MBA Spotlight: Kunkle proves degree benefits both student and employer
Colleen Kunkle, MBA ’14, knows something about making connections. First, she brought together her class work and work experience to enhance her career. Second, she brought together her colleagues at Penske Truck Leasing. Co. in Reading, PA with the MBA program she was attending at Alvernia University. Both connections ended up being very good for everyone involved.
After starting her career as an accounting supervisor at Penske Truck Leasing in 2009, Colleen set her sights on an MBA. “Several of my coworkers who enrolled in the [Alvernia] MBA program spoke highly of their experiences, so I thought I’d check it out,” recalls Colleen, now a customer onboarding manager at Penske Truck Leasing.
By 2011, she was on her way to an MBA degree and encountering the rewards and challenges a graduate education offers.
“Each of the professors brought more than an academic perspective,” Colleen says. “They brought something tangible. I learned from their experiences and I was able to apply it to my own work.”
She also credits fellow MBA students with helping her develop. By sharing experiences, issues and best practices, Colleen and her classmates learned from each other.
“The world of business often comes down to how we work with and relate to one another,” she states. “The Alvernia MBA program holds this idea close to its heart and you feel that throughout the program.”
Bringing Grad School to the Workplace
A couple years into the MBA program at Alvernia, Colleen was asked to serve an important role in helping her Penske Truck Leasing colleagues advance their education. Essentially, she would be a liaison between Alvernia and Penske Truck Leasing. She would help determine if there were enough associates at work interested in attending an Alvernia graduate program on-site at the company.
Colleen agreed to join the team, which was comprised of Alvernia’s Director of Business Outreach Toni Eckert and members of the School of Graduate and Adult Education. They hosted several information sessions to gauge the interest of Penske Truck Leasing’s associates. Through the information sessions, it was discovered employee interest was clustered into two areas: degree completion in business management and the MBA program.
“Ultimately, [Alvernia and Penske Truck Leasing] decided to move forward with an MBA cohort and I assisted with coordinating the enrollment and start-up procedures,” Colleen says.
The on-site MBA program began in October 2013. The program follows a cohort model, meaning that students start collectively and graduate together. Classes meet once a week, after the workday ends, with students expected to complete the program in about three years.
The cohort experience provides an opportunity for Penske Truck Leasing associates from different parts of the business to build cross-functional relationships with each other, according to Colleen. “This fits nicely with Penske’s culture of operating as a unified team across all departments, product lines, locations and business functions.”
The program also honors a value of Penske Truck Leasing: Education. The company supports employee education by offering a tuition reimbursement program and waived application fees and reduced tuition rates for students in the on-site MBA program.
Colleen knows the benefits of an advanced degree, personally and for Penske Truck Leasing.
“An MBA degree will provide for a well-rounded business professional with an increased ability to see the big picture,” she says. “That certainly aids in the advancement of our people and our business.”