MBA Alternative

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:35 pm

Several years ago, Don Eisenhauer, manager of engineering at Brown Deer-based Sanitaire Corp., was looking for a way to continue his education. He had taken several courses through several different universities and other educational programs over the years, but had not found exactly what he was looking for.

Eisenhauer didn’t think he had the time to devote to a traditional MBA program because he had three small children and was active in several organizations in Menomonee Falls, where he lives.But there were things he wanted to work on in his professional and

personal life.

As manager of engineering, Eisenhauer had an extensive education in engineering, but not much training in employee management, hiring, budgeting and financial work. Those were areas he wanted to improve in his management role.

"I’m someone who’s always believed in life-long learning and always felt the need to improve myself in venues outside of the office," he said. "But I didn’t want to put in the time for an MBA."

After careful selection, Eisenhauer eventually decided to enroll in the Effective Management Practices program, one of the certificate programs offered though Marquette University’s College of Professional Studies. Eisenhauer added the certificate program to his continued education, which has included his participation in the Leadership Menomonee Falls organization, the village’s Optimists Club and other educational programs.

Eisenhauer was also recently elected to the Menomonee Falls School Board. He previously served a one-year appointment on the board.

"With all of my obligations, I didn’t need an MBA," he said. "I felt like if I got the certificate, it would complete my well-rounded continued education. And it’s worked out well."

There are several required courses in the certificate program. Others courses are electives, similar to a college degree or MBA program. Eisenhauer said some of the courses were particularly helpful to him, giving him new skills he could bring to the workplace right away.

One of those classes taught financial skills for newly appointed managers who don’t have a financial background. As an engineer, Eisenhauer said the program helped him understand complicated spreadsheets, budgeting and other forms he wasn’t used to seeing.

"There was a lot of pressure on the financial side, and a lot of terms I wasn’t used to," he said. "I did not have that training at all. So that was one of the first courses I took."

Sanitaire, a division of White Plains, N.Y.-based ITT Industries Inc., reimbursed Eisenhauer’s tuition for the certificate program. Eisenhauer was allowed to work flexible hours while he was taking classes, because some of the courses were taught during the day. During those times, he would shift his work hours to evenings or earlier in the morning.

"Your job doesn’t go away," he said. "But we have an environment here where we hold professional growth highly. We have several people in our engineering program here taking classes now."

Eisenhauer said some of the classes taught in the program that deal with managerial techniques and learning to listen to people have helped with his new managerial duties.

"One of the classes deals with problem solving," he said. "We deal with a lot of challenging situations (in engineering), and this dealt with decision making and conflict resolution. I just used the process recently. We had a problem with one of our facilities in Chile, and I went to the book and we were able to come up with a solution with the method (covered in the book)."

A course in supervising others was also helpful, because Eisenhauer was still inexperienced in managing a department. The course discussed personality differences and the importance of getting to know about employees’ long-term goals, he said.

"It taught us that not only is everybody different, but they strive for different things," Eisenhauer said. "They have their own ideas of what success is, and that rather than assume what those are, I should stop and sit with that person and listen to them. I need to ask them about what things they think would make them more successful. It really got into my listening skills."

The Certificate in Effective Management Practices Program is the most popular of the non-credit programs the university offers for adults interested in continuing education, said Paul Smith, director of recruiting services for Marquette’s College of Professional Studies. The program is designed for adults looking to learn material they can take to their jobs right away, he said.

The Certificate in Effective Management Practices Program is being redesigned. The new certificate program, which has not been named yet, will be introduced in the spring. The current program takes two to three years to complete. The new certificate will take less time, perhaps as little as one year, Smith said.

"Some of the classes will be the same, but some will be new," he said. "As there are new areas that companies want courses in, we’ll be able to make adjustments."

Taking continuing education classes should be a priority for anyone who is serious about staying current in their career path, Eisenhauer said. Today’s workers may change jobs many more times than workers in the past, so people need to keep themselves ready for change, he said.

"If I see a resume, I look to see if they are interested in promoting their skill sets and forwarding their career in places other than just the office," Eisenhauer said. "It’s critical to go and show that you are willing to learn new things."

In addition, a continuing education program like Marquette’s certificate program is a good opportunity to network with people in a business climate from outside your own company or industry, he said.

"You run into the same people and you get to know them from different classes," Eisenhauer said. "You exchange information, and you can call them when you have a situation. You can’t do enough networking. The more people you know in the business community, the more opportunities you’ll have."

Classes in Effective Management Practices

Current classes in the Certificate in Effective Management Practices Program, a non-credit program offered through Marquette University’s College of Professional Studies.

Introductory course:

– Managerial Assessment of Proficiency

Required courses:

– Decision Making/Problem Solving

– Mastering Communications

– Critical Management Skills

– Supervising Others Successfully


– Business Ethics – A Practical Guide

– Negotiating Skills for Managers

– Put It In Writing

August 19, 2005, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display