Taking flight in the corporate world: TMMBA alum navigates transition from the military to the private sector.
Technology Management MBA (TMMBA) alumnus, Terrell Ormson (TMMBA 2017), is a natural leader. As an undergrad at Saint John’s University in Minnesota, Terrell studied Economics and concurrently trained with the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) leadership development program. From there, he never looked back.
He served in the Army’s Aviation branch as a helicopter pilot for 11 years and held a variety of roles including leading large cross-functional teams in maintenance, operations, and support. He also planned strategic operations for aviation operations across 13 countries. Terrell had such a knack for leadership that he even taught leadership development to the next generation of aspiring young military leaders.
With a move to Washington state in 2013 and the birth of his son in 2015, Terrell knew it was time to shake things up; he looked to a career change in the private sector. To ensure a successful transition, Terrell needed to make his military background and skills both transferable and translatable to the private sector. Enter the TMMBA Program.
Terrell joined TMMBA in January 2016 and leveraged the Program to build his confidence, develop a broad business skill set and grow his professional network. After graduation, Terrell made the successful transition to Starbucks where he is currently a Senior Project Manager. In his role, Terrell leads cross-functional internal and external teams through innovative hardware and software technology projects that support new ventures and enhancements to core services.
Read Terrell’s Q&A about his experience in TMMBA and how the Program helped him transition to the private sector:
Why did you choose the TMMBA Program?
The technology focus was the first and primary aspect that attracted me to this Program. I was impressed by the professionalism and expertise of alumni and professors that I met. When I applied to TMMBA, I was in the process of a career transition following ten years of active duty service in the Army. I was looking for a program that would help me gain new skills as well as leverage my previous experience to aid in a transition to a tech-driven professional business career.
How did the TMMBA Program help you transition out of the military and into the private sector?
I thought the Program would be the perfect opportunity to help translate my military leadership experiences to the private sector, develop the right business skills to increase my marketability, and to grow my professional network. The TMMBA Program gave me all of that and more.
The professors were passionate and inspiring. The cohort-model of the Program allowed us to really get to know our peers closely and leverage the multitude of skills and disciplines. This led to deeper discussions in class and more productive projects. The focus on entrepreneurship further fueled creative thinking and engagement. I also enjoyed participating in various case competitions with the business school.
The Program led to many close friendships which I am extremely grateful for and am confident will continue for life.
The alumni network was instrumental and directly responsible for the success of finding the perfect next-position outside of the military. Every alum that I connected with was eager to meet, share their experience, give advice, and assist with searching for open opportunities. I started working at Starbucks in a Project Manager role in the Technology Retail Infrastructure team in the fall of 2017. I have been able to lead cross-functional teams on a variety of fast-moving and high-profile projects, and it’s exciting to directly see the impactful results from them. I really enjoy working with a company that moves fast, is willing to take risks, and values people and relationships. The huge variety of world-class coffee options is great too 😁.
Did you use any career resources during the TMMBA Program?
I took advantage of both individual career coaching and networking events while in the Program. The individual career coaching sessions were superb. They helped me further express my personal strengths and focus on the best next-roles given my experience. They also provided an effective roadmap to guide my career search. They helped connect me with alumni in the industries I was pursuing and gave me the tools to find others.
The TMMBA and Foster networking events are always a highlight to attend. I have actively participated in them as a prospect, student, and now alum. They present great opportunities to re-connect with classmates, as well as continue to meet people with different skill-sets and industries.
What recommendations would you have for others transitioning from the military into the private sector?
The TMMBA Program is a great way to jump-start your transition to the private sector. It provides direct-access to a large alumni network, and a foundation to learn about most aspects of business. It is a great way to “learn the language of business,” and relate military experiences to the private sector.