Written by Brian Fitzgerald, VP of Digital Strategy at O’Rourke Hospitality
In late 2007, early 2008 I started to prepare to go back to school and get my MBA in the Washington DC area. I researched the various schools, weighed my pros and cons and took the GMAT. When all was said and done I was deciding between the part-time program at Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and The George Washington University School of Business. I ultimately chose George Washington partly because, at the time, it was less credit hours (and therefore less expensive) but more importantly I felt that it was more flexible and less rigid than the cohort approach at Maryland. In September of 2008 I began my journey.
When I started at GWU I was working for a small Internet marketing agency in Chevy Chase, MD. The two owners of the company both had their MBAs and so I had some assumptions about the value they might place on an individual that also had an MBA, but prior to my beginning there was never any discussion or direct evidence that it would lead to more responsibilities, salary, etc. In February of 2010, about 18 months into the MBA program, I got a promotion at work to take on additional responsibilities. I’d like to say this promotion was related to my MBA studies, but it wasn’t, it was because I proactively asked for the additional responsibilities, hounded the owners about it and they somewhat begrudgingly gave it to me. Yes, it was a strange situation but I was happy to have more responsibilities.
Right around this same time our small company had been acquired by a much larger, publically traded company. Soon the two owners were out and a new President from the parent company was in charge of the day-to-day operations. For about a year I had the opportunity to work closely with the new President and he was very open to hearing about my work experiences and MBA studies. I could tell that he liked that I was taking the initiative to go to school part-time and I could tell that he saw value in an MBA.
After that first year with the new President he promoted me to be part of the 6 member executive team, taking on a larger department of people and responsible for helping creating the strategy for the company. This promotion happened right around May of 2011, right when I was finishing my MBA program. I have since left that company in DC and moved back to my hometown of Boston where I’m working for a small marketing agency called O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing. My job is working directly with the two owners to grow a new business unit from the ground up.
All in all I completed my part-time MBA in under three years, secured a 3.7 GPA, all while working 50+ hours a week. As I look back on it those were actually some pretty miserable years. I say that partially joking, but partially serious. I was very stressed, relatively unhealthy and didn’t have time for many of the things I would typically enjoy. However, I’m glad that I did it and think that I proved a lot to myself in the process.
For what it’s worth, because I know sometimes people ask about the ROI of investing in an MBA, between when I started the MBA in September of 2008 and now (January 2012) my base salary has increased 58%. I really couldn’t say if that is average or above/below average, but I’m very happy with it.
Going into my decision to get my MBA I never really had expectations for the short-term, it was always more of a long-term strategy for later on in my career. I knew that it was something that I would probably need later to progress but something that I needed to do before my wife and I started to have a family. However, in retrospect I think it did help me get promoted at my job in DC and I think it positioned me very well for the job and responsibilities that I have now.