Degree: Executive MBA
Class Year: 2019
Position and Employer: Director, Premium Sales and Services, Philadelphia Phillies
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
In the Philadelphia Phillies’ first season under new manager Gabe Kapler, the team is emphasizing “value at the margins”: making small, incremental changes that improve the team’s performance over the long run.
While Kapler and his coaches are new to Philadelphia, Matt Kessler has spent more than 15 years working for his hometown team. This year, with the team’s new guiding philosophy and “VAM” emblazoned on its uniform, Kessler decided to make an effort to add value to his skillset, and to the Phillies organization as a whole, through his studies in the Drexel Executive Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) program.
Kessler knew early on that he wanted to have a career in sports, and though his undergraduate college didn’t offer a degree in sport management, he majored in government and politics and considered attending law school before taking an internship with a minor-league team. That was his leg up into entering the sports world, and the next season, he was with the Phillies.
“I knew I always wanted to go back to school, although I don’t know if there’s ever a perfect time for it,” he says. “Right now, there are lots of changes in the organization and in the industry as a whole.”
When he first considered the Drexel EMBA during summer 2017, he contacted one of his Phillies’ clients who had been part of a previous EMBA cohort and sat in on classes during a visit to campus. “I saw that there would be interesting professors and talented classmates I knew I could learn a lot from,” he says.
Starting with the on-campus residency that kicked off the year last fall, Kessler says, “I knew I’d have the opportunity to learn from people from all walks of life, and that was really energizing and eye-opening for me. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve been amazed by how much I’ve learned from the cohort, both inside and outside of class.”
Highlights of the program so far for him include a Financial Reporting class with adjunct professor Albert DeRitis – “He’s someone who has been-there, done-that and brings so much real-life experience to his teaching” – and Business Problem Solving with Suresh Chandran, associate clinical professor of management. “These case studies of well-known companies overcoming difficult obstacles really allowed me to look at things differently.”
Ultimately, Kessler looks at the EMBA program as “something that will give me more value to the organization. You always have to think about your current motivation, and you want to make sure you’re as valuable as possible.”