Award winners put their MBAs from Brandman to work

June 23, 2016
Megan Taylor, Kristi Vaughn and Gillian Schweigert

Megan Taylor, Kristi Vaughn and Gillian Schweigert

Megan Taylor, Gillian Schweigert and Kristi Vaughn earned their MBAs at Brandman University’s Palm Desert campus and put what they learned into action at Desert Oasis Healthcare/Family Hospice Care Center where they work.

Their efforts earned the care center the grand prize in the first Health Assessment and Research for Communities (HARC) Coachella Valley Workplace Wellness Awards. They were competing against organizations such as the Eisenhower Medical Center and the city of Palm Springs in the large organization division.

Taylor earned her MBA in May 2015 with an emphasis in human resources. She is an administrative specialist. Schweigert earned her MBA in healthcare administration in March 2016 and is the clinical nursing director. Vaughn earned her MBA in December 2015 with an emphasis in healthcare administration and is the clinical research manager. Together they answered a few questions about the wellness program they created and their Brandman experience.

How did you find out about the MBA program?

Brandman reached out to Desert Oasis Healthcare prior to their rollout of the MBA program at the Palm Desert campus. We attended a session with Brandman representatives and were convinced that this would be a beneficial program for us. We had been considering graduate school and the presentation was a catalyst to our enrollment. The location, course curriculum, understanding of adult learning and accreditation of Brandman appealed to us.

You’ve said your marketing and capstone classes as being particularly critical in helping you launch the workplace wellness program. What about those classes helped you?

The marketing course helped us to understand the importance of presenting a plan to management and how to market your idea within your environment. The capstone course laid out a step by step process and gave us an understanding of an actionable plan. Having a wise instructor who has been through this process many times was very beneficial to us and we found that person in Dr. Robert Leo.

Tell me about the wellness program and why you think it was successful, both with your fellow employees and in earning the award.

The idea of our employee wellness and engagement program, the Employee Success Program, began in our studies at Brandman. The idea grew from a marketing plan and the capstone course.

Megan Taylor and Kristi Vaughn

Megan Taylor and Kristi Vaughn with their HARC award. They earned their MBAs from Brandman University in 2015.

We identified gaps in the healthcare market related to employee engagement and retention and realized that this would have a positive impact on patient-centric care.  We realized throughout our studies that happy employees translate to excellent customer service, no matter the field you are in. Through the use of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and cost-benefit analysis, we were able to convey to senior management the benefits of this investment and the effect it would have on strategic company initiatives and vision planning.

The program seeks to create a positive work/life balance, increase employee engagement and develop programs to support all employees within our organization.

The initial research we studied allowed us to put many programs in place very quickly. In six months, we were able to establish Weight Watchers At-Work where our initial group of employees lost almost 600 pounds.  We have implemented informational lunchtime sessions on various topics including healthy cooking, resources in the community, yoga and meditation, and creating a healthy work/life balance. Five walking clubs were established throughout our various locations to encourage employees to be more active.  Increased community outreach and volunteer efforts for our employees in multiple organizations have been established. Due to initiatives such as these, the company has seen a tremendous positive effect in our annual employee survey results.

We believe that due to our all-encompassing program and concrete measurable outcomes, such as the total weight loss in the Weight Watchers initiative and the increase in employee satisfaction survey results related to employee engagement, the HARC judges understood the difference we were making for our employees.

What other aspects of the MBA program have you found particularly helpful in your careers?

Brandman helped us to understand current business practices and helped us to think innovatively. Our MBA program enabled us to understand that in order to remain relevant, you must use sustainable practices and act in a forward-thinking manner.

What advice do you have for current or prospective students in the MBA program?

You have to be committed to the program. That includes reading all of the assigned material, showing up to class, and interacting with your classmates and professors. You’re going to get as much out of it as you put in. It is a very challenging program but the outcomes that you can achieve are far more rewarding.

What else do you want people to know about your Brandman experience?

Working full time, juggling personal relationships and family, and being in the MBA program gave us a different outlook on life and a broader perspective in the workplace. It made us into more productive, educated, and effective people. It truly enriched our life on a personal and professional basis.

We are extremely grateful for the experience and we will continue to utilize the knowledge and skills learned in our MBA program at Brandman to be innovative leaders in our careers.

Related stories:

  • School services director sharpens her problem-solving skills with an MBA
  • Entrepreneurial spirit alive and well for Brandman MBAs
  • MBA program in human resources earns affordability award

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