Former BGSU Baseball Player Fred Sharp Earns MBA in Online Program

When Fred Sharp found out his company offered tuition reimbursement, he embraced the opportunity to earn a master’s degree at his alma mater.

Sharp completed the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) with a 3.5 GPA in August 2021. Five months later, he landed a promotion to global chief of staff for the chief revenue officer at software company SAP.

“I was at a crossroads about which route I wanted to go with my career at SAP,” he said. “I felt that going back to get an MBA would allow me to take the path I wanted to.

“Based on my career aspirations and where I want to go, my manager and mentors felt the MBA would be extremely critical.”

Stretch Innings

Sharp played catcher for BGSU’s baseball team as he worked toward a bachelor’s degree in sports management, which he completed in 2013.

“I thought that I wanted to work in sports and stay in baseball,” he said. “I did that the summer after I graduated, but I didn’t like it — the hours, the pay, the overall job responsibilities. It wasn’t something I envisioned myself doing for the next 30 to 40 years.”

Sharp and his wife, Mara, have a 2-year-old daughter, Leila. The flexibility of the online format in the MBA program helped Sharp stay the course without missing a beat as his life picked up speed.

“We would get the assignments and have all week to work on them,” he said. “I would study throughout the week, taking a couple of hours each day to get some schoolwork done.

“I also allowed myself time on Saturday or Sunday to finish everything up and turn it in. I was able to set my schedule to work full time and still be a husband and a dad and an MBA student.”

Catching On

Sharp grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan, near Detroit. He moved back home recently after living in Phoenix for four years.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career for a while,” he said. “With the sports mindset, I thought about the team captain and the leader in certain statistical categories.

“I looked at a business model and thought, ‘Who is the best? What is No. 1? CEO, CFO, Chief Revenue Officer? Okay, let’s learn more about them, what they do and how to get to those roles.'”

After working in recruiting, staffing and sales, Sharp started at SAP as a regional account executive in 2019. He has received two promotions during his tenure.

“Now, I am in the operations side working with the chief revenue officer,” he said. “It’s a $3 billion business under the SAP umbrella that sells our procurement and workforce time and expense software.”

Leading for Organizational Success and Supply Chain Management were Sharp’s two favorite courses in the online MBA program.

“The latter is very pertinent to my job now,” he said. “We call it an intelligent spend network. We cover procurement both direct and indirect and our supply chain tool. It’s a topic of conversation that’s on everyone’s mind.

“I didn’t know I’d be going down this path. I’m not a supply chain expert, but the course I took at Bowling Green for my MBA gave me some supply chain knowledge that I didn’t have beforehand, which has been helpful.”

The other courses in the curriculum also set Sharp up for success in his current position after he spent 13 months as a senior account executive.

“By having that experience in the MBA program, I was able to look at business cases and simulations of real-world experiences that I have been able to use in my thought process for decisions that I have to make in my current role,” he said.

Winning Streak

Sharp has already been to Dubai for work in his new position, and he has trips to Japan and Australia on the calendar. He looks forward to parlaying the experience he is gaining – in people management, business principles, strategy and planning – into advancement to a chief operations officer role within a smaller business at SAP.

“Then, I can take a step up and work my way into larger leadership roles with more responsibility and more people as time goes on,” he said. “The MBA will 100% help create opportunities for me.”

Plus, Sharp is the first person in his immediate family to earn an advanced degree. His parents tell people about the accomplishment every chance they get.

“They are pumped for me,” he said. “It was exciting. I didn’t do it to one-up them; it was a personal goal of mine to help accelerate my career.”

With the one-year anniversary of graduating from the online MBA program approaching, Sharp wouldn’t change a thing about the experience of returning to higher education.

“Bowling Green is a close-knit community with advisers, faculty and staff who are there to help,” he said. “I still talk to some of the advisers.

“I would tell anyone considering the MBA program to just do it. You’re going to enjoy the experience. There is a wealth of people in the Bowling Green network who are going to help and want to see you succeed.”

Learn more about BGSU’s online MBA program.

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