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Student Spotlight

Tiffany Blake

Tiffany Blake

An MBA student’s take on equality in the workplace, and why she went back to school

February 28, 2016

Tiffany Blake is climbing the ladder in the business world already – and will soon be getting a boost up that ladder with an MBA in her hand.

As the education administration coordinator at Mayo Clinic, she travels around the country to assist with the planning and implementation of medical conferences, all while furthering her career as a student in West Virginia University’s Online Hybrid MBA program.

Blake received her undergraduate degree in health administration from the University of North Florida. Her background includes working for Swisher International, Inc., and volunteering with organizations such as American Diabetes Association and Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

Originally from Fayetteville, West Virginia, Blake currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida, and being enrolled in the online MBA program allows her to enjoy the flexibility of studying with WVU professors from a distance.

“When reviewing program options, I found there were several great schools out there, but my ‘aha’ moment was when I spoke with the program staff over the phone and heard their excitement and passion – which made me want to join the class,” Blake said. “I feel very confident that this is the right program for me.

“In today’s fast-paced society and ever-changing economy, the ability to move fluidly career-wise is a tremendous opportunity. My MBA will be a great asset if I later decide to pursue other options than what I’m working on right now.”

While she expected to learn core business skills such as budgeting, statistics and economics, Blake said she’s also learned a great deal about effective team work, time management and public speaking, just from working in teams and throughout her day-to-day course workload in the online MBA program.

Her ultimate goal is to become a successful entrepreneur, which requires strong, well-rounded business skills, and she challenged herself to gain finance and leadership skills to keep up with today’s fast-paced society.

Blake considers Eugene Richie her career mentor, her preceptor while completing her required internship to graduate with her bachelor’s degree, because he was someone that didn’t necessarily give her the answers to all of her questions.

“I liked that instead of providing an immediate resolution for me, he would ask me questions to help me find the solutions within. It not only made me think more in depth about the question-at-hand, but also gave me more confidence in my decision-making abilities,” she said. “Mr. Richie understood that mentoring doesn’t only relate to the office procedures, but also personal interactions in business. I can say that he helped me grow tremendously, and is now a dear friend to me.”

When it comes to great advice that Blake has taken through her career, she said her first female mentor said something to her that really struck a chord.

“She told me that you don’t have to act like a man to succeed in the workplace. Although this may seem obvious, it’s very easy to forget and start reflecting the male leadership around you,” Blake said. “Women and men are different in a lot of ways, and it’s important to find your natural strengths and weaknesses. We sometimes forget that most things – from the majority of books on leadership, down to the dosage on medications – are typically tailored from a male perspective.”

Her hopes for the future, as far as women’s equality in the workplace, include equality in the sense of maternity and paternity leave.

“In my career, I have observed several instances where a male employee has wanted the option of a longer paternity leave,” she said. “In some households, the better choice has been for the father to stay home with the new baby, as opposed to the standard female maternity leave policy. For example, if a female is completing her medical fellowship, the longer she is out on maternity leave, the longer she has to extend her program. In this instance, the father could have stayed home and cared for the baby, so that the mother could finish her program without an extension. In each case I’ve observed, the additional paternal leave has been denied.”

Someone that inspires Blake in her day-to-day life is her aunt, Denise Light, the vice president for Fayette County National Bank. Blake has watched her excel in her career over the years, all while maintaining the kindness and grace that she is known for amid Blake and the rest of her family.

“She seeks to create the best life for herself and her family, while still being humble and helping others. In this regard, I strive to be just like her, and that’s why I’m very much inspired by her.”

Blake’s father passed away in 2013, a man she describes as “the biggest WVU fan and an excellent businessman.” She says that her motivation to succeed in her academic studies comes from her relationship with him.

“With only his high school diploma, he began with very little – but understood the importance of building community relationships and finding mentors. He learned through experience and, in the end, was very successful and well-known within his community.

“I often think about how proud he would be if he knew that I was going to graduate from WVU with my MBA. I hope one day to be as successful as he was, not defining success in terms of status or finances, but by my relationships with anyone I come in contact with.”