MBA Alumni & Student Profiles

MBA Student Profile: Dr. Laura Waters

Mercy Health pediatrician Dr. Laura Waters wanted to learn more about the business side of patient care. So she did what any smart physician or healthcare professional would do and went back to school, this time for her MBA. But she didn’t choose just any MBA program. She chose Drury University’s because she knew she would get the small class sizes and individual attention she desired

Malachi Cobb

Malachi Cobb.For Malachi Cobb, earning an MBA at Drury’s Breech School of Business is about learning new concepts, challenging projects, and lively class discussion. But, above all, it’s about learning how to lead.

“My goal is to be a leader – not a boss,” Cobb says. “Whenever I’m placed in a leadership role, I will do my best to serve as an example of how to run an organization and maintain an empathetic but ever-challenging environment. Without challenge, there’s no growth.”

Cobb is getting a chance to practice some of those leadership skills with Drury undergrads who are just a few years his junior. The 24-year-old Dallas native is the residence hall director of Smith Hall, where he manages eight resident assistants, ensuring the safety and well-being of the 140 residents of Smith. He’s also the Panthers for Prevention advisor, a conduct officer, and a “Step-Up” facilitator who promotes the concept of bystander intervention for students, athletes, and fraternities.

Cobb, who earned his undergraduate degree at nearby Evangel University, says Drury’s MBA program gives him a chance to learn from experienced professors from all over the world and from varying industry backgrounds.

“There’s a unique well of experience, knowledge, and wisdom that each professor passes down to their students,” Cobb says. “The diversity among the professors is a breath of fresh air.”

Cobb says Drury’s MBA classrooms themselves are a diverse “salad bowl” experience thanks to the mix of students that include international students and professionals.

“It’s a mix of ingredients that complement each other perfectly,” he says. “The classroom demographic in age for the MBA program ranges from recent grads in their 20s to experienced professionals in their 50s. It allows for thought provoking discussions from each generation of student. Everyone comes from a different background, country, family dynamic, or work environment.”

Hands-on projects bring the classroom lessons to life. Cobb says one of the most challenging – and rewarding – came in his Corporate Investment and Valuation course. The project was assigned in the first week and unfolded as students methodically analyzed financial information to create a 60-plus page valuation of a major corporation.

“I already knew how to view and interpret financial statements as well as create my own, but the key is to present it all in way that nearly anyone could understand,” he says. “Conveying data can be difficult and tedious, but it’s absolutely pivotal in accurately and concisely communicating with shareholders and stakeholders. Ultimately the MBA program teaches me how to apply the knowledge that I have learned from my undergraduate studies in a clear and concise way.”

Still, it’s the leadership lessons that Cobb is taking to heart the most.

“A life-changing concept that I have learned during my time at Drury would be the idea that if you don’t know the name of the janitor of your organization, then you’ve lost something in your climb to the top of the corporate ladder,” he says. “I always want to ensure that I stay grounded as a leader and don’t elevate myself above others based on socioeconomic status. Drury’s MBA program helps you to refine what you have already learned in your undergraduate studies, personal experiences, employment, and personal readings. Through the struggle of applying previously learned concepts, I am refined.”

Diana Day

MBA Graduation Year 2018Diana Day.

Chief Business Officer, People Centric Consulting Group

Notable Achievements

  • 40 under 40, Springfield Business Journal, Class of 2017
  • Most Influential Women, Springfield Business Journal, Class of 2015
  • Young Professional of the Year, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, 2015

Why did you choose Drury University to get your MBA? 

Drury makes it easy for a busy professional to be a part of the program. Easy registration, convenient evening classes, and accessible parking make being a graduate student hassle free. I am able to manage working full time and maintaining my family, friends, and community involvement, while still being a MBA student.

How has the MBA program directly benefited you in your current work situation?

The reason why I wanted my MBA is to give me more access to the knowledge and tools that I need to best perform my job. The biggest benefit I have gained from the Drury MBA is the inspiration to re-evaluate and improve upon some of the things that I have been doing. It is important for leaders in business to continually ensure that they are using best practices, bouncing ideas off other leaders, and finding new ways to develop. The Drury MBA program has been a great place for me to do these things.

What surprised you the most about the MBA program?

The level of collaboration among my peer cohort is amazing. I have gained insights, shared knowledge, networked for my company, and found valuable resources all within the group of students in the classroom with me.  I am positive that I will be reaching out to them for years to come.

Advice you would give students currently contemplating the MBA program.

Just do it.  It will never be the most perfect time and there will always be things that you need to do, but this is something that you will not regret!

