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.
CEO/Owner, U.S. Army Veteran
International Transportation Systems, LLCs
Why were you looking to get an MBA?
I had aspirations for many years to earn an MBA. For numerous reasons, I was not able to do so until far later than I would have preferred. The knowledge and skills learned would have added significantly to my career growth. As one of the oldest students in the class (67 years), I can honestly vouch for a trite cliché by saying that one never stops learning. One should start every day by learning something new. The methods to which JWMI exposed me to grow my leadership and management capabilities will continue to add value to my professional career. Over the years, I joked with my MBA friends that they speak a different language, but one day I would also be able to speak their business vernacular. That day has arrived.
What’s been your most rewarding experience in the program?
The most significant product I acquired in the last 23 months during my MBA was the ability to critique my performance as a leader earlier in my career. In numerous different ways, I have been able to assess how I approached resolving issues and thought about ways I could have done things differently during my career. Would I have changed anything? Absolutely. Having the ability to learn from mistakes and successes is a unique ability. The JWMI program has given me the skills to do so and subsequently use those learnings and techniques as I go forward.
How did you navigate job, family, and work? What strategies did you implement to get it done?
The best strategy I can suggest is to have a plan of attack for each week and stick to it as best you can.
My typical schedule:
Sunday: Review next week’s assignments
Monday: Review the Experts of Practice (EOP) content and various readings (book chapters, lectures, reference material, etc.)
Tuesday: Draft the weekly discussion questions (DQ)
Wednesday: Submit by mid-day the DQ
Friday: Submit my weekly learning journals
For those not familiar, discussion questions are a weekly requirement that allows for one-on-one interaction with professors and other students about the required reading, lecture notes or case studies.
When it came to written assignments, the most productive way (for me) to approach them was complete the outlines by Thursday of each week, complete a draft by Saturday, and put together the final report by Sunday. I seldom submitted my final report until Sunday night which allowed me time to come back to it and make any revisions before midnight.
There were some semesters in which taking two courses made sense and some that did not. Spend time discussing these issues with your academic advisors. They understand what you are experiencing. And, USE Grammarly, an AI-powered online tool that detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing. It will help you to turn good papers into great papers. Another bit of advice is to use reference material other than what the professors supply in the course curriculum. One of my favorite approaches was to try and find an article that countered the viewpoint of the reference material we had each week. It did not always change my perspective, but it made me think.
Looking back at what you thought about an online program when you first embarked, what was your overall impression now? Did it meet your expectations, via DQ boards, EOP videos, Jack calls, Faculty, etc.?
Previously, I took an online course for Lean Six-Sigma. However, I was not impressed with the curriculum nor the approach. It was too easy, and access to professors was limited. When I considered doing an online MBA program, I was reluctant. However, the JWMI program proved to be much different.
The most valuable aspect of the JWMI program is the connectivity to the professors and their willingness to interact personally on some issues.
In addition to that, the curriculum was top-notch. The EOP’s were contemporary and relevant. I found the experience of writing the DQs and weekly learning journals to be extremely valuable. And, I learned so much from the exchange of ideas and experiences through the online platform with my classmates.
Please share any advice for new students embarking on the MBA journey.
I envy and applaud those who decide to devote the time and energy in accomplishing this critical milestone early in your careers. My only regret is not doing this sooner. At the end of this journey, you will have a marvelous tool belt to reach into for an array of leadership and management situations.
There were so many useful books that I read during this program. My advice is to devour them. I would suggest new students try to obtain these books in their first semester and start reading them right away. I intend to keep these books close at hand for reference; here’s my suggested reading list:
- Winning by Jack Welch
- Leading Change by John P. Kotter
- Operations Management by Heizer, Render, and Munson
- Strategic Management by Rothaermel should be required reading for every manager in every company
What did it mean to be able to walk at graduation finally? Can you share more about your feelings that day?
JWMI holds one large graduation per year in Washington, DC. But I selected instead to walk at the Strayer University graduation ceremony in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. I had the honor of carrying the banner for my MBA class. I completed my undergraduate degree at a military academy at which we wore dress uniforms. Wearing a cap and gown for this one was a unique experience. I was able to wear a veteran’s cord, the JWMI cord, and the Honors Ribbon. Even at my age, it was tough to avoid feeling proud of the two years I spent getting the degree. Terry, my wife of 45 years, was in the audience, she is a breast cancer survivor. And she never ceased supporting my MBA efforts even during difficult treatments and hospital stays. She’s the real hero. Life is tough, but she insisted I not lose momentum.
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