When Cade Ratliff graduated from Bowling Green State University (BGSU), he was in love with the school and the community. He longed for something more than the bachelor’s degree in management that he added in December 2019.
His internal compass brought him right back to complete the Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Supply Chain Management online program. He graduated in May 2021.
“I looked into a lot of different programs, but I decided Bowling Green’s online MBA was the best fit for me,” he said. “It was really flexible, so I could go at my own pace. I knew I wanted to get it done quickly but also wanted the ability to taper it down, if needed. I liked the program design and decided it was kind of a no-brainer to choose BGSU considering how good my experience was there before.”
While he completed his undergraduate degree in person, he knew an online format would work better for his MBA as he had started a full-time job that he wanted to continue at Jann’s Netcraft, a fishing tackle retailer in Maumee, Ohio.
“My passion in life is fishing,” he said. “While serving as president of the Bowling Green club fishing team, I realized that I needed to pursue my passion and find a job in this industry.”
His role as assistant to the owner has allowed him to dabble in purchasing, warehouse operations, retail, customer service and product support. Ratliff viewed an MBA degree as an investment in his future and an opportunity to hone his skills.
“I’m sure it’s reassuring to my employer that I would continue to invest in myself and my professional development,” he said. “Long term, I think I’m well suited to make a difference in the fishing tackle industry. I’d like to continue to develop and grow where I am or eventually evolve into an executive-level position at a major fishing tackle company.”
Hooked on Learning
Ratliff said he took to the online format right away. His favorite class was Strategic Project Management for Supply Chain Change with professor Troy Stevenson. He liked how Stevenson tailored assignments so that students could immediately reap the benefits of the coursework and apply it to their workplaces.
“He’s a really relatable, likable person who held great virtual classes. We did a lot of quantitative case studies that helped me not only understand the course material but also work on problem-solving skills from a broader standpoint,” Ratliff said. “It was all really applicable to my profession.”
Strategy Design and Implementation with professor Dr. Hokey Min was another favorite for Ratliff who enjoyed the focus on global operations.
“Every business is global in some regard, so that class is very relevant. While the workload is challenging, it’s rewarding as you gain understanding of the concepts and follow case studies that tie in with course materials.”
Ratliff liked how connected he felt to his classmates and professors despite only meeting virtually. He credits Dr. Janet Hartley in the Category Management and Strategic Sourcing course for creating a truly collaborative group environment online.
“I felt like I was right there with my group, and we were all relying on each other to complete assignments,” he said. “Each week was a building block onto another week of material. The class culminated in a role-play contract negotiation between a cleaning service and a factory which was the perfect way to tie it all together. She made us feel like we were working toward a real goal.”
Reeling It In
While recreational saltwater fishing and competitive bass fishing provide Ratliff with exciting diversions, nothing has been quite as interesting to him, of late, as his education.
“It’s so important to take what you have learned and keep it in the forefront of your mind — not on some back burner,” he said. “Often, I’ll be at work and recall something that I learned in class. Translating newly learned skills right into the real world has been awesome. I do that more often than I ever imagined.”
Ratliff worked hard to complete the online MBA program with a 4.0 GPA. He advises others interested in the program at BGSU to move forward unafraid.
“It’s certainly a challenge, but all of the flexibility that Bowling Green offers will help you get it done. Courses are in seven-week sessions, and you choose how many courses to take at a time. If you need to take more time, take more time. Don’t be shy and steer away from this. Completing an MBA is very rewarding.”
His parents and grandparents also encouraged him to continue his education and work on developing himself as a professional. His family’s support meant everything to him.
“My parents were on board. They knew I could handle school while working full time. Everybody saw it coming, but a lot of people were surprised at how quickly I was able to get it done.”
Ratliff walked in his graduation ceremony alongside his friends in the program. He knows he’s already found a great job but he’s now better positioned to grow in his career. In the meantime, he plans to stay busy working, fishing, watching sports and spending time with family and friends.
“I have big aspirations, so I want to make sure that I’m always working on becoming more knowledgeable to be prepared for any future opportunities that come to me,” he said.
“Life’s been pretty hectic while I finished up school, but over the next couple years, I would love to get back into the competitive bass fishing scene.”