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Jeff Stein Earns Master’s Degree Three Decades After Completing Undergrad

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It’s like 1993 all over again for Southern Oregon University (SOU) alumnus Jeff Stein.

“There’s been a lot of change since I did my bachelor’s degree 30 years ago,” he said. “I had always wanted to go back and do a master’s degree. My undergrad from SOU set me up for a very successful career. I wanted to refresh my education.”

Mission: accomplished. Stein graduated from the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at SOU in May 2022.

“The MBA program at SOU gave me the opportunity to go deeper into the subject matter and get current with some of the things that had changed since my undergrad,” he said. “Environmental social governance is a much bigger focus.

“The digital world was just getting started in the early 90s. I wanted to create some opportunities to make career moves, possibly in a new industry. The MBA has allowed me to land a new job in a different industry.”

Stein started a new position as director of materials management at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, Oregon, the same month he completed the online MBA program.

“I got a great education in undergrad through SOU, but I didn’t have any work experience at the time,” he said. “It set me up well for my career. I worked at the same company for 27 years in various capacities.

“I have learned a lot in those 27 years, so to be able to go back and touch on a lot of the same subjects with that foundation under my belt allowed me to go deeper into the subject matter. I had a little bigger framework to build onto.”

The online format worked out well for Stein, who was a senior director of supply chain for Erickson Incorporated, during his time in the online MBA program. He and his wife, Kim, have two sons — Cameron (18) and Nathan (17), both runners.

“The flexibility of the online program at SOU was attractive to me,” he said. “It proved quite valuable to do the work each week pretty much on my own schedule.

“I was very impressed with the design of the program. It’s designed in a way where you have interaction with other students.”

Heart and Sole

Stein grew up in Ashland, Oregon, and started his career at Erickson after graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

“When I started my undergrad, I was not sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “I took a lot of different courses. At a certain point, I took an intro to business course. I enjoyed the subject matter and the instructor, which got me interested in the business world.”

Although Stein did his undergrad in person, he enjoyed seeing a different perspective of higher learning in the online format.

“It felt like I was in a cohort with classmates and access to the instructor,” he said. “It was a very well-designed program. The technology made it easy to keep track of the work in each step of the MBA program.”

Stein chose the business analytics courses for his electives, but he enjoyed the Capstone course the most in the online MBA curriculum.

“[The professor runs] a simulation where you’re teamed up with other students to manage a shoe company against other teams,” he said.

“It was an opportunity to pull together the knowledge that had been touched on in the courses, make decisions using that knowledge and go head-to-head with other teams and compete each week. It was a lot of fun.”

Brain Power

Stein — who enjoys playing guitar, singing and spending time outdoors in his free time — credits his family with helping him stay the course and complete the online MBA program after enrolling in June 2018.

“They were excited for me,” he said. “It was a big commitment of time and energy. A lot of nights and weekends. I could not have done it without the support from my wife to handle a lot of things on the home front.

“With our two teenage boys, there are track meets to go to and band concerts. They were very supportive. It really worked out.”

Especially since he had an immediate return on investment, Stein said that earning an online MBA from SOU leads to more career opportunities for advancement.

“I absolutely believe that I got good value out of the MBA program at SOU,” he said. “Like anything, it’s relative to what you put into it.”

As a bonus to earning a master’s degree from his alma mater, Stein did well in a field test that SOU requires all MBA students to take.

“They recognize any student who scores in the top ten percent,” he said. “I scored in the top one percent with a 99th percentile. I was pleased. I wasn’t expecting that. This is a very solid program. It was a great experience.”

Learn more about SOU’s online MBA program.

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