Archive for the ‘Alumni Stories’ Category

In-Flight Magazines, Career Conferences and an MSGL Success Story

August 27, 2013 1 comment

In 2009 I was on a Delta Airlines flight back to the Midwest. During the flight I quickly flipped through Delta’s Sky Magazine and lo and behold, I came across an advertisement for the MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) program at my alma mater, the University of San Diego. This was the first time I had ever heard of our unique program. At the time, I didn’t think I would eventually enroll in the program and I certainly didn’t think I would end up joining the MSGL staff as the Manager of Marketing and Recruitment. The advertisement was incredibly well done and one could argue, was successful in yielding at least one student, myself.

Sean Kelley (MSGL '04) featured in Delta's Sky Magazine in 2009.

Sean Kelley (MSGL ’04) featured in Delta’s Sky Magazine in 2009.

The advertisement, which was included in a special “Distance Learning” section of the magazine, profiled one of our Alums, Sean Kelley (’04). Sean was a prior Naval Submarine Logistics Officer, Supply Chain Operations Manager at Starbucks, Product Operations Manager at Microsoft and today he remains at Microsoft as the Director of Staffing. In the advertisement, Sean offers his praise of the program and discusses what he has been able to do with the degree. The ad states that, “[distance] learning was a big selling point for Kelley, but the program’s appeal went far beyond that. The ‘remote-team’ approach was similar to working in a global corporation. He completed projects from the Seattle area with a couple in Japan, a guy in Italy and a guy in Northern California. Sean explained that “it was validating for someone like me who has lived all over the world.” He was successful in leveraging his previous professional experience in combination with his MSGL degree. “In the final month of completing the degree, I met with the head of Microsoft Diversity and she opened the door to a job for me,” he says. A lateral move, he went from Director of Operations to Director of Diversity. Two years later, he leveraged his education even further when he took the the reigns of Microsoft’s international diversity strategy. “I was able to put my deep studies to work around the world,” Kelley says. “I needed the degree to open the door, which it completely did.”

Fast forward four years from that issue of Delta Sky Magazine to this last Friday at the Service Academy Career Conference (SACC) here in San Diego. Both the MBA and MSGL Program were participating in the SACC Job Fair – I was of course representing the MSGL Program. Once we were setup at our table I noticed we were immediately across from the folks at Microsoft. Long story short, there was Sean Kelley representing the Microsoft Corporation. At this point, I had only seen Sean in the Delta Sky Advertisement. I had never met him. As the Marketing Manager, I have seen that advertisement countless times and I always think back to that flight and how his story, his experience in the Program and his success has impacted my professional trajectory. 


MSGL Graduates, Sean Kelley (left) and Brian Storjohann (’12) at the San Diego SACC Job Fair.

At SACC San Diego, there were a handful of MSGL Alums and current students who were looking to find a good fit at one of the military friendly companies that were on exhibit. I was pleased to find one of our Alums, Brian Storjohann (MSGL ’12), having a lengthy conversation with Sean. Sean was once in Brian’s shoes as a transitioning Naval Officer and there is nothing more valuable to our transitioning military folks than an established and impressive network of professionals who have ‘been there and done that’. Participating “military-friendly” companies include: Amazon, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Scientific, Cardinal Health, Chick-fil-A, the CIA, Coca-Cola, Dell, Inc., Deloitte, Edward Jones, Facebook, the FBI, FDIC, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, HP, Intel, L-3 Communications, Life Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Macy’s, McKinsey & Company, Microsoft, Northwestern Mutual, Philips, Procter & Gamble, Sears Holdings, Shell Oil Company, Target, The Clorox Company, The Hershey Company, U.S. Secret Service, UTC Aerospace Systems, Walmart and many other incredible companies and academic programs.

MSGL is going to be participating in all of the SACC events in 2014. We’ll be in Savannah, Georgia (March 6-7), Washington D.C. (May 29-30), San Diego (August 21-22) and San Antonio, Texas (November 20-21). If you graduated from one of the Service Academies and you are looking to make a transition, either from Active Duty to civilian or from another company, you need to be at one of these events. If you do attend, please stop by our table and say hello. You never know who you might meet.

