The miniMBA Pipeline: Arlene Hampton talks promotion, taking classes full-time

Community, Programs,

In gearing up for our next cohort of Eastside miniMBA students, the Bellevue Chamber met with program grad, Arlene Hampton, to discuss her experience in the program, what she learned, and how her career has blossomed since graduating. 

From Mary’s Place Senior Site Director to Salvation Army big-wig and MBA candidate, Hampton chalks up much of her professional growth to the skills she acquired during the miniMBA program … particularly being able to shed self-doubt. 

Get to Know Arlene:

Q: First things first, tell me a little about yourself!

A: My name is Arlene Hampton, I was born and raised in Seattle, and I’m currently the Director of Programs for The Salvation Army.

Q: You also are a graduate of the Eastside Mini MBA’s first cohort. What got you interested in that program?

A: I was at a Bellevue Chamber Luncheon, and there was someone there talking about how there was this new program that started, and they were doing a ‘mini MBA’. This sounded like something that I should do and wanted to do, so I looked into it, followed the application process, and got in.

Q: Before you started the program, what were some of your initial expectations?

A: I was nervous. I was like, ‘What’s my motivation in doing this?’ It’s not like I didn’t already have a full plate, but it was something important to me. Education has always been important to me, and I’ve always been in a position of learning and growing and obtaining more knowledge. I knew this program would check all of those boxes, but I was wondering how I would do it, what it would look like, and what does an MBA even mean? I was wondering if I would be working at night or during the day, and I had all those questions floating around in my head. 

But by the second class, all of that became calm, because they were very great about describing the coursework, the objectives, and the support that would happen. It became very evident by class 2 that this was going to be doable and everything made sense.

Q: Were the types of people who were in your cohort surprising to you?

A:  I didn’t know what to expect. There were a lot of individuals from the corporate world, and being in the nonprofit world, I was thinking ‘How much of this is going to translate? Are they coming in already with a baseline of the lingo and language?’ 

But again, it was not like that. The coursework and the material were super easy to follow, and the professors who did the different workshops always answered questions. It was still classes and college, so there were assignments and discussions, but all the materials that you needed were right there, accessible to you.

Q: At the end, you had this big capstone project. Can you tell me a little bit about yours?

A: There was a list and we could choose from the list, and I went the easier way — it was something about individual experiences with homelessness. But the professor, who I loved, was like ‘I’m gonna challenge you, do something else.’ So, I ended up doing this challenge about how to use SAAS (Software as a Service) and how to make that accessible to women and small businesses as opposed to just those major corporations. They can use that technology to further expand their brand and increase their revenue to be able to develop the software they need in order to keep inventory and market their products and everything they need to sustain their business’ life cycle.

Q: That probably spoke to the nonprofit heart in you.

A: Even a nonprofit, it’s a business, a corporation, so everything in the class were actually things that I could apply. For example, we don’t talk about profit, but we talk about making positive outcomes on a mission. So those were the things I was able to translate most, but all of the information that I learned was something that I can use — and I did use in my former job — now in my current work. 

Q: On that note, tell me a little bit about your current job. Are there any skills you learned during the program that you are now glad that you've learned?

A: After that class, I felt like the sky's the limit. It really opened me up to ridding myself of those limiting beliefs about having the space and capacity to do these things, so I started to look at how I can apply what I learned and what I can do.  I had a wonderful job where I was working at, but I was also looking at what else was out there and how I can best utilize my skills and my gifts, and also how can I also put myself in a position where I can continue to expand beyond that. This led me to the Salvation Army, overseeing the Director of Programs, all the social services, shelters, day centers, outreach programs for the Seattle/King County area, and I was just so excited … All of these things happened after completing the class.

It was definitely a confident booster and a reminder to tap into my gifts, talents, and abilities. I am loving my new job and am excited, but there’s more: I am also in school full-time, doing my executive MBA program! And again, this probably wouldn’t be something that I would’ve done had it not been for the miniMBA program. 

Q: What would you say to someone who has just learned about this program and is thinking about if this is for them?

A: There is something in there for everyone, whether you want to start a business or just grow your skill set … All of this led to where I am right now.

Learn more about the Eastside miniMBA program here.