders from all over the world who represented a variety of industries.
“It appealed to me that the Executive MBA had colleagues with depth and breadth to their work experience, similar to me.”
Connecting with High-Caliber Leadership
During Rowan’s time in the program, WSU delivered on its promise of exposing her to a more diverse professional network and helping her cultivate connections with others in the business world.
“I met a lot of people who were either senior leaders in their companies or were progressing toward becoming leaders,” she said. “They had a lot to share, and diverse perspectives that I appreciated hearing.”
She was especially impressed by the level of engagement and support she received from her online cohort all the way from enrollment through graduation.
“With our group projects, especially the capstone, I felt like I could really count on my teammates,” she said. “Everyone was very accountable by nature. I think that’s a trait of people who have been in highly accountable work for a while.”
Success Without Limits
Rowan said she’s loved applying her MBA education to the fast-paced world of health care and process innovation and is challenging herself to become even more knowledgeable each day.
“I’ve noticed huge synergies between work and my classes. That’s been a really big help.”
“Some things at work are going a lot easier for me because I’ve taken a certain class,” she continued. “For example, conducting certain data analyses and creating business cases are much easier and faster for me now.”
Soon after Rowan enrolled with WSU, she received yet another promotion from advisor to senior manager of pharmacy innovation.
In just a year after her graduation in May 2019, Rowan’s team doubled, and she led them in growing their high-profile portfolio from $20 million to more than $300 million.
She was also selected for one of CVS’s 18-month high-potential leadership development programs, which she’s scheduled to complete in 2021. In June 2020, Rowan received a CVS Health Breakthrough Award in June 2020 for her leadership.
Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, she’s actively seeking more responsibility within her organization as she works toward her next goal of becoming a director.
“I think the sky’s the limit for me,” she said. “Everyone in my organization knows that I’ve pursued this degree and that I have a lot of career ambitions to make a larger impact on our enterprise.”
Rowan is confident that for prospective MBA students researching the benefits of a Washington State education, the choice is obvious.
“When you’re thinking about what’s important to you—if it is flexibility, it’s going to be an online program.”
“Then you consider which one is ranked over another and what’s going to get you what you want, along with the price versus how long it’s going to take to finish,” she continued. “With that ROI package, I don’t think there’s a program that beats WSU.”