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Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

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Greg Smith, Executive MBA

Greg Smith

EMBA Class 39
Vice President, HANA In-Memory Technology
SAP America
"I’m better able to tackle factors outside my company, negotiate contracts, and allocate value."
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"There were 36 of us – from various industries and functional areas, the military, and the public sector. So when our professors posed a question, they received 36 different perspectives."

Return on investment

Smith’s organization is part of SAP America, the U.S. subsidiary of the world’s largest enterprise-software company. The software enables large enterprises to run their business better. Before he enrolled in the Executive MBA program, Smith says he was caught myopically in his own area. The program taught me to think more broadly and strategically."

Smith was promoted to his current position in January 2013 and has taken on additional cross-functional responsibilities. "Now, I’m better able to tackle factors outside my company, negotiate contracts, and allocate value."

The importance of C-suite business skills

In Smith’s opinion, executives must be able to “anticipate what’s next. They need to look beyond the confines of their own corporations and consider the challenges of the business world.

"A lack of C-suite skills clearly limits technical managers’ leadership opportunities, putting a ceiling on professional growth and enterprise-wide management."

What surprised him most about the program?

Smith says he was surprised and pleased by the diversity of his program peers. “There were 36 of us – from various industries and functional areas, the military, and the public sector. So when our professors posed a question, they received 36 different perspectives. That wouldn’t happen in a more homogenous group.

"I remember a case study we discussed on child labor laws in India. Obviously, we were all against child labor, but often situations like this are more complicated. An Indian classmate, who was here on a fellowship, pointed out that if 12 year olds who live in slums in India don’t have jobs, they frequently don’t eat. ‘Which problem is worse, hunger or underage employment?’ he asked. ‘We need to look for compromise solutions like education and improved nutrition."

Advice for professionals who are considering the program

"Saying I didn’t have time would’ve been a cop out. No one has the time. You have to make time. The reality is that if I had waited too long to jump in, I could’ve been passed over – or retired without ever doing it. People need to make compromises to pursue what’s important."

Greg Smith

Vice President, HANA In-Memory Technology, SAP America

Previous Employment

SAP America; Mitchell Humphrey & Co.

Background

Education: Southern Illinois University