For more information regarding the MSGL Program, SACC, USD/SBA Career Services, the MSGL Network or anything else related to the MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) Program, please feel free to contact me (Scott Handley) at


From Montana to Taksim Square: The Life of a Distance Learner

August 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Growing up in Montana, where small businesses (aka, Mom and Pop stores) reign supreme and ethical business was never the exception, I was searching for a graduate program that would emphasize ethics, smart business practices and maximizing profits without compromising the standards I was instilled with in my early years. So, I’m proud to say that I decided to enroll in the MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) Program at the University of San Diego’s School of Business Administration.  Due to a death in the family, I needed to stay up here in Montana during my studies, which thankfully, the MSGL program was able to accommodate by placing me on the Distance Learner route. So there I was, up in Montana, enrolled in a full-time program at the University of San Diego.

Berlin Reception

Debbie Bjerke (Cohort 57), front row center, and other MSGL Students at reception in Berlin

Studying international business and global leadership in the classroom and in my case, the virtual classroom, was only a part of my academic experience. I had the unique opportunity to study abroad with the program, which if you can, I highly recommend it. The program currently takes students to China, Germany, Turkey and Argentina. I had already studied in Argentina during my undergraduate archaeological field school, so I had to choose between studying in China and Europe. I ended up choosing to study Global Politics, Policy and Law in Berlin, Germany and Istanbul, Turkey, which would end up being the most rewarding experience during my time in the MSGL Program.

I started off my MSGL study abroad adventure in Berlin. My experience in Berlin taught me more than just international (German) business policies and law. To begin with, Berlin is an incredibly modern city, which I was able to navigate with ease, even though I didn’t know how to speak German. One of the more fascinating places I stumbled upon with my fellow students was a wine bar (Rutz) where the sommelier educated us on German wine.  Another extra-curricular experience that was incredibly interesting, but more moving than anything, was our visit to the Sachsenhausen’s Concentration Camp. In short, Berlin is one big history lesson.

Tour of Berlin

Debbie, fifth from the left, and other students on bike tour of Berlin.

After about a week, we left Germany for Istanbul, Turkey.  This was the most inspiring and eye-opening experiences of the trip due to the protests and escalating uprisings that were occurring in Taksim Square. The unrest was only about a half mile from our hotel.  Coming from a small-town, I wasn’t used to such large gatherings, especially those that are politically charged.  Standing in the middle of the protests was inspiring on many levels. Every night I fell asleep to the banging sounds of pots and pans and young men shouting.

During the European experience, I was reunited with my classmates.  As a Distance Learner, I had only met my Cohort-mates once during the first week of the program, but it was like meeting old friends again. The study-abroad experience, the high-touch academics and the distance learning technology, enabled this girl from a small town in Montana, to feel welcomed to campus and into a professionally diverse Cohort of hard-chargers and future business leaders. If you are looking for a graduate program that offers a great deal of flexibility and provides the tools to succeed, I highly recommend the MSGL program – and at least one of the study-abroad opportunities. You won’t regret it.

Debbie Bjerke graduated with Cohort 57 in early August. She currently resides in Clancy, Montana and is in the process of transitioning from a career in Archaeology to a new career in business. For information regarding the MSGL Program and/or MSGL study abroad opportunities, please contact the MSGL Marketing and Recruitment Manager, Scott Handley at  

MSGL in Austere Places All Over the World

August 19, 2013 Leave a comment

ALUMNI UPDATE: Last July we wrote a post about John Boyer (MSGL ’08) and current MSGL Student, Eli Abbott and the work they were doing for Afghan Vision Group (AVG). Since then, life has changed quite a bit for John and Eli. The two global entrepreneurs are now running KVG. KVG, in short, “is a proven provider of goods and services in austere places around the world. With a presence in the most unforgiving locations, KVG leads in expeditionary procurement with a diverse global supplier network, accurate sourcing, and superior customer service. From Myanmar to the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan to Libya, KVG is the force multiplier you need to support your operation.”. Check out their new website and facebook page. John and Eli, keep up the great work!


