Alicia Kotarba, Executive MBA
Chief Innovation Officer
"Every day, I use skills that I learned at Olin to drive my company forward."
"Every day I use the skills that I learned at Olin to drive my company forward."
How a “book report” became a successful start-up
Herald’s brainchild, an online, technology-based company that matches “best-fit teachers and schools,” tackles the problem of teacher turnover in education. She got the idea for the start-up during her second year in the Executive MBA program, when she and her classmates were studying innovation and entrepreneurship.
“In Anjan Thakor’s The Structure of Value Using the Competing Values Framework course, we focused on how to create something that truly disrupts a market. As homework, we were reading ‘The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge’ by the Harvard Business Review. Literally, in the middle of the night, I emailed professor Thakor and said: ‘Instead of a report, I'm going to apply the book's lessons and write a white paper on a company I want to start.”
Herald says she had incredible support from Olin faculty to “bring her idea to life. I even had a one-on-one conversation with the dean, who connected me to other professors and community thought leaders who could answer my questions. The dean cleared his schedule to talk with me. I don’t think I would have received that level of attention in other institutions and communities.”
Executive MBA lessons she uses on a daily basis
“Every day, I use skills that I learned at Olin to drive my company forward,” Herald adds. Program takeaways helped her create a pricing structure, marketing and advertising for a “two-sided market,” and a team of employees “empowered to become our future leaders.”
Her initial concerns about enrolling in the program
Herald’s background is in education. She was a fourth-grade teacher and a recruitment director and executive director for Teach For America.
“I was concerned about my skill set coming in to the program, particularly what it would mean to sit in on classes like finance and accounting. But I was able to get through the course work because of the strategic way the EMBA team structured our study groups. We learned from each other and built on each other’s strengths.”
Herald received a supplemental scholarship – offered to a limited number of senior-level, nonprofit-organization professionals – to attend the Executive MBA program.
Alicia Kotarba, MBA 2011
Chief Innovation Officer, Teachers-Teachers
Founder and CEO, myEDmatch LLC; Executive Director, Teach For America; Recruitment Director, Teach For America; Fourth- Grade Teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District
Education: MA Education, Loyala Marymount University;
BA Political Science and Spanish, Washington University in St. Louis