Crossing Over: Sydney Storey (EMBA ’20)
Published: October 2, 2020 / Author: Ryan Millbern
How Sydney Storey (EMBA ’20) leveraged her degree to switch careers and become a better leader
An effective crossover is key for any point guard. The ability to assess obstacles and change direction at exactly the right moment creates endless opportunities for a team’s success on the basketball court.
Sydney Storey is no stranger to the crossover.
Storey was a member of the University of Tennessee Lady Vols 2008 national championship basketball team and a senior captain during its 2011 campaign. After graduation, she spent the majority of the next decade working in operations and supply chain management for Whirlpool Corporation, where she was a multi-site lead.
It wasn’t until she enrolled in Mendoza’s Executive MBA program in 2019 that she began to think about changing directions in her career.
“The holistic approach to business is something that the EMBA program does really well,” Storey said. “I was exposed to finance and accounting and areas that I wasn’t working in every day. I was more open to wanting to explore different avenues.”
Ultimately, Storey reconnected with a past professional love: marketing.
“I have my undergraduate degree in marketing,” she said. “I hadn’t really thought about it as a career path since college. The courses at Notre Dame showed me how far marketing has come in the last 10 years.”
A Degree of Separation
In May of 2020, Storey accepted a position as Director of Brand Strategy at Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company – a change she attributes to the knowledge she earned during her Executive MBA studies.
“The experience I had in the program helped me switch companies,” Storey explained. “The EMBA degree was a way to separate myself from folks I was on an even trajectory with. Ten years into my career, that was important to get to the next level.”
Storey believes the breadth of knowledge she was exposed to, as well as the academic rigor and pace of the program, helped her secure her new job – and fundamentally change the way she approaches business.
“You walk into the program with ideas about how you think business should be run and you walk out a completely different business mind,” Storey notes. “The return on investment there is limitless. I truly believe that.”
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Part of the return on Storey’s investment came in the form of a nomination for inclusion in Poets & Quants’ 2020 Best and Brightest Executive MBA Students, an accolade that took her by surprise.
“Honestly, of the 48 people in my class, there were so many deserving candidates,” Storey said. “I was excited when I won but I also felt like the entire class got me through the program. It was hard to accept it for just myself.”
Making a Difference from Day One
From day one at Wolverine, Storey began implementing lessons from her Executive MBA program.
One of the first things she contributed to her new company was the implementation of a GOST methodology – framing marketing efforts around specific goals, objectives, strategies and tactics – something she learned in Professor Tim Bohling’s strategic marketing course.
“The leadership and ethics classes challenge you in different ways, and make you think about how to bring your social and emotional intelligence to the table as a leader,” she reflected. “I honestly think that I’m less of a micro-manager after going through the program. I’m more conscious about empowering employees and figuring out how I can help them achieve what they need to achieve.”
Walking the Talk
What Storey looks forward to most in her new role is managing Wolverine’s charitable donations and volunteer efforts.
“Part of being a great leader is walking the talk, and I think I’ll be able to do that with the time I can commit toward charity and helping the community,” Storey said. “Notre Dame really gave me that extra push to want to take that on and to grow the good not only in our business, but in the community as well.”