Each week, JWMI profiles students and alumni in its new featured series “Winning Voices.” Learn about our diverse community and what sets our program apart from those who have experienced it. For more great “Winning Voices” content, click here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
While I was earning my MBA, I served as an Infantry Officer in the Army. I held a few different positions, but I was a Platoon Leader first, where I led 40 Infantry Soldiers in Hawaii, managing almost every aspect of their well-being and training. After just one year in the program I was promoted to an Executive Officer of an Infantry Company, and there I ran the behind the scenes of a 160-person company.
Why did you want to get an MBA?
I didn’t overthink my decision to get an MBA. I knew I wanted to continue my education, I knew I didn’t want to stay in the military for the rest of my life, and I knew that I had a passion for business and it could offer an enriching career and life—so I went for the MBA!
What advice would you have for others in the military looking to get their MBA?
For anyone in the military, whether you’re an O-1 or an O-5, I think getting your MBA is an incredibly smart and rewarding decision. Numerous parallels exist between leading in business and the military. Not only do we have a lot to share as military officers, but there is a great deal to learn that we can bring back into our careers. One of the first things I learned at JWMI was about Jack Welch’s 8 Rules of Leadership, and that’s something I strived to apply in my career every day.
A typical path for military personnel includes getting an MBA. I found the online MBA program incredibly worthwhile as compared to a standard brick and mortar business school.
- First, you don’t have to put your career trajectory on hold. If you time it right you can finish your MBA before or right as you exit the military. Then your resume not only has excellent military history but a valuable degree as well; this makes you very attractive to potential employers.
- Second, you’re able to apply what you learn while still in the military. One of JWMI’s principles is “learn it on Monday, apply it on Tuesday,” it’s great to see the application of the curriculum in the real world. Even if a part of the curriculum may not seem immidately applicable, like finance, it’s a good foundation regardless. And, the leadership and operations management lessons are just fantastic.
- Third, JWMI is military-friendly. I had numerous professors and classmates who were former or current military, and they were great mentors to have on my education journey.
Earning your MBA while serving isn’t easy, there are times I wanted to quit, but looking back I consider it one of the most valuable decisions I ever made; it helped me in the military and even more as I work in the corporate world.
How has the JWMI curriculum helped you in your career?
I differed from the “typical” MBA student in that I was at the start of my career when I began classes. Fortunately, because I was a military officer, I was facing a lot of the same challenges that my classmates leading in the business world did, so I was able to contribute right from the start! Attributing professional growth to JWMI is easy, the leadership, communication, change management, and vision creation skills we learned in JWMI were all directly applicable even as a junior military officer. I often felt as though I had a stronger grasp on some of my company’s strategic goals, visions, and implementation plans than those creating them did, simply because I was learning techniques that actually worked from the “CEO of the Century.” As I leave the military and move forward with a civilian career, I’m excited to utilize more of the JWMI MBA material. Whether it’s using the degree to get my foot in the door with a top tier company, or putting the knowledge to use as I work on a project with a team, I have no doubt that the investment in a JWMI MBA will pay off exponentially in my future.
What’s been your most rewarding experience in the program?
Aside from actually graduating, which I view as quite rewarding, I think some of the best experiences from JWMI came from interactions with other classmates. There were times in our discussion posts when we would just go back and forth with peers on a statement or theory, and then the professor would just pop in and comment with a thoughtful viewpoint that would encourage even more dialogue. Learning from my peers was amazing—I started the MBA when I was 24, and a lot of my classmates were in their 30’s and 40’s with hugely successful careers already… it was great hearing what they had to say about my posts. I have loved my JWMI education, the classmates, professors, and conversations with Jack himself—it has all been amazing.
What strategies did you implement to manage job, family, life and an MBA?
Thankfully I only had to navigate work and my studies, although I do count my military brethren as my family. At times, this was incredibly challenging for me. Working a 14 hour day, five days a week, and giving up many weekends to military activities as well made coming home to study a challenge at times. I knew this was something that would pay off in the end, so I just buckled down and did it. But it was hard to pass up on just kicking up my feet and relaxing after work like some of my peers. I had to take several pauses in my education to account for hectic times at work, but I forced myself to never take more than one quarter off in a row. I found a couple of techniques that helped me consistently submit quality assignments done on time. While I did take two classes per quarter so that I could graduate when I exited the Army, one class per quarter is more manageable. The coursework is very consistent with when assignments are due, so developing a routine early helped to ensure I never got backlogged when I took two courses at once. And saving all my readings/textbooks to my Google Drive account was great because it enabled me to do some reading if I had a free moment while on the go. I think my favorite strategy I had for ensuring I got all my work in on time was my own personal “hyperdrive” formula: it consisted of coffee, energy drinks, and Milky Way bars, and the caffeine and sugar were enough to help me focus, research, and write reports like a champion. But I’m sure that took a toll on my health…
What advice can you share with new students embarking on the Jack Welch MBA journey?
- Take advantage of everything JWMI offers! If I had one regret from my MBA program it’s that I didn’t participate in enough of the live video conferences; being across the world made it difficult to be live, but the few I did participate in were great.
- Learn from your fellow students just as much as your professors. They have unique viewpoints and insights that can really help you. Utilize your professors. Each of the professors I had at JWMI was 100% committed to my education. Answering emails almost instantly, talking to you on the phone about a difficult concept or project, or working with you to accommodate a demanding schedule. For an online program, I had more commitment from every single JWMI professor than I did from any other educator in my career. That’s a huge testament to the professors and Jack himself to create something this amazing.
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