When Susan Beatty started her first job at Piper Jaffray, she knew there was something she was missing.

“You’re working with a lot of really strong financial brains and I did not have one of those,” Beatty said.

A colleague of hers was taking classes at St. Thomas – just down the street from the office. “She was talking about the [MBC] program at St. Thomas and how it was helping her business acumen [and] her business education, so I thought it would be a good thing to explore,” Beatty said, who started taking a couple classes “just to see what it was all about” and ended up staying four years total to finish her degree, in 2005.

For Beatty, the atmosphere was ideal. “The ability to be able to work downtown and go to school at night was super convenient, and the people that you met there were great because they were all working professionals and we all learned from each other.”

Beatty said she gravitated toward the program because of the business and communications aspect of the degree. For her, accounting class was a challenge. “I’m not a numbers person, but it really stretches your brain … All of us sort of struggled with it because it was a little bit outside of our element,” she said.

Another memorable challenge was the program’s capstone project. “Lots of hours, lots of research, lots of interviews” and, at the end, “presenting it to classmates and other professors and really having to sell your research – that was a huge piece.”

During her time in the MBC program, Beatty continued working at Piper Jaffray in the aftermath of the dot-com bust. She was responsible for media relations work, aligning the company’s stock research analysts with news outlets like CNBC, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, as well as local media. She recalls getting to work as early as 5:30 a.m. for stock market openings, working, and then going to class from 6 to 9 p.m.

“It was very tiring … but what was so great is all the people that you met that were all in the same situation,” Beatty said. Her weekends were packed with homework, her summers packed with classes, but ultimately, she’s glad she did it.

“We’re in such a competitive environment, I think having a master’s degree is really important…I think the MBC is a unique degree,” Beatty said. “When you’re working with people who have so much knowledge you need to know enough about the business so they trust in you.”

In 2007, two years after earning her MBC, Beatty left Piper Jaffray for Bremer, where she currently serves as AVP of public relations and social media. She does external and internal communications for the company, which has about 2,000 employees in three states. A big part of her job is social media presence – managing all social channels, pulling together strategy, bringing it to executives and figuring out how to grow it further. The last part of her role involves organizing volunteer activities – one of the arenas she’s most passionate about.

“I do a lot of volunteering,” Beatty laughed. She started during her time at Piper Jaffray and has been active with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Heartland. Beatty has also been involved with the Minnesota chapter of PRSA for 12 years, serving on the board 2012-2013 and receiving her Accreditation in Public Relations (APR). Additionally, Beatty is the VP of the Corporate Volunteer Council of the Twin Cities (CVCTC), serves on the YMCA board of her current city of residence in Hudson, Wisc., and mentors several students from her alma mater, the U of M’s journalism school.

This commitment to giving back is characteristic of Beatty. “One of the things people taught me throughout my working life is to take time to meet new people all the time, no matter what level or what area of work they do…It always comes full circle,” she said.

She attributes her own success to the help of her first manager at Piper Jaffray, who promoted Beatty as an individual within the company. “It was never, ‘Look what the PR department did,’ or ‘Look what the communications team did.’ It was, ‘Look what Susan did,’… I just thought that was really a powerful thing for a manager to do,” Beatty said.

Beatty enjoys her current role and hopes to be a thought leader and consultant for wherever she is, and to make an impact – though she wouldn’t mind owning a bakery, sometime down the road. “I would have to have enough money set aside and it’d have to be the right time in my life,” she said. And on a more lighthearted note: “I have two little boys, so they would have to be old enough to work at the bakery.”

She’ll also be staying connected to St. Thomas. She’s gotten to know Mike Porter, the director of the MBC program, a little better through their mutual involvement in PRSA, and she’s had a chance to speak on alumni panels and meet students. “I love staying connected to the university and, again, it’s all about giving back,” Beatty said. “Every generation has different elements of ‘What’s next?’ and I think we all need to learn from each other.”