Brandon Padden is ready for takeoff.
The financial operations analyst at Boeing graduated with a Master of Business Administration from the online program at Boise State University in December 2018. Now, he has a loftier career goal on his radar.
"I want to be the chief financial officer at Boeing," Padden said. "My mentors, executives and senior managers at the company mentioned that an MBA is a necessity to get to that point. Another benefit of earning an MBA is adding tools to my toolbox that will make me more marketable and provide me with a more well-rounded business background."
Padden, who lives in Oklahoma City, prepared for the MBA program by earning an online executive certificate in leadership and management from the University of Notre Dame in 2015-16.
"The idea behind the certificate was that I hadn't been in school for a while, so I wanted to get back into the groove of studying and taking tests," he said. "Knowing that the MBA would have more involvement, I did the certificate first. That was also my first experience with online learning and it was very positive. It gave me a glimpse and got me excited about doing my MBA online."
The online format was a must for Padden because of his travel-heavy work schedule. He liked the flexibility of dictating his course load each semester. As an added bonus, the MBA program allowed him to hone skills he uses regularly at work.
"A lot of my customers at Boeing are global," he said. "I don't have the opportunity to be next to them, like in a classroom, and work with them. So, the online format helped me improve my online communications."
Padden grew up in Tulsa with a love of numbers. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in finance with a minor in accounting from Oklahoma State University in 2010. He has worked as a financial advisor for Edward Jones and a plan compliance associate for Bank of Oklahoma.
"When I left college, I thought I wanted to take the investments route," he said. "I like playing the stock market and dealing with stocks and bonds. However, it was more sales-oriented than solution-based. So, I decided I wanted more of a corporate finance role where I'm really supporting a business. That's why I made the change from the investment world to Boeing."
Another reason Padden wanted an MBA was to broaden his horizons beyond his number-crunching base.
"It's easy to get pigeonholed into a business specialization," he said. "I have a finance and accounting background, which is what I do daily. Being able to take a step back and re-evaluate all of the things that are involved in running a business is important to me."
Padden chose Boise State not only for the flexibility of the online format but also for the university's reputation and the accreditation its College of Business holds from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
"I wanted an MBA program that was nationally ranked and had the same curriculum as if I was going on campus," he said. "That was very important to me"
Gate to Gate
Padden enjoyed all of the courses in the online MBA curriculum, but his two favorites were the first one, BUSMBA 501: Design Thinking and Strategic Management, and the last one, BUSMBA 555: Business Plan Development.
"I didn't know what to expect," he said. "Right off the bat, we were partnered with people around the country, coming up with a problem and developing solutions, like I do in my day-to-day job.
"That told me, 'Hey, this program is going to be a lot of fun. This is going to be like when I'm at work having to partner again with customers across the globe.' That course stood out with the different forms of communications and that design thinking process."
The online MBA program finished strong for Padden, who loves golfing, water sports and football.
"Business Plan Development was the hardest class, but I enjoyed it the most because it offered me the opportunity to apply everything I learned in the MBA program," he said. "It encompassed every single one of those classes to evaluate and create a business base. That was fun."
Even when Padden took a course that wasn't in his wheelhouse, he enjoyed the challenge.
"[BUSMBA 535:] Information Technology and Business Alignment threw me for a loop because I had zero background in it," he said. "It was an interesting class because it gave me a whole new perspective — that IT is a crucial aspect of running a business, which is important if I want to be a CFO. I appreciated that course."
Padden enjoyed plenty of support from his friends and family, including his wife, Lindsie, while he balanced a full-time job and 12-15 hours of schoolwork per week for 18 months.
"They knew the importance of continuing my development and what it is going to do for my future, so they were all ecstatic that I went and got it done," he said. "The goal was to get done with the MBA before we have kids. We have two dogs — a German Shepherd and a Labrador Retriever."
Although Padden did not make it to graduation after completing the online MBA program, he is just the second person in his immediate family to earn a graduate degree, after his mom. He believes the program is doable for anybody with time management skills.
"You have to be sure to map out a schedule that's workable for you and your family," he said. "More importantly, with any program or anything you do, you're going to get out of it what you put into it.
"If you go into the program and just do enough to get by and get C's or B's, you're probably not going to benefit from it like you do diving down and trying to be active in the discussion posts and with your teams. The more you're involved, the better."
Sounds like a great flight plan.
Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.
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