School: Business
Jorge Escobar profile
December 3, 2019 |

MBA Student Seizes Opportunities and Inspiration

Jorge Escobar, MBA 2020, returned to school 30 years after college graduation. Interactive classes helped catapult him to the next level in his career.

By Jenny McKeel

Jorge Escobar plays competitive tennis, reads historical novels, and hits the trails with his road bike. But his proudest accomplishment is helping his children fulfill their passions. His son is thriving in the film industry and his daughter studies fashion merchandising and design in Los Angeles. With his children’s careers taking off, Jorge decided to focus on his own unfulfilled aspiration—an MBA.  Jorge was the Associate Director of Clinical Operations for early phase drug development at Gilead Sciences, a biotech company that researches, develops, and commercializes drugs used to treat diseases. He lacked the means to pursue an MBA when he was younger with children at home.

“We have this program at Gilead in partnership with GGU that presented a good opportunity to finally get that degree. As part of the program, you have in-house professors come in every week and online work which makes it a great opportunity for working people trying to get a secondary education,” said Jorge.

MBA Cohort Program

By design, GGU’s MBA cohort programs afford students the opportunity to build friendships with classmates as they progress through their courses.

“Because students know each other, they can immediately engage and focus on coursework each semester. Long-term relationships and professional networks form that last a lifetime,” said Robert Shoffner, director of MBA programs.

Balancing School and Work

At first, Jorge struggled with fitting school demands into an already busy life. But soon he hit his stride. In the Personal Leadership course, students were tasked with creating a comprehensive 3-5 year plan for their career. Students then learned skills needed to achieve plan milestones. After that course, Jorge reached step one in his plan—a promotion to Director of Clinical Operations within the inflammation therapeutic area, a high visibility department that focuses on HIV, oncology, and liver disease.

“The skills I learned in Personal Leadership helped me get to the next level in my career,” said Jorge.

One of Jorge’s course assignments required him to create a presentation for new direct-reports. Using that presentation with his new team, he shared his life story, leadership values and goals, and explained what kind of person he is and what he expects from them. His team responded positively to the presentation and to case analysis, another tool he gained from his MBA program.

“Case analysis is a thorough review of a problem and an outline of solutions and alternate solutions. It details how to implement solutions and needed resources and timelines. My supervisor had never seen something like that and now wants other directors to apply this analysis to their challenges. It was great to have the quality of my work recognized,” said Jorge.

Leadership Training

What made the difference for Jorge was the hands-on teaching style in his classes that was interactive and fun, complemented by guest lecturers with specialized knowledge.

“Introspection was an integral part of my courses,” said Jorge. “You had to look deep inside yourself. Sometimes we don’t want to face things we don’t like about ourselves. But we have to do that in order to become better people. It’s not just about being a leader at work but being a leader at home, being a leader in your community, and being a better person. That’s why a lot of people at Gilead apply to be part of the cohorts. They see the value in terms of becoming a better employee—learning these concepts and applying that knowledge.”

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