Kayleigh O’Keefe, Executive MBA ‘15

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"If you want to better understand who you are as a person, your company or if you want to continuously learn, get your MBA at USF because that’s what you’ll be doing during the program. It is like relearning how to learn and how to work with others."

When Kayleigh O’Keefe, ‘15, began the Executive MBA program at the University of San Francisco (USF), she found what she was looking for — the opportunity to grow as a business executive.

“I think without a foundational understanding of business concepts it’s easy to criticize and it’s easy to praise without understanding what’s happening in the environment,” O’Keefe said. “I wanted to really understand the framework of what they’re doing and then of course then be the one to be making those decisions and have some guidance and support.”

It was a smart move for O’Keefe, as she has since been promoted to Sales Director for CEB’s Sales Effectiveness Solutions Group, a company that helps organizations find best practices and drive corporate performance.

For O’Keefe, the opportunity to continue working full-time while earning her Executive MBA was an important factor in choosing the program.

One of the main benefits of the program is being able to take what you’re learning in the classroom and apply it instantly.

“I go back to work Monday morning and get to think differently about how I’m managing my team, my time and how I’m working with others. If you go off and do a two-year program, you lose that playground of your work environment to test what you’re learning in the real world. So that was a huge factor for me.”

The program wasn’t the only thing that attracted O’Keefe to USF. She also valued the school’s Jesuit mindset, particularly self-awareness and the ability to give back to others.

Patience, working with others, and teaching and helping others along was like a huge area of growth that needed to happen for me at this point in my career,” O’Keefe said. “There’s a culture and mindset that’s expected at USF, and having that mindset creates an environment conducive to learning and helping others learn along the way.”

As a professional, O’Keefe also recognized places where she could improve her day-to-day interactions and it was her goal to find out how to do that while amongst her cohort and professors.

“I had a set of habits that I developed over the last 28 years that were no longer serving me for where I want to go in my career, like pleasing authority figures or not sharing my opinion at times when I wanted to,” O’Keefe said. “In those moments, I now have the confidence, the ability, and also the need to address those habits. USF taught me that if you really believe you have some gifts and talents, then they can be shared with others.”

O’Keefe said the Executive MBA was the inspiration for making these changes in her professional career.

“If you want to better understand who you are as a person, or why that co-worker bothers you so much, or why your company’s doing things, if you’re looking for understanding and you’re trying to continuously learn, don’t just go back and get your Executive MBA, get it at USF, because that’s what you’ll be doing during the program, relearning how to learn and how to work with others,” O’Keefe said.