Degree: Executive MBA
Class Year: 2010
Position and Employer: President, Gnostech, Inc.
James Espino had never gone on a job interview. Instead, he spent 20 years letting someone else select his jobs for him. Such is the life of a U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate. But after relocating seven times during their first 14 years of marriage, Espino and his wife decided it was time to put down roots. It was 2008. They were in Philadelphia, and this is where they decided to stay.
Espino knew he needed help transitioning into the corporate world. Step one was to investigate the region’s MBA programs. Step two became obvious to him. He needed enroll in the Executive MBA (EMBA) at Drexel LeBow.
“Drexel seemed to have the strongest alumni network in the area,” he said. “Coming out of the military and transitioning into the civilian world, that was critical for me. I needed to tap into an established network.”
At Drexel LeBow, he found an active alumni association that brought executives who had graduated from the program back to campus for class discussions and events. The network also was sitting in class with him. The students in his cohort included healthcare, chemical and nonprofit executives and owners of small businesses. Each student had his or her own set of skills and perspectives.
But for Espino, the most valuable lesson was learning the nuances of leadership.
“Any leadership position has two basic responsibilities: risk management and resource allocation,” Espino said. “LeBow taught me the soft skills. The executive coaching we did helped me become a more nuanced leader. In business, no one’s going to salute, say ‘aye-aye,’ and go do it. You have to work hard at developing relationships with the people who work with you, for you and above you.”
“Good leaders tend to make sure that the people who work for, with or above them are taken care of,” he added. “They find ways to make other people’s jobs easier to do.”
Espino turned those insights, his education and his military career into a role as chief operating officer for Gnostech Inc., a small-business defense contractor that provides engineering solutions for weapons systems, cyber security and global positioning satellite functions. When Gnostech became a wholly owned subsidiary of Braxton Science and Technology Group, Espino was named president.
“It’s been challenging in many respects, but I could not have done it without the LeBow EMBA degree. Understanding basic finance and having the ability to ‘connect the dots’ in the business environment along with the outstanding leadership training and education, helped me navigate through a tricky situation as the intersection of the founder’s family and the buyers.”