New program director focused on building student camaraderie

NORTH BAY – The Master of Business Administration at Sonoma State University aims to prepare graduates for positions of leadership in organizational settings in both the private and public sectors.

“At the school of business and economics, our main focus has been graduate programs this year because we see a need in the community, and we want to fill it,” said Kris Wright, the new MBA program director at SSU. She oversees the traditional MBA and the MBA in Wine Business, both of which are part-time programs for working people

The general MBA does not include a concentration or specialization in any functional area of business. However, in addition to the required courses, the general MBA degree program does offer a variety of electives that students can select from to strengthen their skill set in a particular area.

A second option is the new MBA with a concentration in wine business. The Wine Business MBA shares some courses in common with the general MBA, while also including three courses specific to the wine industry.

Ms. Wright went through the MBA program at SSU herself.

“I am excited about the opportunity having gone through the program, giving back to the community.”

She is trying to create more camaraderie with the students.

“It is not a cohort, like the executive MBA program,” said Ms. Wright. “But most of the students have a lot of crossover, so there is some feeling of solidarity.”

She said the school is trying to reach out to the community more in order to get an internship program going for the master’s students and to redesign the curriculum.

“It would look the same as an undergrad internship, but for the MBA we hope to put students in a higher level work environment and they would have more responsibility.”

Currently there are 60 students, with 20 in the Wine Business MBA program. To qualify for the Wine Business MBA, a prospective student must have two years of wine-related experience, whether classes at another institution or work in the field.

Most of the students end up in local wineries. There are five to six courses offered per semester, including three or four of the required classes and one to two electives.

“Most people in the program take two classes at a time, as they are almost all working people,” Ms. Wright said.

As for making the program better for the students, the program is working on building teamwork skills among students.

“That is why I am trying to create more camaraderie. Our students are very busy, and there is not a lot of extracurricular activity in the community.”