My MSGL Experience: Ryan Clardy (MSGL ’11) Recalls Life Before, During and After His Time in the Program

March 5, 2013 Leave a comment

The MSGL Program was one of the best decisions I have ever made but for many more reasons than just receiving my Masters Degree.  For starters, the curriculum was “real world” based, not just text book reading and the ability to regurgitate what you read.  A few perfect examples of this are the professors themselves, several of whom have had substantial success in their professional fields and are now taking an active role as educators.  Or the capstone project, where my cohort got to work with Taylor Dunn to help devise a strategy around launching their products in various European markets.  These examples were valuable to applying what we were learning in the MSGL Program to our personal professional endeavors.

Of course the best experience I had in MSGL program was the 2 weeks abroad studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  That was the experience of a lifetime!  We studied several companies, but the one I enjoyed the most was Wal-Mart Argentina.  We toured their headquarters; met with their CFO, and received great insight into the challenges that a large retailer has in Latin America and the strategies they have in place to overcome them.  Not to mention that the city, people, and culture were incredible!

Ryan Clardy (far right) is a 2011 MSGL Graduate. He was a member of Cohort 50.

Ryan Clardy (far right) is a 2011 MSGL Graduate. He was a member of Cohort 50.

I have been with Automatic Data Processing for nearly 8 years and was there during my tenure as an MSGL Student. I started as an Account Manager for small businesses right out of college in 2005.  I would work with small companies on various outsourcing service projects, but since completing the MSGL Program I have been promoted to Automatic Data Processing’s Major Accounts division where I am now the District Manager of the Central Coast of California. I work with companies now that have roughly a few hundred to a thousand employees and consult on outsourcing services to help global integration, new market entry, compliance, and the overall strategic initiatives of the company.  Having completed the MSGL Program helped me immensely in getting my promotion.

I would recommend the MSGL program to anyone, but to be more specific anyone looking to grow and differentiate themselves while they further their careers.  I had a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and rather than choosing the MBA route, I wanted something that had a little more focus on the global side of business and one that would separate me from everyone else who had an MBA.  The MSGL Program was perfect!  Not only did I establish friendships the will last a life time, experience studying abroad, learn from great professors, and get my degree, but I was able to get ahead quickly and make myself much more valuable and marketable in my professional career.

For more information regarding the MSGL Program, please contact the Marketing and Recruitment Manager, Scott Handley at  

MSGL in Buenos Aires: A Cultural Buffet

January 24, 2013 4 comments

Current MSGL Student and member of Cohort 58, Mareo McCracken, shares his experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mareo was enrolled in International Strategic Planning and Management during Intersession, 2013.  


Mareo at Wal-Mart Argentina

Buenos Aires is a cultural buffet. A place that offers wonderful experiences for all types of tastes; and as participants in the MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) Study Abroad Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in early January, we definitely got stuffed. The city has everything. Historic landmarks, magnificent architecture and of course, mouth-watering cuts of beef. The hardest part about being in Buenos Aires was choosing a different place to eat dinner each evening.  For once you choose, you were missing out on so many others! Although Argentina is located in South America, it often felt as though we were in Europe, with similar architectural styles and foods that encouraged new experiences. The Señor Tango show was one of the many highlights of the trip. By experiencing the unique culture we were able to get a better understanding of how business gets done in Argentina, specifically in Buenos Aires. The company visit to the Wal-Mart Argentina Headquarters certainly helped us gain a better understanding of the Argentine way of conducting business. It is because of the cultural richness of this massive city that our academic experience was so unique. We were able to immediately apply this newly acquired first-hand knowledge of “business the Argentine way”  to the class we were taking, International Strategic Planning and Management, with Distinguished Professor of International Business, Dr. Jaime Alonso Gomez.


Mareo (center) and other MSGL Students at Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires

We enjoyed a city tour, which provided an opportunity to visit a handful of historic neighborhoods and landmarks. Places like the new riverfront community of Puerto Madero, La Recoleta Cemetery, and the historic neighborhood of La Boca – the birthplace of the Tango. While in La Boca we saw Estadio Alberto J. Armando (or La Bombonera) where the famous Boca Juniors play soccer. We also had the opportunity to visit the uniquely colorful street called El Caminito. While a mix between the Amsterdam Row Houses and the brightly painted buildings of Pelourinho, Salvador in Brazil, El Caminito has a culture all its own. So many different shades and styles, all painted bright and combining together to create very vibrant community. Something you need to see to understand. Some of the other historic landmarks included the many theatres, famous cafes, museums, political and military houses, and government buildings.


