Climbing Higher: How Higher Education Can Get You Promoted

If you’re feeling stalled at your company, a certificate could be your best way up the ladder. It was for eCornell graduate John Gleich, who now serves as Director of Supply Chain and Logistics at a biotech company after graduating from our Executive Leadership Program. Here is his first-hand story, which was recently published within USA Today, in a special feature on today’s working adult learners:

Earlier in my career, I kept getting passed over for promotions by people who had MBAs. But I have two kids and commute two hours to work — there was no way I could afford the time to do a full-blown MBA program.

Rookie Gleich Arivale PhotoI decided to try an online certificate program in Executive Leadership because it fit my life and provided me with an Ivy League credential.  While I was a little unsure what to expect with learning online, it turned out to be the best decision I could have made.  The instructors and other students were really dialed in. They always pushed you to the next level, provided unique insights, and answered your questions with real breadth and depth.

One of the best courses I took was on how to influence within an organization and build a network both inside and outside your company. I always thought my career was stalled because I didn’t have the right degree, but I soon realized this was the piece I was missing as a leader. That was a game-changer — I was promoted from manager to Associate Director, to Director within less than a year. Now I run Supply Chain for a biotech startup that’s on track to double its growth next year.

If you’re thinking about an online certificate program, here’s my advice:

  • Pitch the idea to your company as a win-win and see if they are willing to help pay for it. Many organizations would be happy to subsidize all or part of the cost as part of your professional development.
  • The flexibility alone is a great reason to go for it. I was able to spend my commute and business travel time more productively doing coursework — and could even push pause to spend summer vacation with my family.
  • When you’re stuck at the same level for a long time, a certificate program can give you that incremental edge to set yourself apart. It shows your company that you want to go beyond the required training and do something more meaningful that will make a lasting impact. And that can really take you as far as you want to go.