Why MBA: Villanova School of Business

Jourdan Trice took a part-time MBA

Advanced qualifications aren’t de rigeur in the construction industry, which values experience above all else. However when project manager Jourdan Trice noticed how few construction professionals had earned MBA degrees, he decided it might give him an edge.

“I realized doing a MBA would be a great opportunity to differentiate myself in the marketplace and add value to my firm,” the 31-year-old says.

Phoenix, AZ native Trice is responsible for estimating and purchasing at L.F. Driscoll Co., the largest local construction firm in Philadelphia area. He earned his first degree in construction management at Northern Arizona University and has been in the business almost a decade.

Trice, who holds a LEED certification provided by the U.S Green Building Council, is passionate about environmentally-friendly solutions in the construction world.

The LEED qualification accredits construction professionals’ knowledge of energy-saving, water efficiency, carbon emissions reduction and indoor environmental quality improvement.

But in order to share his vision more effectively with fellow professionals, Trice felt he needed more leadership skills: “I want to embed these principles in construction when it comes to leadership,” he says.

When his wife decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania last year, Trice thought the time was right to earn an MBA degree before starting a family.

However he didn’t want to study full time: “I wanted to take the main principles learnt in classroom and apply them to work straightaway, and in a full-time MBA you can’t do it,” he explains.

So Trice applied and was admitted to the part-time MBA program at the Villanova School of Business in Philadelphia. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Personal attention to students is one of Villanova’s main strengths, according to Trice. Villanova part-time MBAs are allowed to fit classes around their own work and personal commitments by choosing either the Fast Track or the Flex Track, which take 24 months and 36 months to complete respectively.

The average age in his class is 27, with seven years’ work experience, says Trice. Though it’s “not very usual” to meet international students at part-time MBA class, where everyone has a relatively established career already, Trice is glad to get an international perspective from his classmates.

“I am pleased to have met several international students with interesting backgrounds and hope to connect with more international alums in the coming years,” he says.

He is also impressed by the quality of teaching at Villanova School of Business. Instead of teaching “standard” business and financial models that will prove dated in the real world, the program content draws heavily on current business affairs.

Financing his studies hasn’t been a major concern, as a scholarship from the school and corporate sponsorship have covered half of his US$44,000 tuition.

However Trice admits that balancing school with his family life has been tough. 

“With us both putting in 14-plus hours [on] weekdays and [on] Saturdays, I suppose our biggest challenge is finding the time and energy to clean our house!” he says.

After he graduates in summer 2011, Trice is looking forward to applying the business principles he’s learnt at Villanova to his daily work in construction.

“Villanova has given me a broad business view… especially financial skills and innovative skills that I may not have developed.

“I’ve never been so challenged as over the past ten months!” he says.

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