Kristen’s graduation day in May 2020 was postponed and changed to a virtual commencement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was disappointing, however, the actual date of graduation day did not define Kristen’s two-and-a-half-year journey to receive her Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Growing more than lawns and gardens
Kristen wasn’t thinking about pursuing a graduate degree when she began working at SMG in January 2017. She was hired as a human resources specialist and was excited to see where the opportunity would lead her. She learned a great deal about our company in her first year, and the knowledge she gained wasn’t just about our products. She found out that our company was committed to developing its associates and growing their careers.
A coworker was enrolled in an MBA program and was benefiting from our company’s Tuition Assistance Program, which provides tuition assistance to our North American full-time associates. She told Kristen about the classes she was taking and encouraged her to think about furthering her education.
A scholar for life?
“When I finished my undergrad, if you would have asked me if I would ever be going back to school, I would have said, ‘Heck no!’” says Kristen.
The primary reason she wasn’t considering going back to school is due to the tuition costs. She didn’t want to take on the financial burden of college again. She was interested, however, in advancing her career and overall personal development. The more that she learned about the MBA program the more she realized that it would help her develop a holistic view of the business and think beyond human resources.
“I wanted to be a better asset to the company,” Kristen says. “I used to be in meetings with other people from finance, accounting and sales strategy, and I wouldn’t always understand what they were talking about from a business perspective. That’s why this made sense for me to do. And it could help me become a better people leader.”
Take the journey with an open mind
Kristen is open-minded and is ready for challenges and new opportunities. Her journey with the company has taken her from our world headquarters in Marysville, Ohio, to our subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening Company in Vancouver, Washington, for a year-long temporary assignment. Thankfully, her MBA program offered online classes even though Eastern Standard Time deadlines proved to be challenging on the west coast.
In addition, Kristen’s career has grown. She was promoted to a Senior HR Representative position in 2018, and she received another promotion to Human Resources Manager at the beginning of 2020. She credits her success to the support of her managers and to the company.
“I wouldn’t have gone back to school if it wasn’t for the Tuition Assistance Program,” Kristen says. “It’s a major opportunity, and it shows how much the company is willing to invest in my success.”
The road ahead
Even without the formal ceremony, Kristen received her MBA as well as her cap and gown, which signified the completion of this part of her journey.
Looking ahead, she says, “I’m open and looking forward to whatever comes my way. What we don’t expect is usually the best part of the journey.”