 Connect with Diana Day on LinkedIn!

Najem Agnew

MBA Graduation Year 2017

General Manager at Springfield Brewing Company

Why did you choose to get your MBA degree from Drury University?

I chose a large university for my undergraduate degree because I wanted to blend-in. I chose Drury for my graduate degree because I wanted to build relationships with my classmates and professors, as well as take advantage of the many Drury Alumni connections in the professional community.

What surprised you the most about the Drury MBA program? 

I was surprised by my changing perception of time. Before the program I felt my life was quickly slipping away through my fingers, from days to weeks to months. The MBA has really slowed everything down and made each day feel longer and more meaningful.  I feel like I’m using every moment and continuously being challenged to think critically. The MBA program has really re-trained my time management skills and has taught me to really utilize the limited time I have with my family.

Anything else to add?

The small class size with the ability to have meaningful and relevant conversations with engaged classmates and professors makes this program special.  I could have been one of 200 at another university, I chose to be one of 20 here.

Connect with Najem Agnew on LinkedIn! 

Clayton Perkins

MBA Graduation Year 2017

Accounting and Finance Assistant at Community Foundations of the Ozarks

Before starting my MBA, I did not actually have any experience with accounting and finance. I had been focused on Music Therapy and Behavioral Science, and decided to switch gears. After my undergraduate degree, I started working at the Community Foundation as an administrative assistant. As I was about to start the MBA program, I got promoted to a full-time finance position. I didn’t have any prior experience; it just happened serendipitously. Now, I am actively gaining experience, while I am in school.

What surprised you the most about the Drury MBA program? 

Since I had attended Drury for my undergraduate degree, I knew to expect a special one-on-one relationship with professors. One thing that really surprised me is the close knit community between MBA students and the professors. I have had professors say, “Here is my cell phone number, you can text me if you have any questions on this project.”

Second, the MBA program is not at all an easy program, but I was surprised by how much I learned in such a short-period of time. If you look at the schedule for the MBA, the program is 30 credit hours and if you are doing the two-year program, you take two, eight-week classes a semester. It goes really fast! You go in-depth on most of the material, especially in the more technical fields like accounting, finance, and economics. It is a lot of work, but you learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Advice you would give to a student considering the Drury MBA program:

My advice would be to go for it! An MBA is a sought after degree. It is valued by employers and compliments other degrees, as well.

On a more personal level, the one thing that has helped me out in the program is to just put myself out there, in business and in life in general. You can’t be scared to call somebody and say. “I am an MBA student and I was wondering if you had a few minutes to give me a couple of pointers.” The mentorship program through the Drury’s MBA has been extremely helpful in that sense. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Another reason to do the MBA program is because it emphasizes work. Drury promotes job specific skills in their MBA program, and everything has a real-world application. In the business world you can start working and making a difference with your degree, while you are taking classes. That is definitely helpful.

Connect with Clayton Perkins!

Mary Ling

MBA Graduation Year 2016

Human Resources Coordinator for Positronic

Mary Ling.

My responsibilities at Positronic center around creating Global Human Resources, supporting the HR departments around the world in 6 continents, and supporting the Corporate and Executive teams.

How has the Drury MBA program directly benefited you in your work situation: 

The Drury MBA program has taught me to evaluate situations with a leadership mindset, understand the depths of our markets, and create business plans for moving a company in the right direction. The Drury MBA program has allowed me to meet local businesses people and students who want to pursue a career in our same industries and fields.

Advice you would give to a student considering the program: If you want to learn more about working in team settings, this program will help you. When you work as a team with people from all over the world, out of all types of original fields of studies, and all types of industries, the knowledge becomes more than what is just learned in a classroom.

Connect with Mary Ling on LinkedIn!

Alumni Profiles

Jennifer Simpson DeCamp

MBA Graduation Year 2014

Learning and Training Coordinator at Abacus CPAsJennifer Simpson.

I am responsible for educating our staff, a team of 75 working in four locations, and ensuring that our training is compliant with the National Association of State Board of Accountancy and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, as well as verifying our CPAs have fulfilled their licensing requirements. I continually strive to enhance the Learning and Training Department by using innovative strategies to help maintain our firm’s position as one of the most cutting edge CPA firms within the field.

Why did you choose to get a Drury MBA?

As I researched my educational options, Drury’s MBA program rose to the surface as the cream of the crop. It was clear to me that the emphasis on teamwork and the small-to-medium class sizes allow each student to become well-acquainted with classmates and the professors. This personal interaction expanded my classroom learning. I now count multiple life-long friends and mentors among the faculty and fellow students.

