Alumni Q&A: A little serendipity and a Brandman MBA put Kelly Huffman to work
Kelly Huffman serendipitously fell into the health care industry through an opportune internship in the public relations and marketing department at Molina Healthcare. Shortly after, she landed a full-time job at Molina working for the company in various capacities from public relations to director of regulatory initiatives. Huffman kept climbing the ladder at Molina and was charged with launching a new department and building a team which focused on process improvement with the goal of improving customer experience for patients and providers.
Realizing she wanted to further her career through the pursuit of a master’s degree, she turned to her HR department at Molina for educational resources. Through Molina’s partnership with Brandman, Huffman received a partial scholarship and found an MBA program that suited her needs of conveniently located on-ground classes at the former Culver City campus. She earned a Master of Business Administration in 2016.
After 10 years at Molina, Huffman was ready for a new challenge. She worked with Brandman Career Services to polish up her resume and tapped into her network of friends, classmates and faculty. It was through a friend’s referral that she found Freed Associates, a small health care consulting firm that was big on work-life balance. She began working with the Freed Associates as a health care consultant in May 2017.
How did going back to school help you/your career?
I was looking for a new opportunity after being with Molina for 10 years. I knew getting a postgraduate degree would give me an advantage and was the key to moving forward in my career. The MBA program gave me perspective and confidence to push me outside of my comfort zone.
I am a huge believer in Brandman. I see a real value in the education received at Brandman. You get so much out of the program by getting to work with faculty members who are actually working in their fields.
Who inspired you while attending Brandman?
Almost all of my professors and my classmates were an inspiration for me. I learned a lot from classmates. It was inspiring to be around so many intelligent people who brought their experiences and challenges to class. I loved my cohort experience. I feel that Brandman truly fosters a culture of support by building each other up. The program doesn’t feel competitive. Rather it feels like you have a second family cheering you on and rooting for your success.
What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult?
Don’t quit! Don’t give up. There will be times when it is hard but don’t give up because it is really important professionally and personally. You become a role model for your family and friends and set the example of what can be achieved.
Did anything surprise you about Brandman University?
I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed my classes at Brandman. I was nervous to go back to school as I was worried I would not be able to balance the workload. I had apprehension about the unknown. However, I was surprised how comfortable and accommodating everyone was, and they really wanted me to be successful. I was surprised how great the people were from classmates to faculty. I didn’t expect to make friends for life.
What would you have done differently?
I would have taken the opportunity to tap into my professors early on. I built great relationships with my professors mid-way through my program. I realized I could take advantage of my professors and seek advice from them. The faculty is very knowledgeable and has been so helpful during my time at Brandman and beyond.
What motivated you while going back to school?
I always thought it was important to get a postgraduate degree. I knew I needed to wait to have some work experience under my belt. I definitely feel it was my work experience that helped me bring more to the table in class. I think you need to have that for an MBA program.
I wanted to grow in my career personally. I wanted to challenge myself. Education is a tremendous thing to have. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Going back to school inspired me to keep moving forward. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to look outside of Molina if it weren’t for my time at Brandman and the support of faculty along the way.
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