How Part-time MBA Studies Strengthen Post-Military Careers

By Julia Sprague

Berkeley MBA student and former naval officer LeAnn Turner

Berkeley MBA student and former naval officer LeAnn Turner (center)

Part-time MBA students typically don’t want to put their careers on hold while getting their degrees. That includes students in the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program like Tony Sgroi, LeAnn Turner, and Alexander Polyansky, who are building their post-military careers. Here’s what they had to say about why they chose business school, where their careers are headed, and why they recommend it to other vets.

Alexander Polyansky, founder & COO, NVENTI

Berkeley MBA student, entrepreneur and military veteran Alexander PolyanskyHis military career: Four years in the U.S. Army, Infantry/Mortars. Served in South Korea and the US.

His decision to go to Haas:After leaving the military, I started my own business. Its failure taught me that I was missing the basic skills needed to run a business. But instead of going right into business school, I started working as a patent examiner in the US Patent & Trademark Office. Once I decided to go to business school, it had to be Berkeley-Haas. I’ve always been entrepreneurial and its proximity to Silicon Valley is a great advantage.”

His future: “A classmate introduced me to a patent attorney at Skydeck. Four hours later, we had the idea that became NVENTI. We’re using datasets, machine learning, and natural language processing to help entrepreneurs and innovators navigate the patent process.”

He recommends an MBA to other vets because: “The military teaches a lot about the power of teamwork. Knowing how to work in teams is incredibly important in business as well, and where you go to business school makes a difference. Berkeley-Haas is all about teamwork and collaboration. It is an incredible amalgam of resources and connections. It’s my classmates, professors, coursework, and the Angel network that are making NVENTI viable.”

 LeAnn Turner, finance operations project and process manager, Google

Her military career: After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, LeAnn (Pictured above, center) served five years, ending her service as a tactical information warfare officer on a naval warship.

Her decision to go to Haas: “I wasn’t ready to give up a job I love to return to school full-time. My husband and I are happy here in the Bay Area, and with the Haas top-ranked part-time MBA program in our back yard, it was a no-brainer. Plus, the majority of my tuition is covered between the Post 9-11 GI Bill and Google. Everything told me this was the right time and place to do this. 

Her future: “I always thought I would make my career in finance, but working at Google and going to Haas have introduced me to so many other aspects of business, like marketing. At school I can learn a new subject, and Google is great about internal job changes—that’s a great combination for exploration. I’m still deciding what I want to be when I grow up.”

She recommends an MBA because: “It is a great investment in yourself. Business is so broad; it has so many aspects that those of us who’ve been in the military know very little about. Business school gives you a solid foundation across the board. It is a terrific steppingstone. Nothing but good things can come from getting an MBA.”

Tony Sgroi, plant manager, Eaton Corporation

Berkeley MBA student, plant manager and military veteran Tony SgroiHis military career: Four years in the U.S. Army, Infantry. Served in Iraq, where he earned a Bronze Star. His last position was battalion assistant operations officer.

His decision to go to Haas: “Berkeley-Haas is world-renowned. The faculty represent the best in their fields. Campus is close enough that I can attend the Dean’s Lecture Series and other events.”

His future: “In the military, someone hands you a new assignment every nine months. Now, I have choices, and in the Career Management Group, I have a great resource for advice and coaching.

He recommends an MBA to other vets because: “The military teaches you strong leadership skills, but not much about how business runs. After a couple of years at Eaton, I realized I wanted to understand the theory behind some of the things I’d been doing intuitively and to learn how to make wiser, more strategic business decisions. I’m getting that knowledge, and I’m getting more attention and respect at work.”

We invite you to learn more about the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA Program.  

 From the Military to MBA: The Berkeley EWMBA Program









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Posted on November 10, 2015
Julia Sprague
Julia is Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with more personal insight into the Berkeley-Haas and Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program experience.