Unpredictable. Opportunistic. Invigorating. All of these words describe the future, according to Valerie Kading ’19 MBA.
As a first year student studying psychology at the University of Arizona, she never imagined that years later she would hold five degrees—including a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), a Master’s in Nursing and an MBA—and lead two top-notch health organizations in California: Sierra by the Sea and Sunrise Ranch.
Kading started off her healthcare career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner in medical operations while also working as part of a clinician team, treating patients who struggled with mental health and substance abuse. After some time, a new wave of nurse practitioners began filtering into the industry—those with a DNP.
Kading refused to be left behind in her profession and made a decision to attend New Mexico State University for her DNP. She explains: “This wasn’t a decision I embraced in the moment. In reality, I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I’m going back to school’.”
Though it was not a path she originally planned on taking, she says it ended up being one of the best decisions she’s ever made. After receiving her doctorate, she felt a hunger to learn more and eventually enrolled in the Eller MBA program.
However, her initial MBA learning experience was not entirely seamless. Soon after being admitted into the program, she was promoted to chief medical officer of her organization and her work priorities grew as did her obligations in school. Determined, she continued to balance her studies, work assignments and personal life, finding, eventually, that the hard work would pay off.
“Initially, my goal when I went into the MBA program was just to gain knowledge in business, finance, accounting and economics,” she says. “Little did I know that having this degree would help in getting me to that next level in my career.”
Immediately after she graduated from the MBA program, she was promoted to her current position as CEO of Sierra by the Sea and Sunrise Ranch. She felt acutely prepared for this change at work. Kading is in an occupation she loves—one where she can be creative, where she can work with high performers and in which she has the opportunity to make a difference in patients’ lives. In this role she strives to provide the best clinical care to her clients while mentoring new professional leaders in the healthcare industry.
“My experience in the MBA program at Eller gave me the confidence and insight to say that I have the capacity to grow even further than what I originally thought possible,” she says.
Even after all this, her educational experience is just beginning. “Learning never stops, it’s a lifelong process,” she says. “Everything I’ve done has expanded my capacity to help other people, and has helped me play a bigger, more positive role in the world.”