Circular head shot portrait of Kellen Sullivan on a green background with topographic lines

Embracing Change

Change can often be uncomfortable, but to be stagnant is to remain complacent. After 15 years leading operations for businesses in the hospitality industry, Kellen Sullivan felt he had peaked in that chapter of his career. He wanted to challenge himself in other industries, but when he started to explore opportunities, he found that an MBA was essential for many of the positions he was seeking. 2020 gave him the opportunity to research graduate programs, where he discovered the Oregon MBA and its sustainable business practices specialization.

Now one year into his degree, Sullivan has already gained skills and knowledge that have made him more confident in his decision to pivot. From his previous experience, access to networks, career guidance from alumni, and exposure to multiple facets of business, he’s able to tackle new challenges with a more holistic approach.

“Prior to my time here, I was often leading business units that were experiencing challenges or in difficult operating environments. I’ve found much of the focus of sustainability to be centered around people and change management, and I’m able to draw parallels to many of my experiences in markets across the country,” he said.

Sullivan came to Oregon ready to challenge himself and achieve new goals, the latter of which he has significantly focused on since matriculating at UO. Thanks to the program’s coursework and his cohort’s diverse viewpoints, he’s gained a new perspective about the broader business landscape he felt like he was previously lacking.

“There is an increasing awareness to reassess business risks. Whether this is due to the regulatory environment, social pressures, or recognition of finite natural resources, a demonstrated proficiency in sustainable business practices can be a differentiator for people or organizations that choose to embrace it,” Sullivan said.

While he knew the program itself would be challenging, Sullivan never expected that by enjoying the work he was doing and the people he was working alongside, he would unlock the ability to operate in a higher gear. After this surprising journey of self-discovery, he is now confident in his decision to leave one chapter of his career behind in order to open a brand new one.

“I chose the two-year program because I wanted to make sure I was able to get the most out of my experience here, but also because I needed to shift my approach to work. I don’t think I would have had the same caliber of experience or connected with the same quality of people that I’ve been exposed to here at UO at any other institution.”

—Makenzie Fancher, MBA Class of 2023