Erin Crawford, PMBA ’17

November 2020

Erin Crawford, PMBA ’17.

Looking to show her interest in being promoted, earn the skills for upward mobility and secure the flexibility to pursue a career outside a technical field, Erin Crawford began her search for a highly ranked MBA program with an active alumni network and connections in the community.

What Crawford didn’t realize was just how well the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Professional MBA (PMBA) program would help her accomplish those goals.

Big ambition, reasonable concerns

Crawford had a big challenge ahead of her—she knew she wanted to eventually change her career field, but also to continue rising through the ranks in the meantime. She wanted an MBA program with the flexibility to achieve these goals while showing just how serious she was about this change.

“I made the choice to pursue my MBA because I wanted the flexibility to pursue a career outside my technical field,” she said. “I felt this would give me the credentials for upward mobility and make it clear that I was interested in evolving as an employee.” 

Crawford says the UB Professional MBA program was a perfect fit, for a number of reasons.

“I selected the UB PMBA because it has good rankings and a great reputation, with engaged alumni who serve as guest speakers and attend networking events.”

Of course, a big decision like graduate school is not without concerns, and Crawford, like many students before her, had a few.

“I was concerned about meeting school and work commitments while still having personal time,” she said. “I also had less exposure to some of the business subjects I’d be learning, since my undergrad was in engineering.”

Support for the challenges ahead

Crawford found support in the team with which she shared all her core classes.

“My team members were a huge support network,” she said. “We all had different strengths, weaknesses and personalities that I leveraged for help, and I made the most of it by building support systems and friendships. We frequently checked in on each other to provide encouragement and make sure we were all on track.”

Communication and presentation skills

Crawford found the PMBA program helped her develop the ability to communicate effectively with professionals from diverse disciplines, and was able to apply what she learned immediately at both school and work.

“Now I’m comfortable discussing solutions with people from all different backgrounds,” she said. “At school, it was different companies; at work, different departments.”

Additionally, the program provided her with tools and resources she still uses when presenting updates to management.

“I have a better appreciation for how to prepare updates for management,” she said.

Equipped to deal with conflict in the workplace and handle change

Just as the PMBA program boosted Crawford’s communication and presentation skills, it also exposed her to circumstances, case studies and tools which she leverages in her workplace today.

“The PMBA made me more comfortable holding people accountable when defined action items were completed late,” she said. “My team’s support was helpful when working with someone who had not delivered on their promise during the program.”

Crawford still remembers this lesson when dealing with conflict at work today.

“Those experiences taught me to keep management updated so they function as an asset to me in driving results.”

Two promotions, one career field change and 10 years of work experience

Crawford immediately saw the return on her investment in the UB PMBA program—both while she was in school and again soon after graduating.

“While in the program, I was offered a more senior position in a technical role,” she said. “After I graduated I was promoted to a commercial role, a position that would have required another 10 years of work experience otherwise.”

Crawford considers the time she spent in the UB PMBA as valuable professional experience which has brought a deeper understanding of the relationship between engineering and business.

“My MBA provided me with an edge and differentiates me from other engineering professionals,” she said. “It gave me a better understanding of how engineering projects affect the vitality of our business.”

Tips for prospective MBA’s

For professionals considering an MBA, Crawford says to go for it.

“If you are considering it – you should go for it. You will rise to the challenge when it comes to time management. Going to class feels like the start of a new day, and you will not regret the opportunity to meet and learn alongside the driven and inspirational people in the program.”

Experience it for Yourself

Attend a virtual information session or visit a class to get an inside look at the Professional MBA classroom experience.