After more than 24 years of working for the same organization, Brigham Sloan is still thinking about the big picture.
“As you look around and examine folks sitting in C-suite positions, most of them have the advanced business degrees,” he said. “They might have an MBA in finance, accounting or marketing.”
This insight made Sloan realize that earning a master’s was critical to fulfilling his ambitions.
So, he began a new leg in his higher education journey and graduated from the hybrid Master of Business Administration program at Youngstown State University in 2019.
“It was primarily to help me move my career along,” he said. “When I looked at the options that I had and where I could go, Youngstown looked like it would most fit my schedule. Ultimately, it was the best fit for me.”
Sloan landed a promotion to managing director of operations and finance at Core Civic in Nashville just as he was completing the MBA program.
He has worked for the company since 1996 in a variety of roles including human resources manager, new facility activation coordinator, learning and development manager, business manager and warden.
“The organization I work for has provided me a lot of opportunities,” he said. “It’s a non-traditional approach to business administration, and I learned quite a few things along the way.”
The online courses that Sloan took in the YSU online MBA program helped him make a smooth transition into his new role without missing a beat with his schoolwork.
“The way that Youngstown approached the online portion of the program was considerate of professionals in the workplace,” he said. “Even the online sessions interacting with the professors were at convenient times.”
A Business Decision
Sloan was born and raised in the Florida panhandle. He enrolled at the University of West Alabama after graduating from high school in Lynn Haven.
“I intended to transfer to the University of Alabama after one year, but I met my wife, Stephanie, and decided she was a very good reason to stay there.”
After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration from UWA in 1991, Sloan worked as a regional director for a petroleum company for four years.
“As an undergraduate, I knew that I wanted to work in the business world,” he said. “Outside of that, I did not have a specific direction that I was headed.”
When Sloan enrolled in the MBA program, his daughter, Kaileigh, was a student at Kent State University, while his son, Keaton, was a student at Colorado State University.
“I was taking college classes at the same time as my two adult kids,” he said. “There was a bit of competition going on. It is not an easy effort. You often get out of these programs what you put into them.
The program was challenging, but his wife’s support helped him persevere.
“I had spoken often with my wife about going back to school. If it wasn’t for her helping me and encouraging me all along, I probably would not have finished the enrollment process.”
Sloan enjoyed each of the courses in the MBA curriculum and still applies what he learned to his career on a regular basis.
“The courses were relevant,” he said. “The instructors were knowledgeable in the course content. Many of them had experience working in the business world, which was important. I found all of the courses to be beneficial.”
Return on Investment
Since Sloan started at Core Civic, he and his family have moved often and lived in Florida, Colorado, Ohio and Tennessee.
“I have found things that I loved about all of the places I have lived,” he said. “When you move around, that’s kind of the way you have to do it — you find a reason to love the place that you’re in. Nashville is great.”
Even with all of his real-world experience, the return to studies after a long hiatus was an enlightening experience for Sloan.
“It was interesting to see from 1991 to 2018 some of the changes in material in business,” he said. “I found there was more of an emphasis on ethical business practices, communication and teamwork in the more recent classes than when I went to school [as an undergrad]. That was also helpful. I learned some things I didn’t know.”
The online MBA program at YSU helped Sloan advance in his career before graduating, but he never plans to stop thinking big and aiming for the C-suite.
“As soon as I finished the degree, I had the opportunity to get promoted to managing director,” he said. “Within our organization, that’s the highest level you can reach before you can become an officer in the company.
Sloan is confident the degree and the knowledge he gained from his experience were reason for his promotion: “My ability to apply what I learned was the driving factor behind getting promoted quickly, so the MBA was quite beneficial.”
Learn more about YSU’s online MBA programs.