The global pandemic took Raymond Somich out of the airports and into the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU).
“With my position, I travel 80-plus days a year — including overseas,” he said. “It was perfect for me because I wasn’t traveling [due to the COVID-19 pandemic]. I could double up on the course load all the way through until the end to complete the program in one year.”
Somich, who is a global marketing director for Synthomer in the Cleveland area, completed BGSU’s online MBA program in August 2021.
“It was the right place at the right time,” he said. “I am at a midpoint in my career, and I wanted a jump-start. I have a great background of experience on the corporate side, but I wanted a refresher on the academic principles to understand the theory behind it.”
Even though he was working from home, the online format was key for Somich. He and his wife, Sarah, have four children, ages six through 11.
“One of the reasons I chose BGSU was the time commitment — it fit my needs,” he said. “I appreciated the online ability — it was a good mix of learning styles.
“The cost was also very reasonable. I liked the supply chain background. I could do extra electives to make supply chain a focus in addition to finance.”
Earning a degree from home led to some extra bonding time for Somich and his children.
“They were in virtual school with me, which was a lot of fun,” he said. “They saw Dad doing homework while they were. It was great for them to see me putting in the time and the hours.
“There were late-night study sessions. It’s a commitment. My family was super supportive, but they knew my weekends were pretty much toast. I learned to make a good pot of coffee.”
Somich is from Cleveland, but he has also lived in Pennsylvania and Michigan. He graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from David N. Myers University in 2001.
“I started off on the communications side and then went into sales and marketing,” he said. “I did a variety of roles on the commercial side. The MBA has a different approach in the way you look at management decision-making.
“In undergrad, you learn principles and theories. With the MBA, you learn how to apply those to complex situations or think about them from a holistic perspective.”
The course titled Quantitative Analysis for Managers was the most practical and applicable course in the program for Somich.
“It drove you right into the details of Microsoft Excel and strategic decision-making, like how to build analytical models to bring about productivity, asset optimization, and greater financial return,” he said. “I learned a ton in a short amount of time, and I was able to put it to practical use for a problem at work I was struggling with.”
Somich said he also enjoyed the courses Marketing Management and Strategy and Leading for Organizational Success.
“I liked learning about the Blue Ocean and product and life-cycle strategy and thinking about innovation and pipeline development,” he said. “That was great. The leadership course was different than I expected. I thought it will be about how to lead people, but the first half of the class was about personal identification and understanding.
The class pushed Somich to ask personal and professionals questions: “What are your goals? What is your leadership style? Are you comfortable in your own style in order to lead others? That was a cool, introspective class. Then, it opened up to how do you apply that to communicate well and share your vision?” he said.
Plus, Somich liked the ability to tailor the online MBA program to his needs with the four elective courses in the curriculum.
“I made sure they were complementary to what I want to do today and what I want to do in my next role,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose additional supply chain courses, a technology systems class and financial quantitative analysis. I wanted to give myself a little push in understanding the concepts applied to an enterprise from a connectivity depth perspective.”
Twenty years after completing his undergraduate degree, Somich capped his master’s program achievement by walking in the commencement ceremony.
“We drove down for it,” he said. “That’s another reason I chose Bowling Green — it has a good reputation, and it is only a couple of hours away. It was important to me that it could be a family celebration.”
Even with plenty of real-world experience under his belt, Somich gained a lot of valuable insight as a graduate student.
“You work in the corporate world and use a lot of terminology, but it’s not always how the theory rolls out,” he said. “It was great to go back and freshen up on the principles of why the theories work — especially on the finance side or with the strategy piece.
“Twenty years after being in school, there’s a lot that has improved and upgraded — especially with technology, finance, acquisitions and strategy. It’s been great to freshen up, think a little differently and balance out my approach.”
With the second half of his career on the horizon and an MBA to his name, Somich feels ready to transition to the next phase.
“This degree really opens up my options for what’s next,” he said. “I’d love a small or midsize company. I am looking forward to taking my real-world corporate experience with what I learned in this MBA to make a difference at an executive level.”
The experience of completing a graduate degree during a pandemic was especially satisfying for Somich.
“I talked about going back for an MBA in my late 20s,” he said. “I didn’t want to put it off anymore. Overall, I am really pleased with how the program turned out. The support I received from the faculty and staff was great.”
Learn more about BGSU’s online MBA program.