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Jordan Benning, an Executive MBA graduate, stands next to a vehicle.

A Rising Star in Power Sports

On her first day in the Executive MBA program, Jordan Benning ’17 felt right at home. She and her classmates didn’t know it yet, but they'd soon become each other’s support systems over the next 21 months.

Benning, a 2018 recipient of the 40 Under 40 award, was initially drawn to St. Thomas for its application-based learning approach. She entered the MBA program as a rising leader within the powersports industry at Polaris.

Both St. Thomas faculty and students played a central role in Benning's leadership development. Her cohort hailed from over the Twin Cities, Duluth, Rochester and North Dakota; from small non-profits to Fortune 500 companies.

The unique cohort model emphasizes teamwork and leadership. Students complete their coursework with the same group of students, drawing upon collective experiences on leadership and management within their own organizations.

“We’d brainstorm ideas together related to professional work challenges,” said Benning. “We felt comfortable doing so because we created a safe inclusive place to share ideas."

Her cohort also had a nice balance of women – more than any other that’s ever gone through the Executive MBA.

Executive courses are taught by faculty with significant business experience. The curriculum focuses on key business fundamentals, leadership development and global business. An executive leadership component emphasizes individualized coaching and development.

Students meet 1:1 with an executive coach to review their competencies, strengths and growth opportunities. Together they develop a customized work plan exploring interpersonal relations, managerial behavior, critical thinking skills, and leadership effectiveness.

Benning met regularly with her executive coach, Mary Slack, remaining close after graduation. She even returned to St. Thomas as a guest speaker for a group of undergraduate students per her request.

Benning is grateful for these types of meaningful interactions to help enhance her leadership skills. “The Executive MBA program gave me a whole new appreciation for solving problems differently than I’ve done in the past.”