Fritz Porter has a simple explanation for why he returned to college for a graduate degree.
“You can only understand so much about the complex topics covered in an MBA program through Google searches or asking co-workers questions,” Porter said. “The solid foundation of business knowledge allows someone to make better decisions today and sustainably improve their knowledge and capability in the future.”
Porter received the solid foundation of knowledge he desired from the online Master of Business Administration with a Concentration in Finance program at Southern Oregon University (SOU), when he graduated with a 4.0 GPA in May 2021. Based on his stellar academic record, he was nominated and later inducted into the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
“I learned quite a bit on the job after 10 years, but I still had some gaps in business and finance,” he said. “I felt like I needed to learn more.”
Two months after Porter completed the program, he moved into a new position as the director of strategy and innovation at GNB KL Group, where he has worked for four years in Elk Grove, California.
“No matter what a person does in life, they usually end up in business to some degree,” he said. “Whether you’re a rocket scientist, geologist or comedian, at a certain point it comes down to business and finance — it’s a common thread through all career paths. As you move up the ladder, you want these skills.”
The asynchronous nature of the online format helped Porter maintain his full-time position while earning a degree to advance his career for the win-win.
“I liked that everything was pre-recorded,” he said. “You could study and take quizzes any time. I could come home at night and watch lectures or work with my group, and the online program had the agility to work around my ever-changing schedule.
“The flexibility is huge when you’re working full time. You have some weeks that are busier than others and some nights or weekends that have more going on. It’s nice to have an MBA program that is available when needed.”
Porter is from the logging community of St. Maries, Idaho, where he developed a love for geology. He started his first career in the gold mining industry as a geologist in northern Nevada after graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho in 2011.
“I enjoyed working in the mining industry, but I found that most mines are located in places that are lower-value property, usually in the middle of the nowhere,” he said. “My entire career was going to be in the middle of nowhere, which is something I never thought about going into it.”
So, Porter changed direction in his career path and eventually found himself in Sacramento, California, working in the manufacturing industry.
“I like to analyze things, come up with strategies and plans and lead initiatives that create value,” he said. “I gravitated toward what I do now because it’s what I am naturally good at, but I didn’t have the skill set prior to going to SOU to really shine. I was missing the foundation and the confidence.”
Porter chose SOU because the online MBA in Finance program checked all of the boxes for what he needed to make going back to school worth his while.
“I looked at online programs on the West Coast,” he said. “I wanted a school that was in one of the three coastal states — Oregon, Washington, California — because this is where I live, and I wanted a program that would have recognition here.”
Porter was keen on a school with a physical campus, but he also knew the online program format would be best for his life and desire to work while he learned. SOU was the perfect combination of both: “I continued to work full time while I was in school, which was why I wanted to go online. I didn’t want to relocate,” he said.
One of the first courses that Porter took, MBA 516: Managerial Accounting for Decision Making, was among his favorites in the curriculum.
“It was a tough class, but it was very good,” he said. “It gave me a lot of good tools. All of the classes were excellent.
“I also liked the finance concentration courses. It wasn’t like one teacher taught a different thing to the next. They integrated well together and complemented each other.”
Nuggets of Wisdom
Porter said the information he learned in the online MBA in Finance program was applicable to his position as a manager in a manufacturing company — a role he held through most of his 16 months as an online student.
“One thing I did this time that I didn’t do in my undergrad was take painstaking notes — not only for tests, but because I knew I would forget some of these things moving forward,” he said. “It’s been so helpful. Over the last four or five months, I have looked back through my homework. I pulled those tools out and used them. It’s fabulous.”
The timing of Porter’s return to school couldn’t have been better. “At the end of the day, it worked out well. COVID-19 hit in my second semester, so it kind of gave me an outlet instead of sitting around watching Netflix. I was learning and growing, which was good.”
Porter completed the experience of earning a master’s degree with a trip to Ashland to walk in the commencement ceremony at SOU.
“It was nice,” he said. “I was surprised how many of my fellow students I knew, although I never met them in person prior to graduation. Getting to know them and the professors and meeting them in person was pretty amazing.”
With an MBA under his belt, Porter is eager to continue doing what he loves with renewed confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
“I want to keep learning and enacting positive change in my world and keep doing what I’m doing. An MBA is an amazing degree to get.”
Learn more about SOU’s online MBA in Finance program.