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Senior VP Says Master's Degree Furthered Start-Up Tech Company

As the Senior Vice President of Global Business Development and Strategic Partnerships at Imagine Communications, John McNamara is responsible for leading a team focused on developing and managing relationships with strategic partners engaged in delivering the next generation cloud, IP, IT based platforms and solutions for the media and entertainment industry. McNamara shares his experience in the executive Master of Business Administration program at Washington University in St. Louis.

(Photo Courtesy of John McNamara)

Why did you pursue a master's degree?

"I believe on-going education and a deeper, broader knowledge in subject areas foreign to me would be beneficial in my future business life. As a political science undergrad major, my knowledge of the business world was limited. I had been in sales roles for seven years and felt my weakness was in not having a full grasp on the 'business' side of a sales deal. I did not fully understand both sides of a balance sheet or the supply chain and manufacturing issues to drive costs out of the business. Having years in sales management before entering graduate school was valuable in already having a sense of the 'real world' and where my skills needed to be sharpened."

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master's degree?

"Consider all MBA options, full-time, executive, part-time and determine which best fits your current and foreseeable future financial and workload obligations. See how your current employer can assist in all of these options. A degree of any sort is something no one can ever take away from you. It's with you for life. It demonstrates your desire to continually better yourself, stretch yourself and see things through a more practical sense. I enjoyed getting a general studies MBA for business versus a specific one in accounting, finance or operations as I use all the disciplines in my work as a business leader."

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master's degree?

"My biggest challenge was time management. I was a recently promoted sales manager with added responsibilities. We had our first daughter the same month I started school. Work, family and school all had to be juggled. My financial analytic skills were very weak but over the two-year program became more honed, and with that, my confidence improved when back at work."

What was the biggest reward for earning the master's degree? 

"The benefit of being able to see solutions to business problems through the eyes of finance, manufacturing, accounting, operations and R&D's eyes gave me better tools to manage my business. This broader view beyond my sales perspective enables me to see a bigger picture and ultimately make better overall business decisions for the company. There is never only one way to solve a problem, and getting my master's gave me the confidence and tools to understand data and turn it into information to make better business decisions. Regardless of where you get your degree from, you become a part of the school family. In the end, family members tend to take care of their own, and in business, these connections will be invaluable throughout your career."

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at 

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