Santa Clara University

Jennifer Ernst

Executive MBA 2005: Director of Business Development PARC, A Xerox Company

Jennifer Ernst knew when she started the Executive MBA program at Santa Clara that having the degree would give her more career options, but it was even clearer when she graduated with honors in 2005.

“A decision to get an MBA, especially an executive MBA with its accelerated program, is a strong declaration you’re serious about business,” she recalled during an interview at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), where she has been director of business development for the Xerox-owned company since 2006.

Her job includes leading business-to-business sales in the United States and Europe, expanding PARC business in Asia, and responsibility for all phases of business development, resulting in multiple $1 million-plus deals with companies throughout the world.

Ernst, who has an undergraduate degree in radio and television from San Francisco State University, spent her early career in communications. She’d started as a project manager in the creative services group at PARC, working up to communications manager from 1998 through 2006.

“Before I got to SCU, I had been doing marketing,” said Ernst. “I didn’t know what else was out there so I really didn’t know what I’d be good at. The MBA program helped expose me to a lot of varied opportunities.”

Continuing to work fulltime through the SCU program made her classroom work more relevant because she could immediately apply what she learned, as well as benefit from the experience of her classmates.

 “When I interviewed people from SCU, I found a sense of groundedness, of no arrogance,” she said. “Within the EMBA cohort, we had diverse people. Our skills complemented each other. I brought an understanding of research innovation and functional experience from marketing and communications. Others helped me learn leadership, finance, and handling change.”

Ernst said she probably would not have been considered for her current job if she hadn’t had the MBA.

“I had a richer tool set having done the EMBA,” she said. “I went from being a communications person, to being a business person with a communications background. I went from reporting the news to making it.”