Andrew Egert is moving ahead in life, at his own speed.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University's online Master of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Finance can be completed in as few as 12 months, but Egert has decided to take the degree one class at a time. His family is his priority, and he also wants more time to develop his career and dig deeper into the MBA coursework.
"I started in September of 2018," he said. "So, I've taken basically one class every term because I do work full time. I should be done by September of this year, but I might take an additional class. So, it could be at the very end of 2020."
Going at a steadier pace has allowed Egert to consider his options in the program and ensure that his education matches his career goals.
"As you take classes, you can feel your way through and see what sparks your interest," he said. "I started with health information systems just to see if I could open doors to a new career path, but I re-evaluated it and moved to finance. It's so universal, you can use it in really every business environment that you're in."
Keeping his goals in focus while remaining open to new opportunities is important to Egert. He feels earning an MBA will free him up to explore his options while helping secure his career.
"I'm always open to moving outside of my industry, but for now, this is where I have all the connections and all the networking," he said. "I'm certainly going to try to move up within my current industry with my MBA. That's my goal."
Value in the Vineyard
Though it has been about 20 years since Egert received his bachelor's degree, he has hit his stride with the MBA coursework. Of the classes he has taken so far, MKT 5243: Marketing Management stands out for its relevance to his work at Winebow Imports, a Virginia-based wine and spirits distributor.
"Marketing Management is fantastic because it's my job to sell wine that people aren't familiar with — Italian wine," he said. "It scares a lot of people because they don't know a lot about it. It's a wine that you have to position in the market correctly, and you have to know your customers, know why the wine fits into the account, and promote it and market it to them correctly."
Egert's territory covers Oklahoma and North Texas, and learning the fine points of marketing has required him to change his perspective on how he understands his product. It has also changed how he approaches his customers and views the business itself.
"I've learned that the core of marketing is a customer-centric attitude and rapport-building is one of the most important aspects of what I do," he said. "Wine is a luxury item, and people have to have expendable income to buy it. It has to be something that people perceive as valuable."
Armed with specific examples of how big businesses use marketing techniques to increase profits, Egert is now applying those concepts toward his own success.
"That is also at the core of marketing — seeing the business as value-driven, and this class helps you see how organizations that are more successful have that customer-driven attitude and mindset," he said. "It's helping me fine-tune those skills."
Another class that made an impact on the way he perceives his daily business is BUS 5253: Data Analysis for Managers. It provided him with enhanced skills that he anticipates using as he makes his way upward.
"Data Analysis for Managers allows you to look at the numbers and extrapolate a lot of information from even the simplest of statistics," he said. "That class opened my eyes, and I even kept the textbook because I know that these are tools I can use down the road in my career."
Opening New Doors
Egert has enjoyed sharing the SOSU MBA experience with his digital classmates, and watching them grow their business knowledge.
"They're not all working professionals," he said. "Some of them are coming right out of their undergrad and going into this. It's fun to see their unbridled enthusiasm and how it is opening their eyes to a lot of things they've never even looked at before."
He knows an MBA can also create new opportunity, and he is adding leadership skill sets through the program that will ensure he's ready for career advancement.
"I was up for the promotion for a regional position, but the word I got was that I was too green for it," he said. "With an MBA, they're not going to say that. I'll be prepared with the skills that I need for the next position and the next level."
Though the hours may be long and the coursework challenging, Egert is confident that the payoff will be worth the sacrifice.
"It's an investment of time, but it will give you a whole different set of skills and a whole different perspective that is going to make you much more marketable," he said.
But it's not just about career marketability for Egert. Along with his wife Jacqueline, he is proud to be working toward building a better life and inspiring his children, Landon (13), Liam (11) and Laila (6), to do the same for themselves.
"Needless to say, they're extremely proud," Egert said. "I think they're a little bit surprised at the level of dedication and work it takes, but at the same time, I think it's an inspiration to my kids. They look at me and see their dad studying really hard. I think I'm a good role model for them.
"They've actually done better in school as a result, feeding off of my energy. That's exactly what my motivation is to get to new levels and be more successful for my family. That's what it's all about."
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