Tyra Johnson – President and Founder of Blue Sky Design Supply, State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) in 2005
Madame Noire: What impact has your MBA had on your career?
Tyra Johnson: I went to an evening program while working in construction project management. The company I was working for recognized I was serious about advancing my career. While being employed, I was able to use many of the soft skills we learned about during my degree program (i.e. emotional intelligent and organizational advancement). The most important skill I discovered was how to review a person’s character traits and use it to communicate with them effectively.
When starting my own business the MBA helped with credibility during start up (like pursuing business loans and my initial clients). Furthermore having a familiarity with the different aspects of business that makes a company churn was tremendously helpful.
Although I do not think a degree necessarily means you are qualified, I do think it helps you jam your foot in the door. Your work ethic is what gets the door open.
MN: What made you want to pursue an MBA?
TJ: I believe in being a lifelong learner. As long as I remember I wanted to be an entrepreneur and getting MBA was part of that plan.
MN: Given today’s economic climate, would you recommend this path to other African-American women?
TJ: When I was planning to go to grad school, one of my biggest concerns was debt. Career advancement is not guaranteed with a degree. So one really needs to consider the risk factor. I relocated to Buffalo after considering schools in Michigan. But I realized my new job and the low tuition of a State program was my best bet.
I would suggest going to grad school to invest in yourself is a good idea, as long as you keep finances in perspective.