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Vanderbilt, '80

Current position:
Chairman and CEO, Saks, Inc.
The company: Saks hit $6.2 billion in sales in 2003 and posted a 241-percent jump in net income, driven in part by booming growth at its signature Saks Fifth Avenue stores.
Why the MBA? "My undergraduate degree was in political science, and once I embarked on a business career, I thought it was important to have some specific business training."
It's all about the numbers: "In addition to technical skills such as finance and accounting, I expanded my understanding of eco­nomics and marketing."
What about the more esoteric, touchy-feely stuff? "They helped me develop a more rigorous and disciplined analytical thought process."
Bottom-line recommendation for prospective MBAs: "I consider an MBA one of many sources of continued learning and education, and it can definitely be helpful in one's personal and career growth."

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Harvard, '90

Current position:
Division vice president, ADP
The company: $467 million Miami-based division of the $7.4 billion outsourcing giant Automatic Data Processing. ADP TotalSource provides payroll, human resource, and regulatory compliance services to small- and mid-size businesses. The company achieved a year-over-year growth of 28 percent within the division.
Does MBA stand for mastering business advancement? Mitjans pursued her MBA in part to help her move beyond the manufacturing industry, where she'd spent her entire career. After graduation, she went to work for Bankers Trust Co., which later became Deutsche Bank AG, and then joined ADP TotalSource. Those companies, you may note, are not manufacturers.