Madres de Mayo

The most inspirational part of the trip was witnessing the “Madres de Mayo” marching around the Plaza de Maya Square. This activity is repeated every Thursday. We were lucky enough to witness it; it was an incredible experience. You could see the pain in their eyes and you could feel the determination they possessed in making sure that their children did not die in vain.

To take break from the big city we went to the outskirts of town to the Tigre River. There we had the opportunity to take a guided boat tour of the river along with the islands that people live on during the summer months. What I found to be incredibly unique is that most, if not all, commerce in this area must be conducted via watercraft. The Tigre Islands were peaceful and calm; a stark difference from the hustle and bustle of the city. As we made our way down the river, we could see children smiling and laughing as they jumped off of their small individual piers into the river. It was a nice reminder than no matter where you go in the world, if children are able, they know how to enjoy themselves.

The USD MSGL Study Abroad program in Buenos Aires was culturally and socially uplifting while stimulating each of us academically. We were able to connect with our classmates, meet new people from other schools, countries, and cohorts. We deepened our relationships and experienced new things together, all while participating in a program that encouraged us to learn and grow in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires.


Mareo McCracken (Back-Row, Center) is a member of Cohort 58 and is currently in his 2nd Semester in the MSGL Program. Mareo is the Director of Business Development and Investor Relations at the Prudent Investors Network. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The MS in Global Leadership (MSGL) Program offers three opportunities to study abroad in Europe, China and South America.

Contact Scott Handley for more details at

From China to Afghanistan: Applying MSGL Strategies to a Global Supply Chain

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

John Boyer (MSGL ’08), General Manager of the Afghan Vision Group (AVG) and current MSGL Student Eli Abbott (Cohort 57), AVG’s Chief Operations Officer, are featured in this photo that was taken last Tuesday night at the AVG factory in Kabul, Afghanistan.  Eli was in town visiting and auditing the supply chain coordination between purchasing activities in China and current inventory levels in Kabul.  Keeping this process logistically sound in a land-locked, war-torn country, according to John, can be a constant headache.  This photo was taken on one of the production floors of the factory. The other gentleman featured with John and Eli are the factory Managers.  Be safe, John and Eli.

John Boyer (MSGL '08) is featured second from the left and current student, Eli Abbott (Cohort 57) is featured second from the right.

John Boyer (MSGL ’08) is featured second from the left and current student, Eli Abbott (Cohort 57) is featured second from the right.

Success Can Be Bittersweet: A Cohort 53 Graduate Shares Her Thoughts on Completing the Program

April 26, 2012 1 comment

After countless study sessions at Starbucks, missing birthday parties here and there and constantly coordinating study sessions with my MSGL cohort mates, all the hard work is about to pay off! It seems like just yesterday I started the program.

Shane (Cohort 53) at the Great Wall of China

Shane (Cohort 53) at the Great Wall of China

Initially, my fears about re-entering academia and life as a full-time student seemed daunting. I dreaded the level of commitment and social sacrifice that comes with the pursuit of any advanced degree. Yet, here I am almost 1 1/2 years later, confident I made the right decision. Most importantly, I feel armed to excel in the professional world. The MSGL program has taught me how to commit to a project from beginning to end, how to manage my time effectively, and really how to take something positive away from EVERY experience, even if it is not exactly what I envisioned it to be. I learned how to be flexible and adaptable above all. It is bitter sweet that this chapter is coming to an end, but I am positive that whatever challenges come my way, I will be ready to conquer them head on. Cheers to Cohort 53 and good luck to all future MSGL cohorts!

Shabnam “Shane” Karimi is a graduate of Cohort 53.  During her time as a student, Shane was instrumental in the creation of a Study Abroad opportunity in China.  While abroad she enrolled in International Comparative Management and Leadership.