Meet Four Online MBA Graduates from the Class of '24

July 10, 2024

A diverse group of recent graduates reflect on how their MBA experience has shaped their career journeys. 

A new cohort of freshly minted Online MBA students is making a difference in workplaces across the United States. Recently, we sat down with four members of the Class of 2024 to hear about the skills and perspectives they gleaned from the MBA program and the impact they aspire to make. 

Jason Dudley headshot

Jason Dudley

City: Austin, Texas 

Undergraduate Degree/Institution: Bachelor of Business Administration, Midwestern State University

Current Position: Major; Texas Department of Public Safety 

What motivated you to pursue an MBA?

After earning an undergraduate degree in business, I started off in manufacturing and operations before pivoting to state law enforcement. I currently serve as a Texas Ranger major in the Texas DPS Texas Ranger Division, where I oversee public corruption investigations at our headquarters in Austin. I plan to retire from the role in four to six years and have started researching opportunities to return to manufacturing and operations management. I began considering an MBA to enhance my business knowledge and strategic skills. Seeing my wife earn an online MBA at Baylor further piqued my interest. I realized that even with a busy schedule, the online format made it possible. 

How have you applied your MBA to your work in law enforcement?

I gained knowledge and tools that I apply in real-world scenarios every day. For example, I am fascinated by continuous improvement and standardization, but I never would have thought to apply these principles to law enforcement before the MBA program. As I undertake a role that involves procurement and budgeting, I leverage my MBA knowledge to review policies and procedures with the goal of eliminating waste and improving efficiency.

Can you think of one or two classes that have been particularly formative? 

Operations management provided an in-depth understanding of how to optimize processes, which has been valuable in my current role and will be valuable when I return to a business role after retiring with the state. I also really enjoyed my class in marketing analytics, which impressed upon me the importance of using knowledge of customer behavior to drive growth. 

What’s one lesson about leadership you have learned from the MBA program? 

I have always been fulfilled by coaching, guiding and training employees and seeing them grow and go on to great things. One of the ways the MBA program made me a stronger leader is by broadening my understanding of emotional intelligence. Influential leaders are strategic and decisive, but we also need to be empathetic and connected to team members at a personal level. I learned more about what it means to go beyond the work aspect and get to know someone in a one-on-one setting so I can better relate to them and help them reach their goals.

How do you like to spend your free time?

My wife and I enjoy hiking, outdoor grilling, discovering new restaurants and watching a lot of Food Network. We also love to travel. At the end of last year, we had the opportunity to visit Xiamen, China, my wife's hometown, for almost a month. My wife works for Dell, and it was exciting to visit a Dell manufacturing plant in Xiamen for an up-close view of how one of the world’s leading tech companies operates. 

Sarah Harris headshot

Sarah Harris

City: Booneville, Missouri

Undergraduate Degree/Institution: Bachelor of Science in Marketing, University of Northwestern Ohio

Current Position: Master Trainer; U.S. Army

Can you walk us through your military experience? 

My whole family is military—mainly Army with some Navy scattered—so enlisting at 17 was a no-brainer for me. I joined as an engineering technical specialist, which required me to visit construction sites and oversee everything from drainage plans to concrete testing. After nearly five years, I was unhappy to learn that I would soon become a recruiter. Then, I fell in love with recruiting. Several years ago, I earned an undergraduate degree in marketing to qualify for a promotion. I discovered that I had a natural aptitude for marketing and began looking at MBA programs with a marketing concentration. Baylor was the right fit. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of recruiting?

Recruiting is the first job I had that made me feel like I was making a difference. I remember working with one person who was not qualified because she had medical issues related to weight. She worked incredibly hard to lose weight and improve her health, and I did everything I could on my end to help her make the cut. I remember when she got into the Army, she hugged me and told me I was the only person who had not blown her off. Recruiting is a way to change someone’s life by doing the routine things you do on a daily basis. 

How did the MBA program make you more effective at what you do?

I develop training for 200 recruiters and 42 station commanders. I was surprised at how easily my MBA coursework translated to my day-to-day role. My marketing analytics class has sharpened my ability to dig through data and understand how it informs decisions about if and where to move people around. My class on negotiation was also critical. If someone at the Military Entrance Processing Stations wants something from a candidate that I cannot give them, I can offer part of what they want. I can work behind the scenes on waivers and requests to meet in the middle. 