How has the Drury MBA program prepared you for your professional role? 

My MBA has given me an incredible resource of relationships and contacts as well as a wide breadth of knowledge in order to make informed business decisions and recommendations. In creating a training department, I am now aware of business aspects, challenges and nuances that I may not have been privy to before. I am also now able to offer insights, direction and potential connections for new business owners.

What knowledge or skill is most critical for today’s business leaders?

A wide knowledge of global events and how they impact our daily business decisions and finances is imperative, but on a personal level, I find that the most successful people have mentors in their lives who provide examples of how to handle challenges at each level. I would encourage every leader to have several mentors who are living the life you want to live or who are on same path you want to be on. As you increase your community involvement and possibly secure a board position, you will find potential mentors who you can learn something from.

Connect with Jennifer Simpson DeCamp on LinkedIn!

Joseph Esch

Joe Esch.

MBA Graduation Year: 2012

Current Profession: Health Care Facilities Director

How did your experiences in the Breech School of Business MBA prepare you for or enhance your professional career?

All the classes in the MBA program included group projects, and in my work many projects are developed in a group. There is a lot of compromise and consensus that  takes place in the workplace and my classes in the MBA program prepared me for that collaborative environment.

Were there any specific courses that were especially useful to you?

Hard to pick just one, I will often draw from the knowledge and experiences acquired in all the classes I took. Dr. Oglesby’s instruction in accounting enabled me to understand financial reports, which allows me to budget, forecast and explain variances each month. I have annual appraisals on the anniversary date of each staff, so I reflect on Dr. Sronce’s HR class while doing evaluations. While looking at patient satisfaction scores that are compiled by surveys, I reflect on Dr. Lewis’ Statistical classes.  Every day we market ourselves, our company and brand.  The knowledge I gained from Dr. Holmes’ marketing class is invaluable in these efforts. Being a leader is a learned skill.  Dr. Prewitt’s class explored different leadership styles and gave insight and techniques to use to define and improve that skill.

Do you have any favorite memories of your time in the Breech MBA program?

I have many, but at the end of each class I always enjoyed watching others interact in their teams with present their group project. You could see those that were well-defined cohesive groups.

What advice would you offer to a new student beginning the Breech School of Business MBA program?

Enjoy your time and experiences today! Live in the moment! Know that your Drury education and the determination you have to complete your degree will pay off.

Connect with Joseph Esch on LinkedIn!

Donna Petiford

Donna Petiford.

MBA Graduation Year: 2012

Current Profession

Community Volunteer; Volunteer President, chief executive officer and official spokesperson for the Missouri PTA (a statewide organization responsible for training local PTA Leaders and for advocating for the health, safety and well-being of children and families).

We’d love to share more about your professional success with our current and future students – please describe your career path to this point as well as your current profession

My professional experience includes 17 years in retail banking, primarily as a loan officer. However, I found a passion for volunteering when my daughter (now a junior in college) was in elementary school.  At that time, I decided to “take a year off” and spend more time with my daughter and family.  That was 11 years ago and I have never looked back. I will never regret that choice that I made.  I am thankful for the support of my family and that I have been able to represent children in issues that matter in our local school district, in Jefferson City and in Washington, DC.

How did your experiences in the Breech School of Business MBA prepare you for or enhance your professional career?

Our succession plan for the Missouri PTA includes my term as President ending in October.  At that time, I will be actively looking for employment and I feel that completing the MBA will be an asset that will help round out my resume and fill my 11- year employment gap.

Were there any specific courses that were especially useful to you?

Having been out of the academic world for over 22 years, I enjoyed every course and feel like I have learned from each professor in the MBA program.   All courses emphasized teamwork and this helped us as students to be able to get to know each other.  It was an honor for me to work with other students who were at different stages in their careers and I feel that I have learned from them as well as from the professors and classes.

In addition, for the Marketing class, my team wrote a marketing plan for a local non-profit.  I was able to draw from and add to my own volunteer experiences by working on that project.

Do you have any favorite memories of your time in the Breech MBA program?

I will always treasure my memories of our trip to China and climbing the Great Wall.  That is not something that I ever dreamed of doing, in fact, I even dreaded the thought of it.  But I made up my mind to enjoy the adventure and it was amazing and eye-opening.   I loved everything about it.

In addition, our team’s case was selected for submission to the Society for Case Research 2013 Annual Conference.  Not only was it an honor to be part of the team that worked on this project, I felt the project was a great way to incorporate different aspects of the MBA program as well as the opportunity to create a learning tool for future students.

