An entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to manage time are both alive and well in Bob Compton. So much so that he went back to school for a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance at Southeastern Oklahoma State University right as he opened an equity company in January 2017.
“Regardless of where I’ve been working, I’ve always done something to generate additional income streams on my own,” Compton said. “I’ve owned rental properties, a couple of convenience stores, an IT consulting firm, and even a web development business as far back as the mid-’90s. Now that I'm 45, I really want to focus on my own endeavors instead of working for somebody else, so I thought the MBA would be a great opportunity to update my skill set, because the world has turned a few times in the last 20 years since I graduated with my undergrad in business. That was the main reason I went back.”
Compton, whose most recent occupation was the Lead Engineered Systems Solution Architect for CSC, based from his home in Norman, Oklahoma, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1995.
“I spend a lot of time working with very large computer systems, none of the desktop variety,” he said. “I usually spend months at a time implementing entire racks of equipment. Generally, the people who write the checks for the projects I work on are business people, not technology people.
“My business background gives me the opportunity to bridge the gap between the technology-minded folks and the business folks. So, I’m a good communicator on both sides in defining what the business side wants from the technology side and letting the business side understand the constraints from the technology side.”
The IT Crowd
Although Compton had a knack for computers from an early age, he seized an opportunity to enter information technology (IT) when he was working for the State of Oklahoma while attending the University of Central Oklahoma.
Compton was using a vacant office that housed the agency’s file server. He was asked to change out backup tapes, then to figure out how to set up email accounts, then to figure out how to attach a new printer to the network. It wasn’t long before he was the IT guy.
“I didn’t want to be a techie, because I thought I had too much personality for that, but when the time came to make a career choice, it was a much more lucrative field, and I was already excelling at it,” he said. “That’s the path I’ve taken, and come to find out, there is a whole lot of personality in IT.”
With two occupations and a demanding travel schedule, Compton’s only choice for school was the online format.
“I’d been considering the MBA for a while,” he said. “None of the options I had previously researched seemed financially attractive or were feasible due to my travel schedule for work. Everything seems to be working out extremely well. I’m taking two courses at a time. The flexibility and the fact it’s totally an online program means I can take care of my coursework wherever I may be.”
Compton said the low cost was also a key factor in his decision to enroll at SOSU.
“I’ve been familiar with Southeastern for decades,” he said. “So, once they started this program, I was already familiar with the school and had a good understanding of the program. That just seemed to be the most logical place to go, and the price is unbelievable.”
So far, the schedule within the online format has worked out perfectly with his hectic life.
“I have a self-contained office built in my home,” Compton said. “It turns into a juggling act sometimes, but the great thing about the courses would be the schedule being in a module format. With the schedule running Monday through Sunday, I usually get large blocks of time on the weekend strictly to study and complete assignments.”
Never Stop Learning
Compton, who will graduate in 2018, said he has already gained extremely beneficial information from an MBA curriculum that includes a pair of courses he enjoyed most.
“Financial Management [FIN 5213] is probably my favorite, followed by the current course I’m about halfway done with, Securities Investments [FIN 5433],” he said. “It is good not only from a company perspective but also from a personal perspective to be able to sit down and analyze valuations of various projects and different investment opportunities. Money makes the world go around. The better people have an understanding of it, the more informed decisions they can make.”
He is also the first person in his family to attend college although his wife, Donna, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education before she earned a law degree.
“She started pursuing a degree in law school and finished that up about five years ago,” he said. “She’s doing very well in her own practice, which gave me the flexibility I needed to go ahead and pursue my advanced degree. It’s a challenge, but it is absolutely doable.”
Bob and Donna also influenced their three children, Brittany (25), Brandon (23) and Breanna (21), when it comes to higher education. They are all pursuing their own higher education.
“I don’t think we gave them a whole lot of choice in the matter,” Compton said.
In addition to pursuing his summertime hobby as a certified barbecue judge, Compton will have to somehow work in time to attend several graduation ceremonies soon, although he’s still not sure his own will be one of them.
“It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive for me down to the campus,” he said. “It’s probably going to depend on when that happens and what my schedule is looking like at that time.”
Odds are pretty good he’ll find a way to be there. After all, he’s pretty good at time management.
Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis in Finance program.
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