Would you like to earn a graduate business degree that will serve you long past graduation? Look at Millsaps College for your MBA degree, says Ben Bjornerud (MBA, 2002). “I have held a myriad of different jobs since graduation,” he said. “When I first graduated, I thought I would be analyzing stocks for mutual funds until I was old and gray. Since then I have been a financial advisor, waited tables, managed a legal research team at Butler Snow, one of the largest firms in Jackson, I’ve written operating procedures for making cookies by the thousands, and now I coordinate trucks and freight for CH Robinson, a Fortune 200 third-party logistics company.
Ben was a process improvement manager at DeBeukelaer Cookie Company (“Pirouline”) in Madison, MS. “I’m actually using things I learned in operations management, finance, statistics, management – just about everything we covered in our graduate studies can impact my day-to-day work,” he said.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Bjornerud initially attended junior college in south Alabama on a golf scholarship. He was attracted to Millsaps by the low student/teacher ratio, small class sizes and its strong national reputation. There was also a well-regarded MBA program that he could complete within a year.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my Millsaps experience,” Bjornerud recalled. “It is truly a community. I am still friends with a significant number of people I went to school with, and have forged new relationships based on my alumni status.”
Like most Else School alumni, Bjornerud developed strong relationships with the faculty. “The Else School faculty was amazing,” he said. “I did have an internship and it was thanks to (retired finance professor) Dr. Walter Neely. I was the first intern that Trustmark Investment Advisors brought on board. I ended up working for Trustmark for about 10 years after graduation. I still talk to my Business Law professor and Graduate Assistant Advisor, Boty McDonald, when I run into him around town and we update each other on our families.”
Bjornerud also has some advice for prospective graduate students. “Involve yourself. Participate in class, be a graduate assistant, find an internship (the Else School staff will help), work on the Louis Wilson Fund. Do everything you can to maximize your exposure to both your classmates and the faculty at the Else School. They are such a resource.”
He also encourages students to embrace one of the hallmarks of the Else School curriculum – group work. “Every chance you get to work on a team, embrace it. If the Else School taught me anything, it’s that four heads are better than one. To this day, my management philosophy is to have as much brainpower in a planning/brainstorming meeting as possible. You need different perspectives, aptitudes and attitudes as possible in order to get the job done.”
Finally, Bjornerud said, “Keep your options open for the future. You may have an idea of what you want to do, but I would advise you not to ignore other potential career paths or opportunities that may open up for you. I have done many different things since graduation. The Else School of Management was crucial in preparing me to adapt to all these different environments and to be successful at anything I choose to undertake.”