I was also part of a team that organized the event “Great Times at the Great Wall”.  This was a gathering of all Breech students (past and present) that have made the trip to China as part of the MBA program.  Not only was it fun to reconnect with fellow MBA students and share memories and photos, this also proved to be a catalyst for starting a scholarship for study abroad students.

What advice would you offer to a new student beginning the Breech School of Business MBA program?

Make the most of every opportunity while you are in the program.   Don’t underestimate the value of having an assigned mentor.  I enjoyed meeting my mentor and we bonded over lunch and by sharing our job experiences, interests and hobbies.  At one of our lunch meetings, she let me know that her company was reorganizing and that she would soon be looking for work.  She wanted to know if I would like to be assigned another mentor, and I told her that I thought this would be a valuable learning experience for both of us.  I remember we talked about how great it would be if she could make a living while doing something she really enjoyed, like scuba diving.  Today she is the aquatics director at a local scuba and swim club.  She has become more than a mentor, she’s my inspiration.

Any other comments that you would like to make about your time in the Breech MBA program?

Completing this program was a dream- come- true for me.  While others dream of travel, I find great satisfaction in learning.  This was more than a sort of “bucket list” accomplishment; it was a life-changing experience.

Connect with Donna Petiford on LinkedIn!

Dan Coryell

MBA Graduation Year: 2010Dan Coryell.

Director of Property Owner’s Relations, TLC Properties

In 2003, Dan Coryell graduated with his Bachelor in Business Administration in management and marketing and enrolled right away in a MBA program at a large state school. After two semesters of working full-time while taking classes, Dan decided to take a break from school. Going back to finish his graduate degree was always in the back of his mind, but life was busy. As an assistant manager at a rental property owned and operated by his family, Dan was busy helping with the family’s day-to-day business operations. He learned about Drury’s MBA program from a tenant who was enrolled in the program. He liked the idea of focusing on one class at a time for eight-weeks and completing the program in one year. He also loved the international business focus of the program, which culminates with a trip outside of the United States to see first-hand how other countries conduct business. Dan contacted the director of the program and started full-time in the fall of 2009.

“I wanted to distinguish myself from my peers with a top-notch business education. The skills and abilities I gained at Drury helped set me apart,” Dan says. “I had a great foundation to start from with my undergraduate degree, but Drury was able to demonstrate how to bring all of the information together. I learned how to see everything from a big picture perspective – to see how each aspect of business affects the other one and how to integrate business functions. I was prepared and equipped with the knowledge, skills and insight to view business operations from a holistic perspective. My role requires the ability to see the whole picture and the interrelated organizational segments. Through this process, my team and I can formulate specific strategic management plans and identify areas that have underperformed and need corrective adjustments.”

At first, Dan was hesitant to enroll in a graduate program.

“I had been out of school for six years,” he explains. “While at [my previous graduate school], I was just a body in a seat – there were 75 students in my class. You didn’t ask questions.”

Dan believes the personal learning environment at Drury contributed to his success as a student. “It wasn’t intimidating. Because of the intimate, personal experience and small class sizes, there was always a lot of discussion and feedback. It really facilitated my learning. With six years of real-world experience under my belt, I felt I could contribute to the discussion, but also learned a lot from the other students. There was such a diverse level of experience in the classroom – I didn’t have that at my other school.”

“I feel like I now have a tool bag of resources – I developed close relationships with the people in my classes and the faculty. I run into them out and about in the community all the time. I can call on any of them for advice or a referral in almost any field. It’s reassuring to know people who can help.”

Dan also tries to give back to others in the same way he’s received. He works with the business departments at both Evangel University and Drury University to help mentor business students and share his best-practices. He also teaches business as an adjunct instructor for a community college. “I enjoy teaching future business leaders. It keeps me plugged in and I learn new things too.”

Angie Adamick, Director of the Drury MBA Program, states that Dan “has a generous spirit and demonstrates how to live a life of paying it forward.”

Connect with Dan Coryell on LinkedIn!

Rhonda Alexander

Rhonda Alexander.

MBA Graduation Year: 2012

Event, Coaching, & Training Manager at The Great Game of Business, Inc.

“The fact that I started working on my MBA at another university, made me appreciate the Drury MBA program completely! The classes are large enough to offer plenty of interaction, yet small enough that the instructors are approachable and know your name. The program truly is user friendly for the working adult. I encourage anyone who is considering whether or not to pursue a Drury MBA, do it! You’ll be glad you did.”