You don’t meet many people with their own tagline, but Courtnay Oddman’s fits her perfectly. “My personal tagline is ‘taking things from good to great,” she says.
True to her tagline, Oddman 23EvMBA is on a perpetual course of self-improvement, which is why she’s pursuing her second master’s degree in less than ten years. In 2014, she earned a Master’s of Education from the University of Maryland, focusing on college student counseling and personnel services. Since she has held five different roles within Emory University’s Office of Campus Life over the past eight years, her degree prepared her well. Now as the assistant director of training and development for Emory University, Oddman is looking to expand her skillset even more through Goizueta’s Evening MBA program.
“The pandemic allowed me to focus on my own career advancement,” she says. “Up until then, I had my head down in my work instead of having my head up and asking myself where I wanted to go and what skills I wanted to add to my repertoire.”
As the daughter of two MBA graduates, Oddman initially resisted the pull of business school. “I didn’t just want to do exactly what my parents did.”
I’m glad I did decide to do the MBA because Goizueta has the best professors that any business school has to offer. They’re focused on a student-centered approach, and the experiences outside the classroom that I’ve been afforded have been invaluable to me, both professionally and personally.
While the pandemic allowed Oddman to reevaluate her priorities, it has also presented opportunities to apply what she’s learning in the MBA to her work at the university. “COVID has been challenging, but it’s also been an exciting time in our office. Higher education doesn’t change very much, but the pandemic allowed us to try new approaches that we might not have otherwise.”
Always trying to take things from “good to great,” Oddman used the pandemic as a chance to really listen to students and find out what they needed most during that first year. “Adaptability is always a skill that is needed in residence life because our students are always changing. The Emory students from five years ago are not the Emory students that we have now. I run a training program every year for our 230+ student staff, and I ask for feedback from everyone who goes through the training so I can figure out what worked, what didn’t work, and also how the residents’ needs are changing.”
As someone who actively seeks constructive criticism, Oddman has thrived as a Delta Leadership Coaching Fellow (LCF), one of the many hands-on experiences offered through the Evening MBA program.
“The LCF experience helped me better understand the difference between supervision, management, and coaching as well as when to pivot between those different roles,” she says. “It’s also helped me focus on my listening skills.”
To be an empathetic leader, you have to be a good listener, and the [Delta Leadership Coaching Fellows] program has made me a better listener—someone who is able to think about the team as a whole and not just focus on the work that needs to get done.
In the program, students receive mentoring their first year, then become mentors the next, a format that offers the kind of feedback and reflection Oddman values. “To be selected to coach a group of first-year MBAs, having just gone through that experience myself, and being able to ask myself, ‘What did I learn? How can I do better?’ was just such an amazing experience.”
The MBA program has Oddman looking forward as well as back. The classes she’s taken have opened her eyes to opportunities she didn’t know were out there. “Before the MBA, I wasn’t thinking about finance, or strategy, or human capital consulting, or predictive analytics,” she says. “Those things are interesting to me now. I’m excited that I get to solve a whole host of new problems and ask new questions in my work.”
Oddman even likes to stretch herself with her hobbies—literally. In addition to weekly yoga, Oddman takes a ballet class at Emory from instructor and fellow-MBA student Laura Davis McGee 23MBA. For Oddman, these activities are a quiet haven in an otherwise whirlwind schedule of work and school. “[Yoga and ballet] have been helping me slow down and become a little more graceful and patient,” she says.
Have you stretched to realize your full potential in business? Goizueta offers a wide variety of graduate programs for students with specific career aspirations and schedules. Learn more about these growth opportunities today.