Alumni: Donna Petiford

MBA Graduation Year: August 2012

Current Profession: Community Volunteer; Volunteer President, chief executive officer and official spokesperson for the Missouri PTA (a statewide organization responsible for training local PTA Leaders and for advocating for the health, safety and well-being of children and families).

We’d love to share more about your professional success with our current and future students – please describe your career path to this point as well as your current profession:  My professional experience includes 17 years in retail banking, primarily as a loan officer. However, I found a passion for volunteering when my daughter (now a junior in college) was in elementary school.  At that time, I decided to “take a year off” and spend more time with my daughter and family.  That was 11 years ago and I have never looked back. I will never regret that choice that I made.  I am thankful for the support of my family and that I have been able to represent children in issues that matter in our local school district, in Jefferson City and in Washington, DC. 

How did your experiences in the Breech School of Business MBA prepare you for or enhance your professional career?  Our succession plan for the Missouri PTA includes my term as President ending in October.  At that time, I will be actively looking for employment and I feel that completing the MBA will be an asset that will help round out my resume and fill my 11- year employment gap.

Were there any specific courses that were especially useful to you?  Having been out of the academic world for over 22 years, I enjoyed every course and feel like I have learned from each professor in the MBA program.   All courses emphasized teamwork and this helped us as students to be able to get to know each other.  It was an honor for me to work with other students who were at different stages in their careers and I feel that I have learned from them as well as from the professors and classes.

In addition, for the Marketing class, my team wrote a marketing plan for a local non-profit.  I was able to draw from and add to my own volunteer experiences by working on that project. 

Do you have any favorite memories of your time in the Breech MBA program?
I will always treasure my memories of our trip to China and climbing the Great Wall.  That is not something that I ever dreamed of doing, in fact, I even dreaded the thought of it.  But I made up my mind to enjoy the adventure and it was amazing and eye-opening.   I loved everything about it.  

In addition, our team’s case was selected for submission to the Society for Case Research 2013 Annual Conference.  Not only was it an honor to be part of the team that worked on this project, I felt the project was a great way to incorporate different aspects of the MBA program as well as the opportunity to create a learning tool for future students.   

I was also part of a team that organized the event “Great Times at the Great Wall”.  This was a gathering of all Breech students (past and present) that have made the trip to China as part of the MBA program.  Not only was it fun to reconnect with fellow MBA students and share memories and photos, this also proved to be a catalyst for starting a scholarship for study abroad students.  

What advice would you offer to a new student beginning the Breech School of Business MBA program?
Make the most of every opportunity while you are in the program.   Don’t underestimate the value of having an assigned mentor.  I enjoyed meeting my mentor and we bonded over lunch and by sharing our job experiences, interests and hobbies.  At one of our lunch meetings, she let me know that her company was reorganizing and that she would soon be looking for work.  She wanted to know if I would like to be assigned another mentor, and I told her that I thought this would be a valuable learning experience for both of us.  I remember we talked about how great it would be if she could make a living while doing something she really enjoyed, like scuba diving.  Today she is the aquatics director at a local scuba and swim club.  She has become more than a mentor, she’s my inspiration.     

Any other comments that you would like to make about your time in the Breech MBA program?  Completing this program was a dream- come- true for me.  While others dream of travel, I find great satisfaction in learning.  This was more than a sort of “bucket list” accomplishment; it was a life-changing experience.