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Posted 10.10.05

In planning for his future, James W. Rogerson, COO and executive vice president of operations of the Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network, did what many executives do and decided to pursue an executive MBA.

But what he didn’t plan for was a marketing homework assignment to turn into a new career opportunity a few months after graduation.

With 15 years of experience in the health care industry, Rogerson recognized that some of the things he needed in his career were additional strategy and leadership skills. But making the decision to continue his education wasn’t an easy one.

“I looked at the EMBA program at Case for about three years before I went into it,” says Rogerson, EMBA ’05. “At one point I realized that I had been looking at the program longer than it would have taken for me to finish it. I figured then that I better sign up.”

Like many EMBA candidates, Rogerson had some initial trepidation regarding how to balance work, family and study for his classes. “Not being in school for 20 years … you don’t know what to expect and that first semester was pretty challenging from a time perspective,” explains Rogerson.

Fortunately, he found that beyond just advancing his business skills he could use his time at Weatherhead to both his and his employer’s advantage.

It began with an EMBA marketing class. Rogerson and his fellow students were given the task of writing up a marketing plan. What began as an assignment eventually developed into the blueprint for the growth of an existing business.

“I thought why not do this marketing plan for an existing company and maybe it can help,” says Rogerson.

That’s where Therapy Partners came in. This off-shoot of Rogerson’s employer was started three years before he came to the EMBA program in order to generate some revenue for Eliza Jennings.

Therapy Partners was small and had little to no market presence but it did have some customers. Through his work at Weatherhead, Rogerson saw an opportunity for growth.

“When I started the program I had no idea or intentions of working on Therapy Partners but why not use the resources of the university while I’m here and get something done for my employer, as well as, for me,” Rogerson explains.

His work on the marketing plan went so well that Rogerson enrolled in a semester of independent study so that he could incorporate the marketing into a full business plan.

Because he was attempting to create a for-profit company from a non-profit, his Weatherhead advisor put him in touch with faculty at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and members of the legal community that specialize in non-profits.

After two semesters of work and a few meetings with the Eliza Jennings board of directors, Therapy Partners - a therapy management company that provides rehabilitation to older adults, was given the green light to expand with Rogerson as its president.

For Rogerson the EMBA program and the growth of his new company were a result of a good program, good connections and perfect timing.

“The EMBA program really has helped me pull everything together so that I could give Therapy Partners the jumpstart it needed,” he says. “It would have been really challenging on my own. Going through the process at Weatherhead meant having someone to help me work through the steps, guide me and make me think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Although it took him three years to enroll, Rogerson suggests others shouldn’t hesitate about making the decision to enroll in the EMBA program.

“It was very rewarding; it made me a different person,” says Rogerson.

For more information on the Executive MBA program, please visit our website or attend our first Open House on December 13, 2005.

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