Learn How Interior Designer Kristin Corley Revamped Her Career With an Executive MBA.

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Kristin Corley, Auburn Executive MBA, Class of 2008. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

For working professionals wanting to boost their careers, an executive MBA allows you to learn valuable business skills without interrupting your career or personal life. Just ask Kristin Corley, a local professional who transformed her interior design career with the skills and knowledge earned through the Auburn Executive MBA program.

What is an Executive MBA?

Photo via Auburn Harbert School of Business on Facebook

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is designed to help graduates better understand the ways a business functions. An MBA is an incredibly versatile degree that gives you the knowledge and confidence to make information based, budget-related decisions regardless of job title or business model. 

But for many working professionals, an MBA—with its two-year, full-time class schedule—simply isn’t feasible. That’s where an Executive MBA shines.

Tailored to professionals with eight or more years of progressive experience, the Auburn Executive MBA program utilizes the significant knowledge and experience of students to ground business principles and theory with examples of real-world application. The program blends intensive residencies with distance courses for the best of both worlds—classroom instruction that provides interaction with faculty and peers and online learning that offers the flexibility to balance career, family and rigorous education. This delivery model binds students into a tight-knit cohort that later becomes a professional network offering benefits long after graduation. 

Kristin Corley, 2008 Auburn EMBA graduate

Kristin outside her office at BL Harbert International. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

To learn more about Auburn’s EMBA program, we spoke with alumnus Kristin Corley, Class of 2008. Prior to pursuing an EMBA, Kristin graduated from Auburn with a degree in interior design. After working several years in a local firm, Kristin realized that expanding her understanding of business strategy and finance would be helpful in her career. So she began looking for a program that could help fill that gap in her skill set.

For Kristin, the Auburn EMBA program checked all the boxes. At the time, she was balancing her work schedule and taking care of her four-year-old, so a traditional program was out of the question.

How did the Auburn EMBA fit in with your work schedule?

Kristin: “Auburn’s EMBA program is perfectly tailored for people in my situation—working professionals that don’t have the time capacity for standard classes. That flexibility allowed me to work on class projects on Saturday mornings, rather than trying to find time to be in a classroom each day. And since the program is online, it didn’t require students to be in the area. In fact, I believe only three people in my class actually lived in Alabama.”

Kristin Corley in her office at BL Harbert International. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

For Kristin, one of her most valuable takeaways was the improvement of her communication skills. The Auburn EMBA taught Kristin how to work with different groups of people and how to engage with professionals higher in the company. Now, when preparing a presentation for the COO, Kristin now knows exactly what statistics are most crucial.

What are some of your favorite aspects of your EMBA experience?

Kristin: “One of my favorite experiences in the program was the international trip. We had the opportunity to travel to Shanghai and Beijing to engage with companies in other nations and see the behind the scenes. It was fascinating to see that people in other countries, in completely different careers, experience some of the same challenges I do in my role.”

Prior to pursuing her EMBA, Kristin worked in interior design at a local firm. With new skills in her tool belt, Kristin transitioned to her current role as design manager at BL Harbert International. Her Auburn EMBA degree allowed Kristin to take a different career path than the typical holder of a degree in interior design.

How has your EMBA transformed your career?

Kristin: “Clients are consistently surprised by my background—I guess they don’t see too many people with an interior design degree AND an MBA. My EMBA degree has put me in the position to have some really challenging career opportunities. Employers and clients really value an MBA, especially one from Auburn.

For me, Auburn’s EMBA has been great value for the money. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Oh, and as always—War Eagle!”

Think Auburn EMBA might be right for you?

The Raymond J. Harbert College of Business on Auburn’s campus. Photo via Harbert College of Business on Facebook

Like Kristin, the Auburn EMBA could help transform your career. And unlike many graduate business programs that have GMAT or GRE test requirements, the Auburn EMBA program considers professional experience rather than standardized test scores when reviewing applicants. If you’d like to learn how this program can increase your business acumen and impact your career, schedule an appointment with their program admission advisor.

If you’d like to be part of the class of Fall 2021, you can apply to the Auburn Executive MBA program online.

Want to learn more about Auburn’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business? Check them out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn!

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  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.