AdmitMBA360 Blog formerly Journey to my MBA

Journey to my MBA

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Why an MBA Now?

I’ve decided to limit my blogging for the next couple of weeks to 2-3 day intervals instead of the pace I’ve been going at which is once a day. I have two very important tests coming up, (GMAT and Class Test) over the next two weeks and as much as this Blog helps me process, it also takes quite a bit of time. In fact, I just read an article on blogging burn-out. I enjoy this weblog so much. I just can’t bear the thought of it becoming such a barrier to managing my most important immediate priorities.

Anyway, I just wanted to answer one last question about myself as I promised before slowing down my pace of blogging. The question I’ll be answering is, “Why an MBA now?”

Dave, your 36 years old… why now?

First some background.
After graduating from college, I was heading for Medical School and my world sort of turned upside down. I ended up not going. During the application process, I ended up taking a job to bring in some cash. I took a job that I thought would be so easy for me to do. It was to be a computer retail sales guy. I did that for a year. As it turned out, I was quite good at it. In fact, I was the number one retail salesman in the NorthWest (4 states) region of my company among all it’s 2800 affiliate branches spread across the U.S. My gross sales beat everyone. I honestly didn’t stay up late working at it either. I came to work, did my thing and left. I got raises and bonuses sporadically that year. It was weird to me how I was doing it. I merely tried hard to be a customer service oriented guy and I spent some time coming up with interesting analogies to explain computer jargon to people coming in saying they were computer illiterate.

I had been dating my current wife during this time and that computer sales job was up in Washington State where my parents were. After about a year and a half, I moved down and took a job in California to be with her. I had gone to school in the area and grew up in Southern California, so it was essentially home to me. My parents moved up to Washington State in my junior year of college.

Now, the why…

Since 1993, I had progressively taken on more and more computer technical roles at companies. I studied on my personal time to improve my knowledge and so this took a bunch of my time until, I went to a Church where I was invited to work and mentor College students. The idea was a good direction for me I thought. I always felt that College age students really needed good mentoring and encouragement. It’s challenging because college age to post college years requires a good deal of emotional growth in being able to manage all the adult hood things of life like money, work, relationships and education.

So began a journey of working with one pastor to find the first student and start a college group from scratch. I guess you could say it was a business startup. Fast forward 6 years and the result was a group of 150 students, 5 additional staff and activities, continuous ongoing strategy meetings, 300 e-mails a day, mentoring and meeting up with 10-12 students individually a week. The group ended up being 3 times larger than any Christian organization on the primary school we had targeted. I had student directors, staff members, ministry activities leaders, various other groups all reporting to me. I was spending no less than 30 hrs a week doing all this. Last I checked, the group is now at 300. It's interesting how a group can grow rapidly once it hits certain size milestones and you bring in the right mix of leadership and creativity. There 15 other Christian groups on this schools campus. The largest one compared to this group I help to start is 40 people now. Many of these groups had previously existed on campus for over 25 years.

Take a step back a bit now. I was working in IT. IT is sporadic in hours. Sometimes, you hit 60 hr weeks and sometimes less. I went from a help desk position early in 1993 to Senior System Engineer years later. With all the time I was putting in with College students, I had very little time to think about career development. There were many weeks when my hours at work and with college students would both kick up so much that I could count the hours of sleep I had on my two hands.

I know I should have put more thought into my career. My vision of where I wanted to be in the 5 yr , 10yr picture always had College students tainting my own personal goals. So I was only thinking about positions that could allow me to work and have time for College students.

I continued to do what I could at work to just get by in terms of knowledge at my job. This meant studying for computer certifications left and right when I could find spare minutes here and there. I studied during lunches, dinners while waiting for students to show up for appointments, even in the bathroom. I know that sounds vulgar, but I was seeking every spare minute to get the most done.

On top of all this, I was still dating my current wife. We had our ups and downs, but that took quite a bit of time as well.

All this time with college students and my work life changed 3 years ago when I got married. I started to realize that continuing with College students was leaving me empty. I was starting to think about what the core of my passions and gifting really were. I was always enterprising, strong in administration skills, strategizing, vision casting, creating new divisions of the College group to address different needs and recruiting students for different tasks and projects. I did this really well to be honest.

The decisions to be made became clearer as I began to realize that I was being called to go with one of the pastors to start a Church in Silicon Valley 6 months after I got married. I felt the conditions were leading me to do it. So my wife and I left all our closest friends and her family to start this Church. I ran Operations, Finances and provided organizational structure management to the new initiative. But I wasn’t getting paid. I would work 40-60 hr weeks and I was starting to wonder about my career and my financial status. When you get married, money matters a lot more. Not in the sense of wanting to be rich, but more in the area of having enough to know that you can take care of the costs coming in and do some occasional fun things. The Church is now over 500 and is the fastest growing Church on the West Coast for our denomination which has over 3000 Churches. Once again, I see my leadership helping to grow organizations. Although… let’s be honest. God has a say you know!

As I contemplated my future this last 3 years since moving to Silicon Valley, I started to reflect on my years working with college student and how my IT career advanced so little because I didn’t try that hard. (I kept looking for jobs that were stable and would give me time to work with students at night or be flexible to do lunches with students)

Reflectively, I saw Executive leadership as something that I loved and was good at. Starting from scratch or building something up from nothing and knowing how to change the infrastructure of the organization to accommodate growth and prevent stagnation due the decision making bottlenecks and to invest into people to get to those levels.

A couple of examples that show what I’m talking about were jobs where I was tasked to build consulting branches of IT companies that previously didn’t exist or to bring in more business. At one company, the gross sales in the first year alone exceeded 3 million dollars. Another company I went to had me initially managing 5 different companies IT departments. Dozens of introductory meetings with new companies later, it turned into 24 companies who depended on my being available to strategize with each company on IT utilization within defined budgets and support of existing IT resources. I would do some of the work, or I would bring in others from my company to help get the work done in a timely fashion. Eventually, when I left the company, 7 of those companies followed me and I ended up supporting them on the side.

Ok, so now back to my situation in Silicon Valley. After about a year, I stopped working at the Church to take a job bringing in money. I was starting to get paid from the Church, but due to other reasons, I decided to pass the baton on to someone else of what I was responsible for and enter the IT workforce again. From that point till now, I’ve taken on numerous contracts because the job market here has really sucked so contracts were the best you could get if you were new to the area. But in the last 6 months was when I decided to stick my neck out and take action on a business school possibility.

So you see, infrastructure, business, leadership, customer service, organizational change, mentoring… these are all things I’ve learned how to do and do better over time. It just makes sense to get the MBA and it seems that the decision to go get it is a natural step in my career growth.


Blogger britchick said...

Great story. But why an MBA rather than an EMBA? (wich might be a question adcoms are asking.

Hope the study goes well, and try to find time to relax and have some fun too!

12:23 AM  
Blogger Dave for MBA said...

I think I may have to post the answer later. A little too long to answer that here. But for the sake of simplicity. My core reasons are 1) Want to get the most out of the education without juggling work and school(My old room mate got his MBA from UCI doing the part time thing. He was miserable during that time with regards to the quality of his personal life. As I'm married I don't think I want to go through that experience) 2) IT is terribly inconsistant with time spent at work and consequently, would cause me to lose numerous hours to cause me to consider myself a poor candidate in that condition 3) I'd rather build the more robust nature of networking that full time allows 4)

10:47 AM  
Blogger Gaurav said...

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Hey You can view my Blog its also Good

1:55 AM  
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9:42 PM  

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