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Pepperdine | Graziadio Business School

About Wally Kuhns


Hi, my name is Wally Kuhns. I was in the delta prime class that graduated in 2003. I’m currently the vice president of human resources at Dexcom. 

My life was evolving coming into the program. I was in my mid 30s, had just gotten married, just had a pretty serious surgery, and a lot of things were unfolding. I was at a crossroads, trying to figure out what next. Along comes MSOD. I'd looked at a couple different executive MBA programs, mostly based in Southern California, and that's when I came across, in the margin of a web search, Pepperdine MSOD. I went to Culver City, spoke with some of the faculty, really some of them straddle both programs, MBA and MSOD. It was a no-brainer. I was going to go to MSOD. After that day, clear mind, had to do it.

So for me, how did the program change trajectory? I'd say threefold. The first thing was self awareness. It really refined my outlook of myself, and that's part of the program. It's one of the mantras, self as instrument. I really took that to heart. The second thing is actually business outlook. It changed my perception of organizational dynamics, interpersonal dynamics at a grand level, at a team level, at an individual level. So huge benefit. And then the third, and it was kind of tied to those two things, would be really career. What next? So I would actually say the confidence I got from the program set me up to advance in my career of human resources, which I did, and then ultimately, about four years ago, it was time for chapter two and to me, that meant stepping out and going external as a consultant. So that's my answer.

My legacy is an amalgamation of things I've seen through the program and things I've experienced even since the program and in life. One of the things that I practice is sharing freely and stealing shamelessly. Now, albeit do it ethically, but I really like to share what I have to work with and hope for that reciprocity from those around me, and honestly, Pepperdine is probably one of the best petri dishes you could encounter with that kind of a mindset, because our community really does freely share not only work assignments and contacts, communities and networks, but best practices and tools, and even thoughts that are half-baked. So for me, it was, again, the right community to fall in with at the right time of my life, of my career, and that would be my legacy, is that I've fallen into that same school.

It's building on the last 10 years, or maybe even more. I imagine signing on to the program, Pepperdine's MSOD program, without having ever worked outside the United States. Graduating, you now have three assignments that you've, in my case, China, Canada, Mexico. And now 15 plus years later, I've worked in almost 20 countries. So my next 10 years, if I just project out, I want to double that. I want to work even more, so to be globally relevant, which MSOD is, and now I am, that's definitely something that I would expect to leverage and improve on going forward. Keep doing what I'm doing. Pepperdine really unleashed the beast. I felt like behind that program, they opened up a door that I was naively excited about, but it really expanded everything for me.

So within the next 10 years, what I'd like my legacy to encompass is continued global relevance, continued global experience.

So final thoughts on the program to me would be to tell anybody who's thinking about it the time is now. Don't even second guess it. If you've stumbled across the syllabus, alumni, professors, or even industry recognition, then you've encountered it for the right reasons, and the longer a line that we call our alumni network is rich in so many ways that the books might not even convey. The network, the community, that we have and work to maintain, is probably the secret sauce for me. So tapping into that network, which, again, wasn't even revealed when I looked at the program, paid it back in spades. So that would be one thing that I would make sure a prospective candidate understands and expects going into it, and then don't even think twice. Move forward. The answer is yes.