As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, Bryan Jones changed his life when he enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Supply Chain Management program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU).
Jones, 40, is a senior administrative specialist for the city of Cincinnati. He and his wife, Stephanie, have four children — Isaiah (18), Tionna (16), Demare (13) and Nylah (3).
“I wanted to show my kids that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” he said.
The flexibility of the online format was key for Jones, who works full time in a middle management position. He also transitioned to his current role in January 2021.
“The perception of online learning is changing with what we have been going through the last couple of years. You might feel like you’re not getting the same experience as far as classroom learning, but I didn’t feel that way in the MBA program,” said Jones, noting that he received the same quality of education online as one might expect in a classroom setting.
Jones grew up in Cincinnati and worked for his hometown for more than 12 years after starting as a police dispatcher. He also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2018.
“I became interested in supply chain when I was promoted to supply manager for the whole sewer department,” he said. “Any time you have a large infrastructure, there are a lot of different supplies to source.
“Seeing the dynamics with sourcing and the contracts piqued my interest. I was already doing the work, so the MBA in Supply Chain Management made sense.”
After researching several programs, Jones found the right fit with BGSU and especially his adviser, online MBA program coordinator Connie Disbro.
“When I spoke to her for the first time, I got a good vibe,” he said. “Bowling Green isn’t too big so, even though it was online, I didn’t feel like I would get lost. It felt like home.
“Connie said that she was going to follow up with me and make sure that I had everything I would need to give it my best shot. She did that. She checked in on me throughout the program to the end, which I appreciated.”
Leading For Organizational Success, taught by Dr. Jane Wheeler, was Jones’ favorite course in the curriculum.
“Some of the concepts and terms I have dealt with in my experience tied into that class,” he said. He believes the course is valuable for the different perspectives and approaches it teaches students, regardless of their experience level.
“I also liked the Business Ethics, Law and Communication course. I manage union employees. Some of what I learned in that class, along with my experience, helped me take the next step in my career,” he said.
Jones received much support from his household while he completed the online MBA program in 16 months.
“My wife encouraged me, although she was surprised I was going back to school,” he said. “I didn’t tell the rest of my friends and family until this past summer.
“It was a sacrifice for everybody in my family. I kept coaching little league and taking care of the kids’ extracurricular activities. There were a lot of late nights.”
As the second person in his immediate family to earn a graduate degree, Jones enjoyed walking in the commencement ceremony on campus in cap and gown.
“It was good to see my professors and classmates in person,” he said. “I got excellent value out of the MBA program — everything I wanted and more.”
Although the pandemic has not been easy for most, Jones used the extra free time to make a difference for his future. He believes that anybody considering a master’s degree should leap at the opportunity.
“If this is something that you want, the support structure is there,” he said. “The professors work with you. It’s affordable. It’s never too late to be your best. You can do it at Bowling Green.”