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How Chief Strategy Officer Heather Staples Lavoie Uses Her SNHU MBA

Heather Staples Lavoie ‘96MBA conducting a meeting with collugues

In the early 90s, Heather Staples Lavoie '96MBA was immersed in the healthcare industry. With an undergraduate degree in education, she knew there was more to learn if she was to move forward in her career and began looking into graduate programs.

"I was interested in advancing in business and was seeking an aggressive program that would enable me to maintain my position and secure a degree in two years or less," said Lavoie. Southern New Hampshire University fit the bill, and then some.

"Once I was enrolled, frankly, I was blown away by my professors, not only for their credentials, but also their passion and accessibility," she said. The professors inspired and engaged her in ways Lavoie hadn't anticipated. "The material truly came alive, and I was hooked on business from that point forward."

From early roles as a project director within the healthcare industry to more current positions with Geneia, as the chief operating officer and at present, chief strategy officer, her MBA education has proved beneficial throughout.

"The value is immeasurable," said Lavoie. "Understanding the fundamentals of the market, being trained in quantitative analysis, securing a comprehensive understanding of strategic planning and management, learning about forecasting, operations management, business law - this background has aided me in every role I have held, and allowed me to take on the work of building and leading businesses."

Without her MBA credentials, Lavoie said she would not have been afforded the opportunities she has had - nor would she have been prepared to do the work of business planning and execution were it not for the skills she developed and practiced during the graduate program.

"Whereas my undergraduate degree was in education, all of the concepts I mentioned would have been completely foreign to me," she said. "The MBA credentials demonstrate to others a degree of competency in business fundamentals, and significantly shorten any on-the-job learning curve that would otherwise be required."

Healthcare was not the major focus in the 90s that it is in today's economy. Given that Lavoie had already been working in this field for seven years during her MBA program, she said, "I actually benefited from an evaluation of other industries - their strategies, economic forces, technology implementations and competitive threats. The multidisciplinary nature of the program actually made me more well-rounded and allowed me to bring new thinking to healthcare, applying more modern techniques and points of view to an industry that has been woefully slow to adapt."

For Lavoie, there hasn't been a single MBA course that she hasn't put to use. "To aid me in my current role...I use strategic planning, quantitative analysis, accounting, finance, operations and distribution, organizational development, business law and more on a daily basis in designing, establishing, distributing and managing new products and markets," she said.

As to what being an SNHU graduate means to her, Lavoie said, "I am proud of my SNHU MBA program - and ironically, both my CEO and his CEO are [SNHU] graduates as well. Given our roles and the successes we have had across our respective careers, I would say that it is a very wise investment."

Pamme Boutselis is a writer and content director in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb or connect on LinkedIn.

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