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An MBA His Way

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Leslie Martinez is the son of immigrants and the first in his family to earn a college degree.

He recently returned to school to earn his MBA from Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business. Why now?

Why did you want to go back to school and get an MBA?

I always wanted to receive the highest degree of education in business to pair it up with the skill sets that I have acquired in my industry over the years. By combining the two, I knew it would help me be better rounded and give me the confidence that I need to tackle bigger roles and projects that I would not otherwise approach.

On a more personal level, as a son of immigrant parents, I’ve always felt a great duty to take advantage of the opportunities provided to me by their sacrifices. Being the first in my family to receive an undergraduate degree and now achieving my MBA is one way of showing my appreciation to them.  

How did you enlist the help of your family? Was their support important? How did they help?

I am fortunate that my wife is a big advocate for higher education as she graduated from The University of Arizona herself. We also discussed pursuing an MBA very early in our marriage, so when the time came to make a decision, we sat down and discussed my goals and our expectations of each other. She offered her advice and how she could help me through the process. My wife came up with the idea of designating an area for me to go and study when I came home from work to avoid distractions and focus on my schoolwork while she took care of our three children. It was also great to discuss what I was learning with her.

How did you balance your responsibilities of work, family, school, etc.?

I dedicated a great deal of time reviewing each course syllabus and updating my calendar regularly. This allowed me to plan ahead and designate “school time” while looking for pockets of time where I could relax and enjoy time with my family. I am fortunate enough to have in-laws that own a cabin in Cascade, ID which provides an outlet for escape and to hit the reset button. I found that small breaks and vacations helped propel me through the rigorous demands of my studies and professional career.

How has your degree benefitted you both personally and professionally?

I enjoyed the fact that the courses offered through USU’s MBA program focuses a great deal on self-awareness and how to develop exceptional leadership skills. My approach to teams or group work situations has improved vastly, which has led to successful relationships and more productive interactions in my profession. On the other hand, many of the courses challenged me to expand my analytical and problem-solving capacities. In logistics, this is an essential attribute to have in order to adapt properly to the constant changes and challenges that come with this industry.

What tips could you share with others contemplating returning to school later in life?

As I mentioned earlier, it is important to have a discussion with those close to you so they can support you and understand your situation for the next two years. It is equally as important to have a conversation with your employer to learn more about the value of an MBA and how that fits into your future, both from an advancement standpoint and financially. This is a big investment of time and resources; you want to make sure you feel confident that you have support from the right people.

As told to the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business
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