I'm going to divert from the typical conversations about videogames and mountain biking to talk about my wife, Kristin. Moreso than any person can imagine, I've seen how hard she's worked on a daily basis to get where she is and am so happy to see her decide to take the next step. Since the opening days of our freshman year in college, I've seen her dilligently studying night after night for her degree in biochemistry. Four years later I saw that dedication of hers transfer to the work place where she quickly advanced from an entry-level Lab Tech to a Senior Chemist in a few years time. And now, after a couple of years in a new company as the QA Manager, she's ready to move on to bigger things once again.
Those who work with her praise her professionalism and ability to get things done constantly and she's made it clear that she wants a larger stake in managing the operations of the facility. Her wish was granted. In addition to being put in charge of large facility projects, she was given quite a vote of confidence from her company's CEO recently. She's always had the good fortune of having supervisors who saw to it to be a mentor as well as a boss, and this one is no exception. He called her into his office the other day and told her that he felt it wouldn't be long before she was running a company like theirs. That he knows she wants to be an Operations Officer, but that he also knows she needs an advanced degree to reach the executive level of the company. Any company.
He then went on to tell her that nobody in the company had an MBA and that she was the only one who he felt was suited for getting one. So he made the offer: the company will pay for her to get an MBA in exchange for an equal number of years of service after the schooling is completed. Of course the hope is that by the time she completes the program, an officer position in the company will be available. Or created.
It's an amazing offer, but in true Kristin fashion, she didn't want to accept it because of the time it would take her away from me. I told her she was crazy. No, actually, I reminded her that it was something that she thought about years ago and that this is a great opportunity and that she had to decide whether or not she wanted to continue advancing through the company or continue as-is indefinitely like so many of her peers. She's at a crossroads. With so many people getting advanced degrees these days, it's unrealistic to expect to reach the officer level of a company without one, regardless how great and experienced you are. Most company's Boards won't allow it. And yes it will be very hard to handle a stressful full-time job and be a student, but if anyone can do it it's her.
So she decided she's going to apply to the University of Washington's Executive MBA program for fall of 2007. She made the decision yesterday afternoon after talking with a friend of mine in a similar program. We had dinner in the city last night with some former co-workers of hers who were in the area on business from NC, but it felt like a celebratory dinner. Of course, she hasn't actually accomplished anything yet, but sometimes you need to simply celebrate the end of a stressful decision-making process.
Last night while laying in bed, Kristin had something to say but didn't know how to spit it out. She wanted to know if, more or less, her success was threatening to me; or if I would feel pressure to go back to school now that she is. Not at all. For starters, I already did the grad school thing. Secondly, I'm very happy with my current standing professionaly -- my work is rewarding, entertaining, and lucrative -- and I know Kristin understands how hard I have to work to keep it going. I work hard and play very hard and while a lot of people only see or hear about the latter, she knows the truth. But mostly, how could I possibly have any reservations about her striving for more. Even though she's only 30, I've seen her working towards this day in and day out since before our 18th birthdays. Everything we do, we do together and for one another. She's the reason I stay up all hours of the night in crunch time and I know she'll do the same for me. And if it means we see each other a little less for two or three years or that I do the lion's share of the housework, so be it. The sacrifice now will be worth the rewards in the future. By both of us and for both of us.