MBA at Any Stage: There Is No 'Right Time' to Pursue a Business Degree

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Dan Savage
System Director, OhioHealth
Image via iStock
Dan Savage explains how his journey to pursue his MBA didn't follow a traditional timeline; there's no standard path for business education, he says.

“I’d like to get my MBA someday; now is just not the right time.” This may be a thought that has played over in your head, whether you are trying to switch companies, are going for a promotion, or have hit a road block in your current role and feel further education could help you move forward. I’d always felt that an MBA was a necessary tool in my career, as it would continue to provide the flexibility that I’ve had in my career to pursue different opportunities.

I started my career in health care in 2002 after receiving my B.S. in business administration with a concentration in finance. Two years ago, after being out of college for nearly 15 years, I began to explore different MBA programs and what I thought might be a good fit for me. I chose three key components for my evaluation criteria: (1) the program needed to be affordable, (2) I wanted to have a classroom component (not fully online), and (3) it needed to be accredited by an international education body. Accreditation was important for me, as the higher education landscape has changed so much since I was an undergraduate student. Online programs seemed to be the norm in my search for an MBA, but it was hard to discern the quality of the programs. If I would be investing the time and money to pursue an MBA, I wanted it to be of value and also stand out on my resume. Additionally, I wanted a degree that would stand the test of time from a trusted program that would continue to be around many years from now.

I found a program that was the right fit for me—Ohio University’s Professional MBA. It was highly structured, so I knew what I would be doing for the next two years. I would be in a cohort of other professionals with various experiences, and I would be able to attend classes locally at their Dublin, Ohio, location. I applied and was accepted. At the time I was accepted, my third child was about a year and a half old. After receiving the acceptance, my wife and I made the decision to defer for a year, when things would be a little less hectic at home with three young kids. So, even after having been accepted, the timing still wasn’t right!

About a year later, I received a promotion at my company and obtained support from my new leadership team to pursue my MBA. The timing worked out, and I began pursuing my MBA in the fall of 2017, with plans to complete the program in the fall of 2019.

The program has been helpful in my current career in that it allows me to step back and look at the dynamics of the company and industry through a broader lens. Often we are caught in the daily minutiae of reports, presentations, emails, and deadlines, but we don’t take the time to pause and expand our skill sets.

Ohio University’s program is a mix of classroom instruction, hands-on learning, sharing experiences with other professionals, and research. Hearing from people in other industries and in different technical careers has provided me with new perspectives that allow me to think differently when challenged with problems at work, and has allowed me to build a well-rounded professional network.

Another interesting component of the MBA program is its option to select one of four concentrations, of which I selected health care. I’ve worked in various business roles over the past 16 years within the health care industry, currently serving as the system director for the heart and vascular service line with OhioHealth. I will begin courses focusing on the health care concentration this summer and am looking forward to how I can apply what I learn to my current role.

While the timing never seems to be perfect, if you’re interested in pursuing your MBA, I encourage you to take the time to research what different programs have to offer and make the decision based on what is right for you; once you’ve found your fit, don’t be afraid to make the leap into a program that will enhance your value as a leader and a professional.

Dan Savage
System Director, OhioHealth
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