After Andy Hohwieler graduated with a bachelor's degree, he had to choose between a job and a master's degree.
Five years later, he had both.
Hohwieler is a business unit manager for the Scoular Company, a 125-year-old, Nebraska-based agriculture firm. He graduated from the Boise State University online Master of Business Administration program in 2016.
"It had always been part of my academic goals to go back and get an MBA," Hohwieler said. "I really debated when I was leaving undergrad whether to continue right in or go work. I don't have a good reason why I ended up doing it the way I did, but it seemed like the best choice at the time to go to work. Looking back, I'm glad I did."
Due to his work as a commodities trader, Hohwieler has relocated several times in the last six years. He has lived in Omaha, Nebraska; Charleston, South Carolina; and Twin Falls, Idaho, where he currently resides, twice.
"After I got settled in one office and the job and the trading market were a little more familiar and established, I refocused my efforts on school and starting my MBA," he said. "It has made me a better employee, a better manager and a better strategic thinker."
Hohwieler is also excited about the future of the agriculture industry.
"I'm happy with what I'm doing now," he said. "I want to continue to grow. I work for a very good company. I think the world of agriculture is in as big of a mode change as any. There are a lot of reasons why, but our sector is poised to really change in the next 10 years. Working for the company I do, I think we can be nimble enough to adapt to those changes."
Sowing the Seeds
Hohwieler, who is from Nebraska, has some farming and ranching in his background, but he was primarily exposed to trading through his father's grain company. He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics in 2011.
"Going into commodity trading had always been a goal for me," he said. "Agricultural economics seemed like the best degree to give me exposure to those companies and that line of work and give me the business foundation skills to grow from it.
"Agricultural commodity trading is just like anything else -- a lot of numbers. You could be trading corn or wheat, oil, stock or selling iPads. It doesn't really matter. It's just about doing it as efficiently as possible, capturing more market share and serving your customers the best you can."
Once he decided to return to higher education, Hohwieler planned to enroll in an on-campus program part-time, which led him to Boise State online.
"It seemed to make the most sense when I was looking," he said. "Boise State was close and offered the part-time option. One thing led to another, and I ended up doing the online program. The online format helped -- it was the best fit for me. Part of the reason I went back when I did was I didn't want to do it when I have a family. All in all, it worked well to balance both work and school."
The biggest benefit of the online MBA program was the perspective it gave Hohwieler to become a better leader by harvesting a bounty of skills.
"I like the well-roundedness and the diversity of work," he said. "I don't want to do the same thing for 10 hours a day. As I look for jobs or advancement, that's going to be a huge priority.
"One of the biggest things the MBA opened up for me is there's so much more to managing and running a business than just what I was doing day in and day out. I found enjoyment in a lot of the different aspects that are expected of you when you take on more management responsibilities."
BUSMBA 515: Corporate Finance was the most applicable course in the curriculum for Hohwieler.
"Having a business degree or an economics degree in undergrad, that was something I missed or didn't get enough of, so I was able to pick up my lack of understanding through that course," he said. "The other 80 percent of the courses were very worthwhile. There were some parts I struggled to get real engaged with, but for the most part I can say that I found two or three things about most classes that were beneficial."
Hohwieler, who enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing and hiking, is happy he earned an MBA online from Boise State -- especially since education is a high priority in his family. His father also has an MBA, and he has a brother who is a doctor and a brother who is a lawyer.
"It is a sacrifice, time-wise, financially, where your focus is -- all of those things," he said. "You have to prioritize. During school, that was no exception. I recently read an article in the Financial Times about the benefit of an MBA. I agreed with most of what they published."
After completing the program and attending graduation, Hohwieler believes the most important thing for any potential MBA student to know is what their big-picture goal is.
"I had a young man working for me the last six months, and he was debating doing something like going part-time online or taking a leave of absence from work and going on to a top-tier full-time program," he said. "If you're in a good job, you like what you're doing and you don't want to jeopardize or pause or potentially leave a good company, I think this is a good program for that. It was a good outlet to get my degree."
Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.
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