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Combine Discipline With Education to be Unstoppable

Navy Officers and Enlisted

Why I decided to pursue an MBA after gaining military experience.

Name: Marty Swafford, US Navy 

Education: David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah 


Why did you choose to get an MBA? 

The inspiration to go to business school grew out of a long wait to see a doctor after a snowboarding accident in Utah. I was convinced that emergency rooms could run more efficiently. Coincidentally, the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business was starting a program that combines an MBA with a master of healthcare administration. For me, the dual-degree program was ideal for blending my military training in process improvement, interest in economics, and determination to keep others from waiting long hours in an ER. 

How do a military background and MBA improve career prospects? 

When you have the kind of military discipline that makes you say, “I’m going to get this done no matter how many hours I have to put in,” you’re light-years ahead. By combining all that discipline with a top-notch education in business, you can become, in my opinion, almost unstoppable because nothing scares you. Nothing. That focus and drive, combined with that education, are hard to duplicate. 

Any advice for others? 

Make sure your resume is accurate and robust. Tell them exactly what you did in layman’s terms. Leave out all the acronyms, obviously, but don’t be afraid to tell them, “Hey, I was a unit supervisor on an F-18 Hornet maintenance team.” The skills you’ve gained in the military mean a lot. Apply to “dream” schools. I thought I didn’t have a shot to get into the U of U’s business school, which is one of the university’s most competitive programs, because I didn’t have business experience. But after talking to individuals who work for the graduate admissions program, I heard I was one of their top candidates.