The Oregon Executive MBA is “not a theoretical exercise,” or something to simply store in the back of your mind, according to Reynolds Holmes, MBA ’21.
As a working professional, Holmes appreciated the practical nature of the Lundquist College of Business’s Portland-based Oregon Executive MBA program.
With a bachelor’s degree from Yale and a background in electrical engineering, Holmes was deep into his career when he chose to go back to school. When the company he worked for was purchased by Tesla, his role changed, orienting his work more toward business dynamics rather than strictly engineering concerns.
Holmes is a self-described trial-by-fire guy and was able to pick up some core business principles on the job, but “there was a gap,” he said, which piqued his interest in an MBA.
“Without the proper rooting in the fundamentals,” he said, “it’s hard to play catch up. I wanted to go back to school to beef up those business chops.”
Throughout the program, Holmes continued working remotely for GAF Energy, a California-based solar-panel roofing manufacturer. During his time as a working student, he was promoted twice at the company and became the youngest vice president in its history.
In this way, Holmes received a quality education that was also actionable. He’s already taken many things he’s learned in the Oregon Executive MBA program directly to the president of his company—for instance, the value of targeted research and development in keeping up with an ever-evolving market like renewable energy.
Or as he puts it, “Not just if something is feasible, but whether it’s a good idea.”
Holmes said he chose the Oregon Executive MBA program on the strength of the in-person instruction, unlike other MBA programs designed to be completed virtually.
For this reason, when COVID-19 moved Holmes’ coursework online, he considered informing his cohort he would delay finishing the degree until face-to-face instruction could resume.
But he’d already built many close relationships with his team in year one, so he decided to stick it out. And he’s glad that he did, earning his MBA and gaining a sense of community he otherwise would not have had.
For Holmes, that’s one of the most important takeaways from the entire experience.
“I am grateful for the community we were able to build,” he said. “That carried me.”
—William Kennedy, Lundquist College Communications