MBA

MBA “poets” go through boot camp to prepare for classes with “quants”

Classes began on Monday evening, August 19 for Drury graduate students, but, for a handful of students, they’ve already had an intense summer.  Non-business undergraduate students spent five weeks this summer drinking from the fire hose of knowledge trying to become eligible for Drury’s Master of Business Administration (MBA).

In the slang vocabulary of Master of Business Administration education, there are two types of students. “Quants” are students who have undergraduate degrees in technical majors such as engineering or business. “Poets” are students who come to the MBA program from the social sciences and humanities. Even before they could take a graduate business class, the poets could be staring down nearly 24 hours of prerequisite courses in accounting, finance, economics, management and marketing to be admitted to an MBA program.

To help non-business undergraduates overcome that barrier and to increase the pool of potential applicants to the MBA program, a few years ago Drury introduced the “MBA Boot Camp.” Its official name is the Certificate in Business Essentials and it covers all of the prerequisites for Drury’s MBA program in just a few weeks every summer.

Angie Davis, director of Drury's MBA program

“It’s very intense and not easy. Students attend class four nights a week for five weeks,” said Angie Davis, director of Drury’s MBA. “But if you’re focused and determined enough, you can finish and meet all of the pre-requisites.”

Students who complete the program earn eight hours of undergraduate credit and hit the ground running when they begin the graduate classes. “After going through boot camp, I’m looking forward to the MBA classes,” said Courtney Mellinger, a first-year MBA student. “Taking one class is going to seem much easier than attending class four nights a week.”

Winter Skelton graduated from Drury in 2005 with a double major in writing and English. She put that degree to use immediately as a communications coordinator at Community Foundation of the Ozarks. It didn’t take long before she was promoted to Director of Donor Services. That promotion, combined with Skelton’s goals of earning a master’s degree and to one day become the executive director of a non-profit organization, compelled Skelton to consider several MBA programs, but she settled on Drury.

Winter Skelton, 2010 Drury MBA Graduate

“I took one business class in college, non-profit management, and one math class,” Skelton said. “I chose Drury because of the boot camp, otherwise, I was looking at a year or two of prerequisite classes before taking any MBA courses.”

Skelton, though, is the first to admit it was an intense five weeks, “I told my friends, ‘I’ll see you in five weeks.’ It was hard, all I did was work, go to school and do homework; but five weeks is better than two years.”

For students who complete the Certificate in Business Essentials, but don’t go on to pursue an MBA, the coursework provides eight undergraduate credit hours and a foundation for those who want to work in business or start a company.

The ability to become MBA-ready in just five weeks has also opened the degree up to a wider population of potential students, and that has elevated the quality of the program. “Non-business people have a different way of looking at the world,” said Davis. “Humanities people may be more focused on language and relationships, and science people see things logically. Those different worldviews make for a robust classroom discussion, which benefits all students pursuing a Drury MBA.”

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury.

Five Pound Apparel: “Everything we sell gives back.”

“I was in college and driving to coach soccer in Fair Grove and my friends and I saw a guy stranded on the side of the road. We helped the guy push his car out of danger and he used one of our cell phones to call for help. It was a good feeling to help that guy and my friends and I thought about how we could incorporate helping people into the rest of our lives,” said Bryan Simpson, who will earn a Master of Business Administration from Drury on Sunday.

That event, while Simpson was a college undergraduate, was the inspiration for Five Pound Apparel, a social business based in Springfield that donates five pounds of food for every one of the branded t-shirts it sells; but Simpson and his partners had a rocky start.

Simpson playing soccer during his Drury undergraduate days

A 2006 graduate of Kickapoo High School, Simpson came to Drury to play soccer. A broken foot in his sophomore year put an end to his soccer career and sent him to another local college where his father worked and Simpson could attend for practically nothing. After helping the man with the broken down car in the spring of 2010, Simpson and his housemates bought a screen-printing starter kit and began watching how-to videos. Simpson and his partners started a business called Global Tees, and they were taking orders and making t-shirts, but they didn’t have a business license and weren’t supposed to be manufacturing anything in a single-family home. Global Tees had a choice, shut down the t-shirt production or get fined for every day it continued to make t-shirts.

