BYU's MBA leads to IT success

If you're looking for an easy way to get an MBA—don't apply to BYU. This school challenges students with tough deadlines and real world IT projects. Here's what this school offers to both its students and the companies that hire BYU graduates.

As quality assurance manager for, Lloyd Closson compares his work to that of an architect. In homebuilding, the architect helps builders create what the homebuyer has envisioned. At the IT company where Closson works, he helps his company build the Internet search engines that clients have envisioned. Closson credits much of his success on the job to the MBA instruction he received at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.

In this article, we’ll examine how the University’s MBA program trains top-notch IT pros, and you’ll learn why these grads are what recruiters are looking for.

Learning to walk the walk and talk the talk
“In the MBA program at Brigham Young, I learned the business jargon and the technical jargon, and how to switch mindsets and fill the communication gap between business users and technical people,” said Closson.

This has proven to be valuable for, which employs two BYU graduates. Closson is in charge of Web site testing, while his fellow alum, John Ahlander, is in charge of data quality assurance.

“We are a technology company. We have hired a number of people with computer science backgrounds. But [the positions held by Closson and Ahlander] required a significant amount of management, so we wanted someone who was interested and adept at management as well as [someone who] had a technical background. These students have both. They are technically literate but more people-oriented—and have a desire to manage others—more so than our CS people,” said Dallan Quass, chief technology officer for FlipDog.

A class project turns into a career
Closson’s class projects were not only challenging; they also focused on real-world problems. Among his assignments: helping to design the technical architecture for a new computer system, writing a computer program, and completing an analysis of security in the oil industry.

One of Closson’s class assignments helped him land a new job. He analyzed the technical architecture for the FlipDog Web site and the company agreed with his recommendations. Now that Closson is an employee, his assignment is “performance tuning” the site.
MBA students complete a rigorous schedule, which includes coursework in:
  • Networking
  • Reengineering
  • Database Design
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Corporate Finance and Marketing
Team activities dominate an estimated 70 percent of the classes. Hands-on projects and case studies are used for instruction in the rest of the coursework.
Closson said the faculty’s desire to produce students that are ready to “face the challenges of the real world” leads to high expectations and tough deadlines.

“What the program teaches is how to learn and also how to adapt to the current environment you are faced with and excel in it. If you did not learn these two things early in the program you could not be successful in it,” said Closson.

Class assignments that matter
“All of the classes that I took add direct value in just about everything that I do,” said Closson.

Closson said what he learned in his corporate finance classes has helped him analyze capital budgeting decisions, such as determining whether certain testing software was worth its cost.

“The investment classes that I took allowed me to understand what outside investors desire in companies. I can then apply this knowledge to the day-to-day decisions that I make within the organization that I work for,” said Closson.

BYU’s technology classes took a practical approach. Closson learned about existing technology but, more importantly, he acquired the skills he needed to teach himself about new technology.

“Having a broad understanding of the technology gives you the ability to understand what challenges different people in the organization face. Everyone who has gone through the [BYU] program has spent many hours the night before a programming assignment was due trying to find the one bug that still exists in the program. And while some of the students may never program in their jobs, they can relate to the experiences that programmers that they manage have,” said Closson.

This is a winning combination, according to Quass. He said such employees are worth the money that it takes to recruit and retain them because of “their combination of technical familiarity and people-orientation.”

Tell us about your future educational plans. Do you need to get another degree to earn the big bucks? Post a comment below or drop us a line with a story idea.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox