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| Nov 10, 2021 |

New Scholarship Program Targets Professionals in Industries Impacted by COVID-19

By Claire Curry

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, it brought numerous industries to a screeching halt and fueled explosive growth in others. In the aftermath of the crisis, business leaders are learning valuable lessons as they steer their organizations back to life and devise strategies to future-proof them and their own careers.

Now more than ever, professionals working in industries affected by or critical to the successful recovery from the pandemic—health care, hospitality and leisure, airlines, oil and gas, retail, insurance, and real estate, among others—need different skills and tools to navigate their companies and careers through a new business landscape and global economy.

To that end, the Gabelli School introduced the Career Forward Scholarship to provide financial assistance for professionals in these industries to pursue an MBA through the school’s Executive MBA and Professional MBA programs.

The Gabelli School’s Career Forward Scholarship provides financial assistance for professionals in industries impacted by COVID-19 to pursue an MBA through the school’s Executive MBA and Professional MBA programs.

“People are reassessing where they are and thinking about future-proofing their careers and going back to school to do that,” said Gabelli School Senior Assistant Dean Lawrence Mur’ray, II. “They were sitting on the edge of their seats during the pandemic as people were being laid off, thinking that they don’t want to find themselves in this position again in the future.”

While many professionals in these industries were not necessarily at risk of losing their jobs, they faced challenges they may not ever have dealt with before. “They may have had to think through more strategic types of issues after being put in a position to make some of these decisions for their organizations, potentially finding themselves without some of the core skill sets that they may need to have done it better,” Mur’ray said.

Businesses across numerous industries, such as retail, hospitality, and food service, succumbed to the impact of the pandemic, with hundreds of small firms, hotels, and restaurants in New York City alone permanently closing their doors.

“Whenever there are layoffs, the people that are left are managing a lot more than they did before,” Mur’ray said, adding that other industries like fintech and online retail—thnk Amazon—saw explosive growth.

The pandemic also shone a spotlight on the importance of product planning and management, functions that took a backseat to brand management since the late 1990s.

“Last year’s pandemic and the subsequent challenges created by it brought back the importance of product planning and management functions, and thus of product managers,” said Professor Sertan Kabadayi, Ph.D., who teaches Customer-driven Marketing and Marketing Management in the MBA programs. “This time, though, other relevant and related positions like supply chain managers, logistic directors, merchandising planners and procurement specialists have all proven vital in the ‘new business normal.’”

As the public sought out essential products in the midst of the unexpected global crisis, many companies quickly realized that their ability to deliver those products became more important than their brand names.

“For many customers, their favorite brands did not mean much if they could not get their hands on those essential products,” Kabadayi said. “And those product planning and management functions became critical for the survival of companies. It would not be too farfetched to assume that many companies are already reviewing and revising their plans and reprioritizing.”

In addition to addressing the evolving needs for positions in marketing and other fields, the Career Forward Scholarship Program is particularly timely because the industries that the scholarship targets typically don’t sponsor Executive MBA or Professional MBA programs, according to Francis Petit, Ed.D., associate dean for global initiatives and partnerships at the Gabelli School.

“Corporate financial sponsorship has been on the decline for many, many years,” he said. “In the past, companies would pay the whole thing. But now it’s different. Now students are paying more out of pocket. It’s our social responsibility as a business school to help these industries.”

The Executive MBA program is held one weekend each month for 21 months and the Professional MBA program is a part-time evening program students usually complete within two to two-and-a-half years. Both are attractive alternatives to a full-time MBA for professionals who work full time. The scholarship will award $20,000 – $25,000 to eligible applicants, beginning with the fall 2021 cohorts.

For more information about the Career Forward Scholarship for Working Professionals, please reach out to Marc Skurski at mskurski@fordham.edu. Additional information about our working professionals programs can be found on the Gabelli School Graduate Admissions page.

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