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Diane Law, MBA '97, MSA '13

Diane Law, MBA '97, MSA '13

Meet Diane Law,

MBA '97, MSA '13

From tragedy came the courage to reach for her goals.

The chaplain was the first person to meet her at the hospital. That’s rarely a good sign, Diane Law recalled recently. Law had been home alone when one of her husband’s coworkers came to her door. There had been an accident at the paper factory where they had both worked, and Mike had fallen into a machine.

By the time Law reached the hospital, Mike was gone. He was 30. She was 28. It was 1986 and they had been married for only five years. “It was one of those big industrial accidents where your husband goes to work and never comes home,” Law says. “No goodbyes. No nothing. At that point, I had no choice but to figure out things on my own.”

New options

Law, now 56, took refuge in her work. Her career in marketing took off, but by the early 1990s she felt stuck and believed that to get the executive-level jobs she craved, she needed to get her master’s in business administration (MBA). But she had no one to rely on but herself, quitting work to go back to school full-time was not an option. Law needed a program that offered flexibility. The University of Phoenix allowed her to juggle work with being in the classroom once a week and participating in learning teams.

“It was a great program because I could go to school yet work it around my travel schedule,” says Law. She fondly remembers lugging textbooks onto international flights (this was before e-readers, after all) and crossing time zones while cramming for the exam she’d have to take the next evening. The workload was intense but the payoff was worth the effort.

“It was a great program because I could go to school yet work it around my travel schedule." – Diane Law, MBA '97, MSA '13

“Employers looked at this MBA and saw not only the education part of it, but also the effort it required. They look at that in the business world as, if you’re willing to step up and put the extra effort in to earn a degree, then that’s probably someone that would be a good employee," says Law.

The effort pays off

She was right. Soon after receiving her MBA from the University of Phoenix in 1997, Law left a marketing manager position for a spot as director of marketing for Netigy Corporation in San Jose, Calif. She then swiftly rose through the ranks, gaining better and better titles at bigger and bigger companies, including Motorola and Fujitsu, before landing at what she considers her greatest career accomplishment to date: Her current position as vice president of marketing for D&K Engineering, an engineering and contract manufacturing firm in San Diego, Calif.

“Marketing services is very different than marketing a product because you’re selling people, their experience and the benefits a client will gain by taking advantage of those experts,” says Law. “It’s a very different business model.” And because of that, a more challenging one. But Law has never been one to cower in the face of adversity.

“People asked me at times, ‘My God. How did you ever get through [your husband’s death]?’ and I said, ‘You only have one decision to make: Am I going to do something with my life even though the love of my life is gone or am I going to mentally crawl in a hole and die? I chose the first one,” Law says.

Recognize opportunity

In 2013, Law received her second Masters degree from the University of Phoenix, this time an MS in accounting. The skills she learned have helped her as she manages her own department and her own personal budget. “It also helps you to understand how a business runs because the accounting department is really what runs the business,” says Law. “If you don’t have a good understanding of accounting, you’re not going to be able to be successful in business.”

Law’s home in San Diego is just minutes away from the office. When she’s not at work she keeps herself equally busy, whether it’s working as a tour guide on the weekends or traveling herself. Law has been to all seven continents–yes, Antarctica too–spent five weeks traversing Australia and is currently planning a trip to French Polynesia and Easter Island that will end with a hike to Machu Picchu. Sometimes her sister or mother join her but more often than not, she travels alone with tour groups.

“As opportunities came along I began to realize, maybe there’s a reason I’m supposed to be doing this or that. Let me see where it takes me,” says Law. “You have to recognize the opportunities you have in life and take advantage of them.”

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