Presidents and Key Executives MBA, '05
Why did you choose Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management?
Right out of my undergraduate studies, I started working with existing companies that specialize in security products. But even as I moved between companies and moved up the career ladder in management, I found myself drawn to roles that required an entrepreneurial mindset, such as my positions that focused on growing a U.S.-based start-up. When I considered purchasing the company that I had helped to grow, I knew I had the experience and the skill set in that line of business. But I didn't have an "entrepreneurial vocabulary" – I just didn't have an appropriate level of entrepreneurial savvy. I tried to buy that company seven times, and seven times the deal didn't go through. That's when I decided to pursue a Presidents and Key Executives MBA through The Graziadio Business School.
How did getting your MBA from Pepperdine help to advance you in your career?
Well, the most tangible way is that while I was in business school, the owner of the business I'd tried to buy ran into trouble. After I earned my MBA, the company I currently work for acquired it -- and now I run it. So I ended up getting that company after all!
In all seriousness, my MBA helped to equip me with vision – the ability to look beyond the immediate, think strategically, and open my eyes to opportunities. Now, when issues arise at work, I examine all of the micro factors and macro factors, and consider how they impact each other, and what that means for our business. Every day, I ask myself how I can look ahead of the curve in my business decision-making. That's given my company a strategic advantage and given me a significant career advantage.
And I'm sure my colleagues would tell you that I am a far better manager than I was pre-MBA. Graziadio stressed the importance of building a strong culture that allows flexibility and ownership. So now I get out of the way and empower people to do what they were hired to do.
How would you define the "Pepperdine difference"?
Two important differences come to mind. The first is integrity, including moral integrity. As with many people in business, I've come in contact with far too many people who lack integrity. I don't conduct my personal life or my business that way; I surround myself with people who have the same values. That's a core value that Pepperdine instills in its MBA program.
And as much as I've benefited from my MBA, I also learned that success is more about significance than substance. As a result of my MBA program, I've asked myself how I can become more meaningful. I've found great joy in working with the institution that played such an important role in my life. We participate in the E2B program, I serve as a judge for the Entrepreneurial XX, and I serve on the Board of Visitors. That's one way I can give back, in some part, what I gained from my experience at Graziadio.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering seeking an MBA?
I know some people just want the "MBA" after their names, and I'm proud that I've earned that title, but an MBA is much more than a title – it's an experience to be embraced. During the program, you're surrounded by resources. I was in a cohort with amazing people, highly successful executives, and I had access to an incredible talent pool among the faculty -- they were an important part of my overall experience. My daughter's a swimmer, and I used to tell her, "Practice what you want to play!" [Editor's note: junior Jessica Mosbaugh is a scholar-athlete on the Pepperdine swim team] Really dive in deep to your program. You'll get out of it what you put into it.