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Melinda Emerson, ’20

Executive MBA

Bestselling author. Keynote speaker. President and CEO. Entrepreneur. Melinda Emerson, MBA ‘20, goes by a lot of titles. But for her, there was one title missing — educator. It wasn’t enough for Emerson, also known as the SmallBizLady, to become top thought leader on small business and hugely successful in her own right — having run Quintessence Group, a strategic marketing consulting firm, for 23 years. Her company works with Fortune 500 brands that target small business customers. She wanted to help others become successful business owners and achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, too.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 45% of new businesses fail in the first five years. Knowing that statistic, Emerson wondered if she could take what she learned in building her business and help the next generation of entrepreneurs. “Success leaves clues,” she said. “If you could tell people those clues, they’d be better prepared.”

To pass on her knowledge at the college level, Emerson knew she needed the proper credential to teach in higher education. That led her to enrolling in Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business Executive MBA program in 2018.

“There are classes that I was able to apply immediately,” said Emerson. “My business has grown exponentially since I completed this program because of what I learned here.”

Emerson graduated from Drexel with her Executive MBA in 2020 and quickly made her dream of becoming an educator a reality, beginning her career at her alma mater.

“I’m really excited to be partnered with Drexel because I have seen how this education and this network can transform people into what they always wanted to be for themselves, it even transformed me,” said Emerson. “I always wanted to teach in higher education and now I do.”

Fortunately, all her roles have been preparing her to become a small business educator. Her advice has already reached hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs. A former columnist for the New York Times, her articles have been featured in publications, such as Entrepreneur, Inc., Black Enterprise and Essence magazines. She has also been featured on Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Nightly News, ABC News and in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine. Forbes magazine even named her the #1 Woman for Entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.

According to Emerson, business is about figuring out what you don’t know about business. And her new course, Become Your Own Boss, taught within the Goodwin College of Professional Studies, will do just that. Created from her bestselling book that has been in print for twelve years, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, the course is created for beginners who want step-by-step, practical instruction in business ownership. The course covers marketing, sales, operations, customer service, business planning and more.

“I want to make sure students are successful after taking the course. I didn’t design the curriculum with exercises and presentations for the sake of exercises and presentations, students will leave my class with what they need to pitch their business and make money on day one.” Emerson adds, “We’re not just writing a business plan, we’re planning a business.”

Learn more about Become Your Own Boss and other small business courses offered through the Goodwin College of Professional Studies.

Why I chose Drexel’s EMBA Program:

I chose Drexel’s Executive MBA program because it had more diversity than other programs I was looking into at the time. One of the biggest things I appreciated the most about my EMBA experience was how selective they are at Drexel. Not anyone can get into this program, so you know those in your cohort with you also belong there and have something to contribute. It’s similar with the professors, each one is hand-picked to teach EMBA students based on their own qualified credentials.

The Drexel Network:

You will always find Drexel Dragons in high places and it’s amazing how many people you will meet that have a connection to Drexel. In my cohort and even through alumni events I have been fortunate to meet and connect with an amazing group of people that decided to go back to school and up-level themselves and those are the type of people you want to have a relationship with. My cohort are not just my colleagues, they are my family. Even after graduating we are very close and keep in touch so I’m appreciative of my EMBA family.