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Winning Voices: Travis Stroud, Experienced Officer Development Program at GE Appliances

Winning Voices: Travis Stroud, Experienced Officer Development Program at GE Appliances

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.

Travis Stroud
Experienced Officer Development Program
GE Appliances

Tell us a little bit about your company.

I transitioned out of the Army in May 2018, after GE Appliances hired me in their Experienced Officer Development Program. In this unique program commissioned officers have an opportunity to start their civilian careers with three 8-month rotations throughout different functions at GE Appliances.

My first rotation was working as an Area Business Leader where I was responsible for all metal fabrication for our French Door Refrigerators. My section was responsible for making the entire outer metal shell of our units. I directly supervised 25 hourly employees and was responsible for all payroll, overtime, scrap, yield, quality, and inventory management.

I am currently working as an advanced industrial engineer on projects that help to make our organization leaner. I am leading a project that will reduce our total part count for each unit and standardize attachment methods for common components that we use throughout all product lines.

What advice would you have for others in the military looking to get their MBA?

What are you waiting for? As you transition out of the military, many employers may not understand all of the qualities that a veteran can bring to the team. The life experiences and leadership qualities that we have developed in the military can get lost on a resume. But an MBA from a top-ranked program—that is understood and highly regarded by hiring managers and could be the difference between landing that dream job or being passed over for a more qualified or educated candidate.

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Did you find the MBA helped with your transition into the civilian sector?

Yes! I felt much more confident transitioning into the civilian sector because of JWMI. I knew the Army taught me leadership qualities, resiliency, and the skills to make sound decisions. However, I also recognized I knew very little about financial management, marketing, manufacturing, business analytics, and the basics of how a civilian organization was run. Every class that I took at JWMI gave me valuable insights into the skills needed to succeed in the civilian sector.

Why were you looking to get your MBA?

I decided to get my MBA to help bridge the gap as I transitioned out of the Army. I believe that when veterans combine the skills from their military career, and MBA learnings, they will be able to move up the ladder in any organization.

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Did you find the curriculum was immediately applicable?

In the Army, priorities are different. I never worried about making money or working more efficiently. It didn’t matter if my soldiers took 1 hour to complete a job or 5 hours as long as the job got done. Now, however, with a goal to increase revenue, I look for ways to grow production while finding efficiencies in production time. Beyond operationally making changes is the necessity to have the confidence to read, digest, and communicate financial statements. It is a critical function in my position, and I credit JWMI’s finance classes with my confidence to perform these responsibilities.

HOW DID YOU NAVIGATE JOB, FAMILY, AND WORK?  WHAT STRATEGIES DID YOU IMPLEMENT TO GET IT DONE?

My wife and I welcomed our first child at the end of my first term in the program. I underestimated how difficult it was to have a newborn, and I struggled at the beginning of my second term. However, I was able to quickly develop a weekly rhythm that helped me stay motivated and focused. Instead of lunch with my co-workers, I ate at my desk and read the required weekly readings. I also set aside one hour every evening to work on DQs and responses and found an extra hour in the mornings after I worked out and before I had to be at work to work on my writing assignments. While I did forgo some TV-time, I still had enough time for my full-time job and most importantly quality time with the family every evening. It is essential to have not only a schedule but also the discipline to stick to it.

PLEASE SHARE ANY ADVICE FOR NEW STUDENTS EMBARKING ON THE MBA JOURNEY.

Take advantage of the experience your professors bring to the table! All of the professors at JWMI are incredibly knowledgeable and have succeeded in their chosen field. One of the most significant benefits of the program was how accessible they were. Never having taken an online course previously, I was nervous about faculty interaction. However, that nervousness quickly faded, I spoke more frequently with JWMI professors than I ever did during my on-ground undergraduate experience. If I ever had a question about an assignment or need clarification on a topic, I knew that I could reach any of my professors via phone, text or email; if they weren’t available at that moment, I could always count on a response within a few hours. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help, you have the best professors in the business, and they all care about your personal growth!

Connect with Travis Stroud on Linkedin

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