What are your future career plans? 

My goal is to earn a final promotion and then retire from the Army in three years, which will mark two decades of service. Ultimately, I would like to start my own company. 

Josh Compeau headshot

Josh Compeau

City: Miramar Beach, Florida 

Undergraduate Degree/Institution: Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Northern Michigan University

Current Position: Account Manager – Chemical Intermediates; BASF

How did you end up in the chemical manufacturing space? 

Like many students studying biochemistry, I planned to become a doctor. I did not enjoy working in a hospital, but I was not ready to give up on my passion for science. Fortunately, I landed at BASF, one of the world’s largest chemical suppliers, and discovered an opportunity to combine my love of science with my interest in business. I started out in a technical services role, where I worked on everything from the chemicals in car headrests to chemicals that reduce the smell of asphalt. I have always enjoyed traveling for work and interacting with customers, so I moved to a role in sales.

What MBA classes did you find most useful?

I negotiate contracts in global supply agreements as part of my day-to-day role, so I found my class in negotiations to be valuable. I learned how to better understand the role of emotions in negotiating and how to stand back and listen instead of jumping in and speaking immediately. I also got a lot out of my statistics class. At my company, we use statistical-based software to help develop chemical formulas, so it was helpful to sharpen a skill I have developed over the years. 

What’s one lesson about leadership you have learned from the MBA program?

My top takeaway was recognizing the wide variety of viewpoints people hold. The class discussion boards demonstrated that there might be 100 different views on how to accomplish one goal. I can remember times in the past when I managed in a more rigid way. Now, I can give people the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge there might be multiple ways to get from A to B.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I have bought and sold properties since I graduated from college. Right now, I am working on tearing down a warehouse and building 23 homes in its place. I also fish professionally. I recently returned from the Florida Keys, where I participated in the annual Marathon Offshore Bull & Cow Dolphin Tournament. When I am not running tournaments, I enjoy being out on the water with my wife. Related to fishing, I am also the part owner in a fishing apparel company. I have my hands in a lot of things, and I love what I do! By strengthening my skillset, the MBA has helped me become more effective in my business endeavors. 

Mais Abbas headshot

Mais Abbas

City: Houston, Texas 

Undergraduate Degree/Institution: Master of Business Administration, Higher Institute of Business Administration; Bachelor of Business Administration, Al-Baath University 

Can you tell us more about your professional background?

I studied banking and finance in Syria, my home country, and went to work for a bank from 2009 to 2020. It was rewarding to be part of a relatively new sector as Syria was opening up to the world. My job was to evaluate and make recommendations regarding large businesses that applied for a loan. I loved the work—not only because I enjoy working with numbers but because it gave me the opportunity to learn about many types of businesses. There was something new every day; it was never routine. In 2020, I moved to the U.S. and decided to pursue a second MBA to access more professional opportunities in my field. 

What were the greatest challenges you confronted during your program?

At the beginning, language was the greatest challenge. Although I studied and used English in my banking career in Syria, it is different to have to absorb information entirely in English and prepare presentations in a second language. I have always been able to read and comprehend well, but speaking is harder. Fortunately, my professors and classmates made me feel at home and helped me improve quickly. The other challenge was finding a balance between my personal and professional life, especially after my son was born in July 2022. My husband owns a car dealership in Houston, and it was tough for us to balance work, parenthood and my MBA program at the same time. 

What are your career goals?

I am due with my second child this fall and will spend a year at home with her before continuing my career in the banking industry. With 11 years of experience and a Baylor MBA, I am looking forward to leveraging my experience in the banking sector.

How will you lead differently because of your MBA experience?

In Syria, the cultural norm is to lead in a tough, fear-based manner. Given everything we have gone through as a country, it is easy to see how people become desensitized and hardened. Americans are far more sensitive. In U.S. business culture, there is an emphasis on leading with kindness and empathy. Reflecting on prior management experience, I realize that I could be too harsh and too black and white in my thinking. My classes in management and ethics have taught me that there is more gray area than I previously imagined. They changed the way I viewed the world. Going forward, I will lead differently.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

My husband and I love to take our baby outside. You can find us anywhere that is green! We also try a new restaurant every week. Houston is so large that there is always something new to experience. 

What's Next

Are you ready to follow in their footsteps? Learn more about Baylor’s Online MBA program by clicking here or fill out the form below to speak directly with an admissions advisor.