WPI Insider: Katie Cooney

[WPI Insider] Katie Cooney

January 4, 2019
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Increased self confidence. Credibility among peers. Self discipline. Improved communication. Global thinking. Curiosity.

For many, these are the tangibles of an MBA degree.

Just ask Kathryn Cooney, on track for an MBA from WPI’s Foisie Business School in 2019.

The Framingham resident and 9-year veteran of Hanover Insurance Company graduated with a strategic management concentration from Babson College in 2009.

“I loved my time and experience at Babson, but when the time came to look at programs, I wanted to try a different school for a distinctive perspective,” says Cooney. “For me, WPI was that school.”

Katie Cooney WPI InsiderCooney felt that securing her MBA could aid her as a member of Hanover’s Program Management Office, working mainly on the build-out of technology strategy in support of their overall organizational strategy. 

Initially seeing this degree as an accessible opportunity that encouraged a work-life balance, Cooney admits that at first a blended (a combination of online and traditional classroom) course load felt intimidating.

“I thought that online learning was going to be more difficult for me," she says. "I learn by engaging, discussing and applying. The online courses of yesterday (in my mind) were read the text, take a test, and move on to the next subject. This program offers a model that is so much more than that.” 

From online discussion boards that keep her accountable, to the group project framework, Cooney explains that her classmates “get into a rhythm. We know our teams inherent strengths and weaknesses and are able to push ourselves and each other.”

When asked about a favorite course to date, she easily shares that Financial Intelligence for Strategic Decision Making made the top of her list.

“I really enjoyed the way Professor Fabienne Miller structured the course with the intersection of strategy, finance, and ethics—and the guest speakers brought the topics to life,” says Cooney. She says the course was timely, as she was beginning a new step into strategy work at Hanover at the time, “so having the structured support and development from learning in the class was supplementing what I was learning on the job.” 

With WPI’s strong project-based curriculum, it should be no surprise that Cooney says teamwork has been a key element of her grad work. “I learned a new dimension to working on teams and how they function through this program. You are there to further your team, and your team is there to further you.”

The biggest takeaway from the MBA program has been in the depth of connections and relationships Cooney has developed..

“Part of my pursuit of a blended program vs. a program that is strictly online was for the opportunity to network in person,” she explains. “I have developed really strong friendships with my classmates—I talk with them daily and our conversations have expanded to further than just the school work we have going on that day. I’ve gone to them for work advice, coaching, mentoring, and comic relief! Their friendships bring a lot of diversity in background, thinking, and experience to my perspective.”