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Darla Moore School of Business

  • Image of Eddie and Helena Kalaf with their dog on hooding day

Succeeding together

A couple enrolls in and graduates from the Moore School’s PMBA program alongside each other

Couples who study together, stay together. At least, that was the case for Eddie and Helena Kalaf, both ‘23 PMBA.

After friends told them about the Moore School PMBA program’s affordability, quality education and flexible schedule, then-engaged Eddie and Helena both decided to enroll. They ended up taking classes together, which provided them with a unique and special experience.

“We made sure not to rely solely on each other and to actively engage with other classmates as well,” Helena said. “The experience of being next to each other in the classroom added an extra layer of support and camaraderie to our educational journey, making the learning process more enjoyable and fruitful. We also had fun incorporating what we were learning into our daily lives, where we often had discussions on these topics when we saw them come up in our jobs and in the news.”

Their experience wasn’t without stress. The two juggled working full-time jobs, building a house and planning a wedding all while earning their PMBAs. This past year in particular has presented them with some difficult challenges.

“We have been struggling with infertility, multiple losses and new health issues,” Helena said. “Navigating these challenging waters while still trying our best to perform well at work and school was not easy, and it was extra important that we dedicate time to take care of ourselves and engage in our hobbies to prevent burnout, which we would recommend to all current students.”

“It's important to practice self-compassion and give yourself grace,” Eddie added. “Recognize that you are juggling multiple responsibilities and it's okay to prioritize self-care and seek support when needed. Remember, your well-being is essential for success in all areas of your life.”

Eddie is currently a senior principal workday integrations consultant at Collaborative Solutions

“In this role, I lead a portion of the team who sets up HR systems for other organizations,” he said. “One of the most surprising skills I learned from the PMBA program that has been useful in this position has been knowledge of accounting. The accounting courses in the PMBA program have helped me become fluent in accounting terminology, which has been extremely beneficial when discussing detailed business processes with our clients.”

Helena, a talent strategy program manager at Vanguard, emphasized she not only gained hard skills but also soft skills from the PMBA program.

“My current position requires a lot of strategic thinking, which was emphasized in the curriculum of the PMBA program,” she said. “I also learned ways to be an effective leader and how best to motivate, foster a positive work culture and manage conflicts or challenges on a team which I have applied to my role as a manager.”

Helena said she took a “great” class on negotiations management that stressed the importance of planning prior to engaging in a negotiation.

“I negotiate with stakeholders regularly and prepare by using the framework we learned in that class,” she added.

Helena said the knowledge and experience she gained during the PMBA program led to a promotion with Vanguard in July 2022.

“The skills I gained from the program equipped me with the confidence and capabilities to take on higher-level responsibilities,” she said.

Along with hopefully starting a family <we can delete this if you prefer>, the couple plans to continue in the corporate world and eventually start their own business in the next five years. In 10 years, they hope to expand their business and make it their full-time focus. 

-Sydney Hankinson

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