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National Director Still Relies On Skills Learned in Seton Hill MBA Classes

Joseph Kralik is the National Director for Government Business at Essity, a deacon in the Catholic Church, a former firefighter, an active blogger, and a Seton Hill MBA alumnus. Recently, he grabbed a few minutes from his overbooked schedule to share some thoughts on his experience at Seton Hill.

Why did you choose Seton Hill for your MBA?

While I was having moderate success in my career, my advancement opportunities seemed to stagnate. I began searching various universities for master’s programs that could possibly lead to that sought-after promotion. The deciding factor for me choosing to attend Seton Hill can be described in one word: Family.  I have three aunts who are graduates of Seton Hill, as well as several cousins, all of whom attended Seton Hill when it was a female-only institution. Additionally, my mother, who passed away when I was 17, attended Seton Hill for two years prior to getting married and raising a family.  So, my thought was two-fold; I was earning my MBA from a well-respected university with strong Catholic values, and I was also figuratively closing the loop that my mother had begun almost 55 years earlier.

What was the journey like from the MBA Program to your current position at Essity? 

My original position with Essity was that of an account manager, selling absorbent products to the long-term care industry in Western PA and Western NY.  We had a “Business Challenge” at our national sales meeting where each account manager proposed a business plan for their region. This plan was essentially equivalent to the capstone project in the MBA program, which provided me with a distinct advantage. I was selected as the winner of my region to compete onstage against all the other regions throughout the country.  Utilizing the various analytical tools and presentation techniques that I perfected in the capstone class, I won the Business Challenge. After winning the Business Challenge, I was promoted to Key Account Manager for the long-term care government business, and then shortly after that (literally two weeks), I was also given the responsibility for the home care government business. Now, as the National Director for Government Business, I oversee our government business in all three channels: acute, long-term care and home care.

"As I work with our regulatory and legal departments for various state and federal agencies, work on incentive agreements with the Department of Defense, and help our account managers navigate VA contracts and Medicaid formularies, I am supported by almost every class that I had at Seton Hill."

Do you use things you learned at Seton Hill in your current job?

Absolutely! I utilize virtually every aspect of what I learned in the MBA Program every day. As I work with our regulatory and legal departments for various state and federal agencies, work on incentive agreements with the Department of Defense, and help our account managers navigate VA contracts and Medicaid formularies, I am supported by almost every class that I had at Seton Hill.  In addition, the financial background provided through the MBA Program allows me to understand, evaluate and seek appropriate answers and corrections to the financial reports that I am required to review and report on quarterly to the North America leadership team.

You obviously put a high value on helping others, which certainly fits with the mission of the Sisters of Charity. How do you balance your work as a deacon, for example, with the demands of a career, family, etc.? 

The demands of a deacon can be compared to the demands of the MBA program. And the demands of the MBA program prepared me for the deacon formation program and the demands that come with ordination. To be able to juggle your ministry of service, along with preparing to preach almost every weekend, conducting several adult educational series a year, presiding at funerals and baptisms, coupled with work, family, and everything that goes along with living in the secular world, it does take Grace from God to enable me to get everything done.

Do you have anything you’d like to share about your MBA Program experience with people who may be considering it for themselves?

If I had to do it all over again, I would choose Seton Hill University and its MBA program. Dr. Nelson, who is director of the MBA Program, is an outstanding instructor and resource. In fact, all the instructors that I had at Seton Hill were not only outstanding instructors but incredible people who genuinely care about their students. It is a family, plain and simple.