MBA of Impact Spotlight: Meet John Burt
In this Spotlight series, GMAC showcases successful MBA alumni of color who agreed to share their personal journeys to earning their degrees and achieving career success. As each path towards an MBA is different, each graduate's story is also unique in how they have leveraged their MBA experience. We hope these professionals of color inspire you to think about how to master your unique career path and journey.
MBA of Impact Spotlight: Meet John Burt
In an MBAs of Impact webinar, which featured a panel discussion among successful minority MBA graduates, panelists talked about their MBA experiences, how and why they chose a career in business, and how their graduate business degree shaped their careers and personal lives. We ran out of time before they could answer all questions from the audience so we asked the panelists to follow up afterward. Here's what they had to say.
- Job Function: CEO and Co-founder
- Name of Company: The JumpStart Advisory Group
- BBA, Finance and Real Estate, Indiana University Kelley School of Business
- MBA, Business, Duke University The Fuqua School of Business
Q: Each of our panelists mentioned that their MBA experience changed their career in some influential way. For example, you said that you wanted to start your own business and become an advisor/business consultant, which is what drove you to get your MBA. Could you please expand or describe in further detail what impact your MBA experience had on growing your career (i.e. in maximizing different business opportunities and in starting your own organization)?
People pursuing advancement and continuous improvement have to consider the What, Why, How, and When as part of the process. Broadly speaking, pursuing an MBA for me was about the transition to becoming a trusted adviser, problem solving, exposure to new people/concepts/experiences, and a platform to decision-making that had significant implications.
Notice, I did not have a specific job mentioned. My goals could be achieved in a variety of ways during the MBA experience and afterwards from a career and life standpoint.
Graduating from Duke entering the management consulting industry with experiences at the Boston Consulting Group and Booz Allen Hamilton over an eight year period provided a platform for me to continue growing as a business person, make an impact, develop tremendous relationships and enjoy life.
Spending most of your day-to-day time in an environment where the people are exceptionally sharp, the clients are exceptionally sharp, and the firm invests in developing people while delivering impact is a great experience.
There is a spillover of the skills accrued in other aspects of life like how you manage your time, trade-off decisions with your family, determining what your priorities are, maintaining relationships, how you measure things from an accountability standpoint, etc.
I am happy to share examples of what this means, but along the way I have been blessed to co-found multiple companies with a focus that is important to me such as the JumpStart Advisory Group. Additionally, I have served on advisory boards with each of my academic institutions including Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Minority Alumni Board and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Dean’s Council. Engagement as an advisory board member for the Oaks Academy and Ron Brown Scholars also fits with my life purpose. Serving as an advisory board member for start-ups and as a judge for business case competitions has been a lot of fun as well.
Q: Some of the mentors and coworkers I have talked to have this notion that after some point, the MBA is not necessarily financially "worth it" anymore. For example, if you are making over $100k, it probably won't be worth quitting to go to b-school full time and trying to land a job that will be paying around the same range. What are your thoughts/advice?
As someone with experience and a degree in finance, I appreciate the idea of ROI. People should absolutely consider the economics of the opportunity cost, absolute cost, and what is expected in return for the tradeoff.
Not to get too technical, but I encourage people to apply basic business concepts to personal finance such as looking at your personal income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. Making a $100k salary sounds cool, but think of how much of that you actually keep, save, or invest. Regardless of your income level, we probably all know people who are miserable in one way or another with no path to change.
With that said, I encourage people to set aside the numbers for a minute and consider:
- What are the priorities and indications of self-investment?
- Are you satisfied and happy with your current career and life?
- Are you satisfied and happy with your career and life plan?
- Are you satisfied and happy with the trade-offs you make frequently?
Q: How did you research financial aid opportunities and can you recommend resources for those interested?
In this day and age, there are various options to fund the MBA experience. Most MBA programs do a good job of highlighting different options specific to their MBA program. It can vary from partial to full tuition financial support.
Some employers will “sponsor” staff to pursue an MBA. Some prospective employers will offer scholarships or employment with some terms with financial upside.
Q: Is the MBA worth it? What has been your experience of hearing opinions among peers/colleagues/in the workplace between those who have an MBA and those who don’t?
I have strong relationships with hundreds of people and know thousands of people who have attained an MBA…I am yet to come across anyone who did not view the MBA experience as worth it!
Keep in mind the diversity of individuals who pursue an MBA. The backgrounds will vary, the goals on “why get an MBA” typically has some traditional themes, but the outcomes sought will vary as well.
The beauty is that each individual can define if the MBA has been worth it based on their own terms.