When Ryan Crouse (’18, MBA) started the master’s of business administration program in Trevecca’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies (SGCS), he admits his focus was a little a little, well, out of focus.

“Getting an MBA isn’t about checking a box so you’ll receive a higher paying job,” he says. “Honestly, I started the program with a little of this mentality, but quickly learned that obtaining my MBA was much more than that.” 

Crouse’s experience quickly changed his attitude, though. Now, just a few months shy of graduating with his master’s degree, Crouse is more focused on how he can become a better leader.

“Pursuing my MBA has taught me a great deal about leadership and that leaders can’t lead unless they’re willing to serve,” he says. “I think of this often in my career, and it’s certainly impacted the way I lead others today.”

MAKING THE DECISION

For Crouse, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University (Ohio) in marketing in 2002, going back to school to get his MBA wasn’t a snap decision. It was an idea that formed over a period of years.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Crouse spent more than a decade working for Ferguson Enterprises, a plumbing wholesaler, mostly focusing on operations and wholesale management. In 2013, Crouse joined Healthcare Corporation of America (HCA) as project manager. He recently moved into a new position at HCA, clinical provider support manager, a management position with the company’s IT support team.

A few years ago, Crouse’s wife, Katherine, completed her master’s in marriage and family therapy through Trevecca’s Graduate Counseling Program. She enjoyed the experience, and it got Crouse thinking about completing his master’s.

Choosing to do so at Trevecca wasn’t a difficult decision. Crouse says his wife’s experience with the University, combined with the fact that Trevecca didn’t require him to take the GMAT and the program’s affordability, influenced his decision.

“I knew that pursuing my MBA was already going to be very time-consuming and the thought of preparing for a college prep exam was the last thing that I had time for,” Crouse says. “Trevecca’s tuition was extremely competitive compared to other MBA programs that offered a classroom experience.”

Crouse isn’t the only business professional to take notice of Trevecca’s graduate business program.

In terms of enrollment, Trevecca’s graduate business programs currently ranks fourth in Middle Tennessee, following the University of Memphis, Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Trevecca’s graduate business program became the fastest growing program in Tennessee.

The exibility of the program, with one-night-a-week classes that fit Crouse’s already busy schedule, sealed the deal. Crouse says the ability to take one class at a time allows him to focus entirely on the classwork and discussions with his professors and classmates, helping him to fully engage with the content.

“I have learned a lot in every class and have been able to apply it quickly to my current career. e professors have all been wonderful and there honestly hasn’t been a class that I didn’t enjoy,” Crouse says.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS

While earning his master’s degree will allow Crouse to advance his career, he says that what he’s learned will help him to do something even more important: help others to achieve their career goals.

“I think being able to relate to [employees] and hear from them [is important], not so much being the boss,” he says. “I want to challenge them, encourage them, but also listen to them and understand where they’re coming from.”

Servant leadership is a key component of Trevecca’s graduate programs, purposely woven into the courses. Students can expect to leave the program well prepared for management careers in the business world, ready to serve others and achieve results.

Rick Mann, professor of leadership and strategy and the director of graduate and professional studies, says that’s one of the things that sets Trevecca’s MBA program apart.

“Most MBA programs focus almost exclusively on the strategies of Fortune 500 corporations. At Trevecca, we begin with the servant leadership of our students as modeled by Jesus and then move toward the in uence and impact they can make on organizations, companies, and corporations.” he says. “It is not just talking about servant leadership; it is helping students to develop the God-given inner life and compass that can fuel on-going servant leadership practices.”

Dr. Jim Hiatt, dean of the Skinner School of Business and Technology, agrees.

“It is about flipping an organizational chart upside down and recognizing that a leader should be an organization’s ‘helper-in-chief ’ or number one servant,’’ he says, “aiding everyone to be the best versions of themselves possible and acting not out of selfishness, but for the greater good of all.

That’s true for Crouse. Now in a management position at HCA, he plans to use what he’s learned to invest in those he leads.

“I’m in a completely new role and [my team members] are the experts,” he says. “They have a ton of clinical knowledge. I want to support them to continue doing what they’re doing, but also take us to the next level.”

As for the future, Crouse will graduate with his MBA in May. Completing his master’s degree has opened up opportunities for advancement within his current company that he wasn’t eligible to apply for without a graduate degree.

He’s excited about what the future holds and grateful for his Trevecca experience.

“We have an emerging leaders program that you can’t even apply for unless you’re pursuing your MBA or have your MBA,” he says. “I applied right when I started at Trevecca, got to the interview round and didn’t get chosen. That’s on the top of my list. Now that I’m in a leadership role, having my MBA is definitely a competitive advantage.”


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