Adult Learning and Leadership Program at K-State Olathe Helps Alum Advance Career
February 24, 2022
Jana Meyers has a talent for identifying potential in every individual and a passion for growing leaders and growing as a leader herself. This desire to continually improve and help others improve explains why she enrolled in the Adult Learning and Leadership master’s degree program at K-State Olathe, even though she already had one master’s degree and significant training and leadership experience.
At American Century Investments, Meyers received several promotions in just over three years. As a director, her diverse responsibilities included call-center training for a 125-person team, providing enterprise-wide training support and working with consultants and retail sales department personnel. She was well positioned for a long and successful career in the financial planning industry.
However, with a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA with a concentration in finance, Meyers recognized she lacked “formal” training in adult learning.
“In the beginning, I saw the K-State Olathe program as a way to gain credibility in my field with my peers, as well as an opportunity to become a stronger leader. However, I wasn’t quite certain I wanted to pursue another master’s degree,” Meyers said. “The first night of class, I knew I made the right decision to come back to school and was in the right place. I got an enormous amount of value from the program. It took my understanding of corporate learning programs to a whole new level.”
New Career Opportunities and a Promotion
This new understanding led to additional career opportunities in corporate training and leadership. In late 2016, after 16 years at American Century Investments and about halfway through the master’s program, Meyers made the tough decision to leave her leadership role in financial services and step into an individual contributor role at a new company.
“I had a passion for applying my learnings from the graduate classes to work in a large organization, so I accepted a position as a learning and development project manager at H&R Block,” she said. “Shortly after taking the Program Planning course at KSU, I was asked to run a national program for first-year tax professionals at the company. I could not have done that project nearly as well without the knowledge I received from that course and my other classes.”
Her contributions were acknowledged with a promotion to senior training developer for field leadership development.
Success developing and running the national project and later helping roll out a new learning management system soon catapulted Meyers out of that individual contributor role and back into a leadership role. In just over 18 months – and within six months of completing her master’s degree – she was promoted to manager for field leadership development. In this new position, Meyers and her team support H&R Block field leaders across the United States and Puerto Rico.
“We train all first-year district general managers and support regional directors and office managers,” she said. “In all, we touch more than 400 leaders per year.”
Skills, Knowledge and Opportunities that Contribute to Career Success
Meyers believes knowledge gained through the Adult Learning and Leadership program contributed to her career success.
“I have had the good fortune to rise quickly in different roles, and the K-State program helped me with that. I also earned the Leadership Dynamics Certificate, which is a great complement to the program,” Meyers said. “Knowing more about team, interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics helps me be a better leader and helps our organization tailor leadership training to the needs of our field and corporate leaders. I use leadership skills from the program daily.”
Although Meyers’s initial motivation for pursuing a second master’s degree was to gain credibility with her peers, she gained more than that.
“I felt like I was part of a community at K-State Olathe,” Meyers said. “In fact, it was really the first college experience I’ve had where the instructors not only knew my name but knew me personally. The instructors and curriculum were top notch and the staff was incredibly supportive.”
Meyers also appreciated the opportunity to meet and network with a wide variety of professionals during the program.
“The unique thing about the Adult Learning and Leadership program was my classmates were from all walks of life. It was great to have perspectives from multiple disciplines like military, health care, government agencies, other postsecondary institutions, corporations, nonprofits and others. I feel lucky to have had such a great experience overall,” Meyers said.
K-State Olathe began offering the M.S. in Adult Learning and Leadership in 2013. Since then, 50 graduates have earned their degrees. The degree is supported through funding from the Johnson County Education Research Triangle.