One of the best decisions I’ve ever made

It’s been almost 20 years since the last time I was in a classroom!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me recently how school’s going. It’s been nearly a year since I returned to the classroom to pursue an MBA with Willamette University, after graduating from college nearly 20 years ago.

It’s been a very challenging year balancing my ongoing career, time with my family, a painful back surgery and the work of a professional MBA program. However, I have to say it’s been one of the best decisions of my life because I’m learning material that is applicable in the office the very next day.

For example, I had a recent conversation with a Strategic Finance colleague and could speak to the build of a Net Present Value calculation and why we may or may not want to increase the discount rate of the future cash flows given the rather gloomy economic forecast of the next couple of years. A year ago, I didn’t know what NPV meant, let alone what a discount rate had to do with it.

In my short year with Willamette University we’ve covered a lot of ground, from resonant leadership styles and the development of emotional intelligence, to linear regressions and normal distributions, to assembling financial statements and managing COGS. I could go on and we’re only a year into the two-year program.

Never too old to go back to school

The night before I started at Willamette, I wrote:

Growing up, I never liked school. It was theoretical and I wanted to get out there and “do” something real. I wanted to get out there and conquer the world. Now into my second career, hopefully a bit wiser, and certainly a lot older, I look forward to the classroom. I see the potential application of new knowledge.”

The application of new knowledge back in the office is unquestionable. However, to date, I think the most valuable element of my Willamette experience is the people. I’ve built relationships with a small cohort of colleagues that remind me of the value of diverse perspectives. We vary in age, background, experience and qualifications. Yet, together, we generate some remarkable thinking that has certainly challenged me to examine my own perspectives on a variety of issues. They’ve made me a stronger thinker.

It’s a lot of work. It’s expensive. It’s not easy. It’s tiring. I made all of these excuses for several years before I took the MBA plunge. They’ve all proven to be 100% true. And yet, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

To read about additional experiences from some of my colleagues scroll down!

Scott Burton

Director, Revenue Management & Portfolio Positioning  Cambia Health Solutions