“We should have thought about quitting. One of the realities with screen-printing is that college kids can start it in their living room. Entry is easy, but profit margins are low,” Simpson said.

Simpson and his partners did not quit, and Simpson’s dad helped them out. He pushed back his retirement and bought a building, which Simpson and his partners lease, so the business could have a legal, appropriate location. When the company re-opened as Five Pound Apparel in December of 2010, it had a new vision.

Simpson in front of Five Pound Apparel with his girlfriend Bethany Forrester

“Our message is that everything we sell gives back. For every shirt we sell from our brand, we provide five pounds of food to Nepal nutrition,” Simpson said. Nepal Nutrition provides food for children in Nepal and was founded by a fellow Kickapoo graduate Mark Arnoldy.

Simpson is the first to admit, that he did not have a business plan and got lucky, “I’m actually glad I hadn’t gone to Drury for my MBA before I started Five Pound Apparel because I learned how stupid it was to start that business,” Simpson said. “If I had evaluated everything, I probably wouldn’t have done it.”

Now, Five Pound Apparel is profitable and Simpson and his partners are ready to expand to an additional location and a more robust online presence, and he’s prepared to succeed with the knowledge he’s earned from his Drury MBA.

Simpson has come back to Drury to speak to undergraduates about how to start a business, “I tell them to take a low risk first step. They’ll either be successful and can build on that idea or they’ll fail, but they won’t lose their life savings,” Simpson said. “But they should do it while they’re young. I don’t even have a dog, no one gets hurt if I fail.”

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury.

MBA students connect in China, remain connected professionally

Brian Williams and Max Buetow both recently graduated from Drury’s Master of Business Administration program. Despite being nearly 20 years apart in age, the connection they forged during their classes in the Breech School of Business has continued into their careers.

Max Buetow (left) and Brian Williams with fellow MBA student Cindy Jones in China.

Williams, 49, is a vice president and chief business development officer for CoxHealth. “Earning an MBA had always been a goal, but because of work and family, I’d never done it,” Williams said. “Many people said that I didn’t need to do it, but I wanted to be a lifelong learner, so I had that goal out there and I went to accomplish my goal.”

Buetow, 30, a former collegiate hockey goaltender at Canisius College in New York, married a Springfield native and was looking for a good MBA program. “I met with (then MBA director) Dawn Hiles and she introduced me to Todd (President Todd Parnell),” Buetow said. “I liked the feeling that Drury was a family atmosphere and the ‘we’ll stick by you for life’ idea.”

All students in Drury’s MBA program take a weeklong trip to China as part of the curriculum. Williams and Buetow knew each other from class, but were merely acquaintances in 2009 when they were planning for the China trip at the end of the spring semester. The younger Buetow reached out to the 40-something Williams about being roommates in China, “It’s a credit to Max, as a lot of young men wouldn’t see any value in having a mentor that’s 20 years older than you. We just cultivated a friendship,” Williams said.

“He (Williams) epitomizes the saying, ‘Trying to suck the marrow out of life’,” Buetow said. “He was up early running in Tiananmen Square and then we were out meeting people and doing all we possibly could to make it an amazing experience.”

Buetow graduated in 2009 while Williams had a few more classes to complete before graduating in 2010, but the two men kept in touch and worked on a small real estate investment project together.

Buetow eventually landed at Sara Lee in Kansas. When Williams had an opening for a Clinic Director at Springfield Neurological and Spine Institute, he called Buetow. Buetow was already looking at another manufacturing job in Kansas City, but, after an interview and meeting with the doctors, he accepted the job in March of 2012.

“Max is a very genuine person, he connects with people and he has strong analytical skills,” Williams said. “He’s just a genuine person that I remained connected with and he is extremely trustworthy.”

Buetow and Williams will join other alumni of the Drury MBA China trip for a gathering called “Great times on the Great Wall” on Thursday, Nov. 1 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at  Parlor 88 – Southside. Any alumni of the Drury MBA program’s China trip are welcome. Please RSVP to rsvp@drury.edu.

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Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications at Drury.