Whether it’s his woodworking hobby or his career, Milt Flinn has always strived to be the best.

“I did [woodworking] when I was younger, like 13,” he said. “A buddy of mine built a headboard. I looked at it and went, ‘Hey, I can build that better.’ I did, and kind of lost myself in it for a couple of years. It’s a lot of fun. And I’ve still got all of my fingers.”

As with that headboard back in his formative years, Flinn decided to improve his career. Now, Flinn will soon hold his Master of Business Administration from Baylor University with the same hands that craft his masterpieces. He wrapped up his final course in October 2016. Flinn plans to attend graduation in December where he will receive his degree.

Looking Up at the Corporate Ladder

Baylor Online MBA student, Matt Flinn and his wife Caitlan
Milt Flinn with his wife, Caitlan, in Vienna

Flinn, who has worked for consumer package goods marketing firm Crossmark, in Plano, for more than three years, said even simply enrolling in the MBA online program at Baylor almost immediately improved his career prospects.

“I felt like I needed something to differentiate myself,” he said. “I just felt like I was doing a lot at my company, and there were a lot of people getting promoted ahead of me. I felt like I wasn’t getting the visibility because several of these people had MBAs. I thought that was the determining factor that kept me out of the running. And I believe that was a very true statement.

“About a month and a half after I enrolled, I applied for a director position. And I actually got a second interview — a panel interview with a bunch of vice presidents — for the position. I definitely wouldn’t have got that interview if it wasn’t for Baylor; I know I wouldn’t have. I didn’t get the position, but they moved me into something else.”

Flinn is adjusting very well to his new role, and now that he has finished his MBA online, he believes he has set himself up for even bigger and better things in the future.

“I used to be a retail operations manager, which is managing people in the field,” Flinn said. “So, I had the Western United States, from Minnesota to Texas, and about 300 people under me. Shortly after that interview I talked about earlier, they switched me to a client engagement role. Basically, the reason I didn’t get the position is I didn’t have any client experience with the company. I switched over in May [2016], and I’ve been in this client engagement role ever since then. I’m basically setting up the work I used to manage on the other side.”

The Perfect Solution

Flinn said he had to go the online route to earn his degree without disrupting his career.

“The big thing was the flexibility because I travel quite a bit with my work, and I most likely wouldn’t have even been able to do a weekend course,” Flinn said. “Like if I’m out of town on a Friday and it’s an executive MBA program that has a Friday class, I’m not able to make it. It worked out well.”

Flinn decided to earn his degree more quickly by taking more than one course at a time. Even though it was a heavier workload, he is glad he made that decision.

Flinn has a little friendly advice about earning an online MBA: “Be prepared to do a lot of reading. That was the shocking part of it — it was an extensive amount of reading. Sometimes you’d be in the course and they would tell you, ‘Here, you’ve got to read this by Thursday,’ and it is 120 pages of textbook material. It was a gauntlet.”

Why Baylor?

Flinn almost ended up earning his MBA from another university, but Baylor’s online program came about just as he was preparing to start his degree program.

“The funny thing is I had been looking for a year-and-a-half, trying to decide where I was going to go,” Flinn said. “The Baylor MBA online program never came up when I was looking for it; I didn’t even know they had it. Somebody told me, but I said, ‘No, I know they don’t have that because I’ve been looking.’ It happened to be I started looking right before they launched this program, missed it, and lucked out that someone told me they had this program. I need to send them a thank-you note.”

Flinn enjoyed a couple of his MBA online courses in particular.

“My favorite course, based on the interaction for online learning, would have to be the Negotiations [MGT 5402] course,” he said. “The professor really set it up nicely. We had actual negotiations we had to schedule with another student. We had Skype meeting-type of negotiations online, as well. I felt like that one was the most enjoyable online experience. The course I just finished, Managerial Accounting [ACC 5420], was definitely the most challenging — in a good way. It was also done well by the professor.”

He was also impressed by the technology involved, including video.

“I know this is weird, but the thing I was most impressed with was the way [Dr. Charles Davis] had the video lectures,” Flinn said. “He stood in front of some glass thing that he wrote on that seemed like it was going backwards, but apparently the program he used mirrored it. So, he was lecturing, talking to you and writing in front of him, and it was legible because it was a mirrored program. It was very nice the way it came across.”

Flinn also said he was immediately able to apply the knowledge he was gaining in class to his career.

“There were quite a few times when I was in a meeting, and I was able to really take advantage of what I had just learned,” he said. “That has helped with the projects I’ve been put on lately. I really feel like I’m in a different spot than I used to be before I started the program.”

(Mostly) Strong Support

Flinn said his friends and family were glad to see him continue his higher education.

“They thought it was great,” he said. “One of my friends has an MBA, and he can’t believe I did it while I was still going to work. It was difficult, but everybody was real supportive.”

But Flinn, who is originally from Bradenton, Fla., earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech, one of Baylor’s Big 12 rivals in athletics.

“That’s the one thing my friends weren’t happy about,” he said.

Still, Flinn couldn’t be happier with his decision to earn his MBA from Baylor.

“People have asked me quite a bit at work about it,” Flinn said. “I’ve talked to them about everything I did and everything I went through. I did it double time, but you have the option of doing it regular speed when it takes two years … everybody seems pretty interested. It kind of comes down to ‘it’s expensive’ as the reason most people don’t do it.”

Lifelong Hobby

Flinn is still doing woodworking, building furniture and wooden cigar boxes.

“I’ve sold a few things,” he said. “Mostly what I’ve sold is cigar ashtrays — I build hardwood cigar ashtrays also. I’ve been mostly building family and friends’ furniture up to this point.”

And you can bet that each time he builds something, Flinn is out to do it better than before.

Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.