It might seem unusual for an experienced chief financial officer to pursue an MBA, but that's what Eric Davis did. He had two good reasons for enrolling in Baylor's online Master of Business Administration program.
"One reason was I just felt I needed it to remain competitive and wanted a bit of a refresher," he explained. "The second is I have a 10-year-old daughter [Allie] and I'm trying to set a path that, hopefully, she will follow. We live in San Antonio, so Baylor is right up the road from us."
Davis, who has been CFO for Seno Medical Instruments for more than one year, graduated from the Baylor online MBA program in December 2017. Prior to that, he had already earned one master's degree -- a Master of Science in Finance from Madison University in 2004.
"I had some online classes at Madison, so I was accustomed to it a bit," he said. "It actually worked out very well. The Canvas solution Baylor has for the online portion is a great tool -- it's very easy to use and navigate. Even the discussions and the conferences seem to go off without a hitch. All in all, it's a really good LMS."
Davis was also impressed by the Baylor faculty and staff, which regularly provided him with assistance from registration to graduation.
"[Baylor assistant director of graduate student services] Mary Reinhardt has been Johnny-on-the-spot," he said. "It didn't ever seem to matter what time of the day it was -- she was always responsive and great at troubleshooting and problem-solving. She's kind of the glue, I'm sure, that holds that program together."
Career Roller Coaster
Davis grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and initially started college at Clemson University as an engineering major to follow in his father's footsteps. He came home to complete a Bachelor of Science of Business Administration in Management at the University of Tulsa in 1995.
"I very quickly decided that engineering was not for me," he said. "When I graduated with my undergrad, I went into accounting. I kind of got sucked into an operational role not long after that. I was working for a manufacturing company in the oil industry. I went down the ops path for probably 10 years."
Once Davis did not see enough room for advancement in that field, he returned to accounting. He has served as CFO for three different companies since 2010.
"It's been a wonderful path — such a blessing," he said. "I absolutely love what I do. Going to Baylor and getting this additional degree, hopefully, will cement that for the rest of my career."
One of the biggest reasons Davis chose Baylor was because of the university's faith-based message.
"Honestly, it was just having a good Christian backing," he said. "There are so many things that are being taught now, so I wanted to have a good foundation. I wanted a path for my daughter to follow, and that it was the right path."
Davis found that the online MBA curriculum immediately helped him enhance his career performance.
"I was really impressed," he said. "Each course had some level of applicability to my daily operations -- anything from marketing and how to go about segmenting to ethics training and ways to look at things from different perspectives to finance accounting. I don't think there was a favorite course, per se. They all contributed equally."
The biggest key to success for Davis in his return to higher education was the help and understanding from his wife, Kelly, and their daughter.
"My wife was very supportive from day one," Davis said. "I don't think either one of us really understood the level of attention and commitment it would take. She allowed me enough time to get everything done. My daughter was also very understanding. It kind of compromised some of the time we normally spend together, but I'm definitely making up for it now."
Davis, who spent 12-22 hours a week on school, needed some time to work his way into a routine after he got a sense of what the workload would be like.
"It was very challenging," he said. "The first couple of courses were really kind of a rude awakening. I had to quickly adjust."
He did just that by making time for school around his busy executive schedule.
"I normally get up pretty early and go to the gym, so I just decided to get up earlier so I could get to work a couple of hours earlier than anybody else," Davis said. "That was really time I could focus on school. Then, I could complete a workday, go home and hit school again. It required a lot of patience from my wife and daughter for the last 12 months."
As a result of his commitment to excellence, Davis was recently inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma and attended the ceremony at Baylor in November 2017.
Davis believes it is crucial to understand the commitment it takes to earn an MBA before enrolling.
"We don't get to see anybody else's grades, but we do get to see the min, max and average," he said. "There were many times I would see the minimums were very, very low. At times, you would see the average being pulled down pretty significantly.
"I would say if you're going into a program like this anticipating that it's going to be a cakewalk, then you're sorely mistaken. You're going to waste your time and your money or somebody else's money. If you're going to go after this, you need to be committed. You need to set aside the time. It takes effort. It's not something that's simply going to be awarded."
Now that he is finished with school, Davis can get back to working on the land he and his family own, enjoying San Antonio, and watching his daughter continue to grow up and, hopefully, someday too graduate from Baylor.
"We've lived in a couple of other places, but we feel l like this is home long term," he said. "We really like this place. You have all of the opportunities and commerce of a big city, but you've also got the mom-and-pop-type feel."
Although he was not able to attend graduation because he was out of town on a trip, Davis is extremely pleased with his decision to return to college.
"I received solid value from the program," he said. "A little more than I expected, actually."
Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.
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