EMBA Profile: A Business Dream Turns Into Reality

A profile of Penn State Smeal Executive MBA Program alumnus Stephen Rigo, who attributed building his dream business to the Smeal EMBA Program.

Alumnus Stephen Rigo ’07 tailored his Penn State Smeal College of Business Executive MBA Program experience to help him build the business he’d been dreaming of for years.

Rigo graduated in 1992 from Penn State’s Health Policy Administration program and began working as a consultant in health care administration, helping health care providers run more efficiently and increase revenue. After more than 15 years, he wanted to see if he could make his business idea a reality.

Sold After A Visit

“I always wanted to start a business, but I’m very cautious,” said Rigo. “I wanted to make sure I had the right skill sets going in. So I started talking to Dennis Sheehan [the Virginia and Louis Benzak Professor of Finance and then-faculty director of the EMBA Program] about how the EMBA Program could help me build my strengths in finance and marketing.”

After a class visit, Rigo was sure that the Smeal EMBA Program was the place for him to grow the skills he needed to get his business off the ground.

“When I went in for a site visit, it blew my mind,” he said. “There was a lot going on in the classroom, and the students were all accomplished businesspeople. To top it off, they weren’t just listening and taking notes—they were engaged and participating.”

Throughout the EMBA process, Rigo was able to tweak certain assignments to help him develop his business plan, which also allowed for feedback from not only the faculty but the other students in his cohort.

“I was able to take everything I learned and build the business,” said Rigo. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the professors and the Penn State alumni network.”

A Priceless Experience

Rigo launched his business, Augusta Healthcare, Inc., in 2011. The company aims to work with hospitals to give them a better perspective of their costs and help them make better decisions regarding patient charge practices. Though the company currently offers only a service, the next step for Rigo is to develop a cloud-based software product for health care providers to use.

“I have a continuing relationship with many of the professors as well as the students in my class,” he said. “I’m still using the network for connections in my business. You can’t put a price on the value of that continuing, close-knit network; it’s a huge advantage.”

Posted August 2013