Shannon Gregory

CEMBA Provides Veterans with Business Tools Needed to Succeed

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

After serving for nearly 25 years in the military, Shannon Gregory was ready for a second career.

He wanted to do something rewarding. His next career needed to have a high level of impact.

In order to achieve this goal, Gregory drew on the leadership skills he mastered while in the U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard.

He chose to enroll in the Carlson Executive MBA (CEMBA) program because of the University of Minnesota’s connections to the business community in the Twin Cities, its career services, and the seamless transition from the military to the corporate world.

“As I started thinking about retiring from the service, the CEMBA program really became a no-brainer,” he says. “I wanted to transition out of the military with a good, steady education to be a senior leader and CEMBA was the way for me to gain not only some leadership experience but also to learn critical business skills at the same time.”

A Sense of Service

Gregory originally joined the military right out of high school. At the time, he didn’t think he was ready for college.

During his 25-year military career, Gregory was deployed overseas five times in 15 different countries. He worked in a variety of leadership roles including as a Commanding Officer where he managed the safety and operations of a medical evaluation unit that was responsible for urgently moving wounded soldiers to hospitals.

In the military, he was not only able to develop as a leader, but he was also instilled with a high level of pride, motivation, and dedication to doing hard work.

“I learned quite a bit about managing people and managing expectations,” he says. “There’s no doubt that my time in the service was the most rewarding work that I have ever done.”

“As I started thinking about retiring from the service, the CEMBA program really became a no-brainer. I wanted to transition out of the military with a good, steady education to be a senior leader and CEMBA was the way for me to gain not only some leadership experience but also to learn critical business skills at the same time.”

Making the Important Connections

As he pursued his MBA, Gregory was drawn to the CEMBA program because it’s tailored to the executive or intermediate leader looking to take their next step.

Once he joined the program, Gregory says he found the cohort experience incredibly helpful--progressing through the program with the same group of students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and industries. Over the course of the program, lifelong friendships were formed.

“That cohort ended up being the best group of friends I’ve had in a long time,” he says. “Being in the military, you hang out with others quite a bit, but the cohort was a tight group of people that you can speak intellectually with or personally with.”

Gregory also utilized the school’s Graduate Business Career Center to help him prepare for interviews and strengthen his resume, along with making connections to the various companies who recruit Carlson School students.

“It’s really given me a leg up, but more than that it’s given me an exceptional base for people to lean on,” he says. “A great network, really, in all industries in Minnesota.”

Those connections have helped Gregory as he transitioned into the workforce. No matter which job or which role he has, he’s always looking to connect with Carlson School alumni in his organization.

“There’s a certain level of individual that comes out of the school and I’m always looking for fellow alumni and want to reach out to them,” he says. “That’s really important to me. I want to continue to bring passion to the school.”

A Top Military School

Military Friendly ranked the Carlson School MBA programs as the second best in the nation in the category of graduate schools. Several years ago, the school established the Military Veterans Initiative, a program to attract more veterans into the MBA programs.

“In the state of Minnesota and beyond, it’s known as a very great program for building business leaders,” he says. “Generally, military folks already have the military part, but what they need now is some business leadership.”

Now, after a stint with Target as a senior corporate security manager, Gregory now works at Xcel Energy as a program manager for enterprise resiliency. He and his team are responsible for managing the company’s crisis plan if there were critical situations such as power is lost to a large part of the grid or there’s an issue at a nuclear power plant.

Invest In Your Career

This article appeared in the Spring 2019 alumni magazine

The Twin Cities is a corporate headquarters powerhouse. In this issue, we explore why that's the case.

Spring 2019 table of contents