While Rachael Land earns her MBA at UTC and works part-time at Unum, she saves money by living at her family’s home in Dalton, Georgia.
“I don’t, but she does,” says her dad, John Land.
“Oh, I’m sorry, no jokes,” he immediately adds, looking at her as she gives him that kind of look.
Apparently the two made a deal — no Dad jokes allowed on this particular day.
It’s a safe bet there also will be no Dad jokes allowed when the two are in class together this semester, taking Economics for Managers. Both are aiming for an MBA; both started the program in fall 2017.
For her, it’s a path to a possible career in marketing research; for him, it’s a chance to improve his business knowledge and use it in his medical practice as a podiatric surgeon in Dalton.
With many of their courses online, they’ve only been in the same classroom once so far. It went OK.
“We didn’t actually walk in together,” he says. “I walked in and see a lot of young faces that were my daughter’s age. I, by far, stood out as I sat down. We were sitting close to each other; I was fine.”
“I didn’t disown him,” she says with a laugh.
While there was a touch of apprehension on her part, it didn’t last long.
“Initially I was hesitant to say, ‘Oh, you know that guy that sits next to me in class? That’s my Dad’,” she says. “But most people have been super-receptive to it; they’re really interested, including the professors. They say, ‘I’ve never had father/daughter duo.’
“Now that I’ve gotten over that hesitation, I’m more willing to say, ‘Oh yeah, my Dad and I study together.’”
After graduating from Auburn University in December 2016 with a degree in marketing, she spent a few months working in her father’s medical practice, thinking about her future.
“I was just trying to figure out if I wanted to go back to school to get my MBA,” she says. “I was still searching for jobs in the marketing field, but they were primarily sales-based and I purposely didn’t take any sales classes at Auburn because that wasn’t up my alley.”
Her final undergraduate semester, she took a marketing research course and enjoyed it, but wasn’t sure that was the right path. Finally, she decided to enroll in the MBA program to “further my education and get more experience and figure out whether marketing research is what I really wanted to do.”
On John’s side, his best friend—a vascular surgeon—had been nudging him toward an MBA for about a decade, he says. “I kept saying , ‘You’re right,’ and the next year would come and he would say ‘You need to get your MBA’ and I’d say, ‘You’re right.’”
And so on and so forth.
But when Rachael graduated from college, the idea of an MBA began to truly take root.
“I started teasing her about, ‘You know, Rach, wherever you decide to go, I might just apply as well.’”
He has never taken any business courses in his life and it’s “cool,” she says, that now she can help him with schoolwork just like he did for her in the past.
“When I was younger, I was really bad at math and science, and those are his forte, so he would always help me,” Rachael recalls. “Now that he’s getting into business and starting to struggle, I’m getting to actually teach him a little bit and I think kind of that’s cool.”
Their individual schedules make it hard for them to actually sit down and study together, they say, but they do share notes and, during the one class they had together, they’d call each other with questions about a particular lesson or specific material.
“If I picked up on something in lecture that he didn’t pick up on, and vice versa, it was easy to go to him and say, ‘Hey, do you remember him talking about this subject or this topic?’” Rachael says.
Although John has only been in the MBA program for a year, he says he’s already seen differences in the way he approaches his medical practice. He better understands the financial reports and spreadsheets he receives from his accountant and investment manager, he says, although he has zero intention of letting either one of them go.
But he also believes he’s becoming a better boss.
“I’m learning to be a better manager and being a better listener,” he says. “In the operating room I’m not a very good listener. I tell people what to do and they do it. In my office, I listen to patients; I don’t always listen to my employees, but I have actually started kind of sitting down one-on-one, listening to them, hearing what they have to say.”