After transitioning from consulting to real estate following graduation, Jeff Hedges, WG’15, found that his MBA training and credential helped him move quickly into the C-suite.

A few years after graduating from college, Jeff Hedges, WG’15, thought about going back to school full-time for an MBA. However, that was at the height of the economic downturn and he was busy working on interesting consulting projects, including several assignments in the UK and Ireland related to the European debt crisis. He decided that it wasn’t the right time to step away from his consulting career.

By the time he was ready to consider school again, Jeff was on a partnership track at his consulting firm and didn’t necessarily need an MBA. However, he was interested in exploring other opportunities down the road, and he knew that a Wharton MBA could provide the knowledge, skills, and network needed to open doors.

“I came to Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives thinking this may be nothing more than just an investment in myself with minimal career return, although I was hopeful it would turn into more and it did,” he said. Now, Jeff is CFO and executive vice president of PS Business Parks (affiliated with Public Storage) in Glendale, CA.

Post-Graduation Transition

While he continued to work at the consulting firm during the EMBA program, his career moved into a new phase after graduation. Just a few days after his commencement ceremony, he “took a leap of faith” and joined Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust, an entrepreneurial business that owned 12,000 single-family rental homes.

Within three months, Starwood merged with Colony American Homes to create Colony Starwood Homes in Arizona. “The CFO of Colony was a Wharton alumnus and we hit off. I moved to Scottsdale, AZ as senior vice president of accounting and had a great experience helping to lead the company,” he said. A few years later, the company entered into another merger with Invitation Homes in Dallas and Jeff was asked to stay on as chief accounting officer, but he ultimately decided to forgo that opportunity as it wasn’t the right fit for him and his family at that time.

As soon as he announced his decision to leave, Jeff’s phone started ringing. “Within two months, I had at least half a dozen conversations with different companies about very interesting opportunities. During those conversations, I was surprised at how many times my Wharton MBA came up. People would routinely pick that up on my resume and knew about Wharton’s EMBA program. This program is a powerful credential.”

In addition to the credential, Jeff noted that Wharton also gave him confidence to tackle new and bigger challenges. “The business knowledge and softer leadership skills that I gained at Wharton were absolutely valuable and applicable to my real-world situation. I also sharpened my critical thinking skills and feel that I am much more balanced in how I assess complicated grey-area decisions and am more careful not to rush to judgment.”

Ultimately Jeff decided to accept an offer to become CFO at PS Business Parks, a REIT that acquires, develops, owns, and operates commercial properties, primarily multi-tenant industrial, flex, and office space. “This is a finance and strategy role, as I’m focused on capital markets, the portfolio, and asset management for the company, which owns just under 30-million square feet of industrial, flex and office space around the country with 5,000 commercial customers. It is a very exciting role and opportunity,” he said.

Jeff credits Wharton with helping him to get to the next level of his career. “The Wharton EMBA program is a testament to the individuals who go through it because of its intensity and rigor. It’s a valuable program that can help you to open doors and discover new opportunities.”

— Meghan Laska

Posted: November 6, 2018

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