Hometown: Westfield, IN
Undergraduate University: Purdue University
Class Year: 2015
Major/Minor: Selling & Sales Management
John Maxwell was building a lucrative career in sales and pursuing a part-time master's degree program when his academic demands came to a tipping point with his professional life.
"I was pursuing a master's in project management through an online, part-time, distance education degree program. I was about halfway done with it. I was trying to manage part-time school on top of work, which was 40-50 hours a week, and it was really pulling me in a bunch of different ways," he explains.
John ultimately decided to invest in finishing his degree at a full-time program, specifically one that was geared towards enhancing his soft sales skills and allow him to fully immerse himself in an environment where he could learn the hard skills he would need to pursue a career in finance and leadership.
"I knew I wanted to pursue a sales job coming out of undergrad. It's where my passion was. But after being in the field for a few years and having some success, I realized that I was missing some of the hard skills I would need to get a leadership role further on down the road. I knew I needed to get more financial and operations knowledge and more technical knowledge if I want to become a leader within an organization," he says.
He was hesitant about going to a school with a significantly smaller student population than Purdue because he was accustomed to a much larger academic environment. But after setting up an on-campus visit through the Admissions Team, he knew William & Mary was the right fit for him.
"I got to sit in on a classroom, and a student showed me around. Being able to see him interact with all of the people—from all walks of life, and from every corner of the globe—and have this rapport with them, it really meant a lot to me," he explains.
John has experienced similar personal connections since starting the program, specifically with the faculty members he's had.
"Every single teacher that I've had up until this point has been so unique and so helpful. They've exceeded every one of my expectations. There isn't a teacher that is coming here to check the boxes, give you your material and move on. Everybody is really invested in you and how you perform," he says.
During the summer break between classes, John interned with EY in Houston, Texas. He credits the Graduate Career Management Center (GCMC) staff for playing an instrumental role in him securing that position.
"My career advisor spent twenty minutes with me flipping through LinkedIn to see if he knew anybody in the EY office in Houston. Sure enough, he came across someone he had grown up with, who was a William & Mary graduate. He reached out to him, and then I reached out to him, and I was fortunate enough to interview with him while I was at EY. I honestly think that played a big role," he explains.
After he graduates with his MBA, John plans to leverage his skills and the William & Mary alumni network into a career at an industrial company with hopes to work his way into the C-suite. Until then, he's looking forward to the effects the remainder of the program will have on his professional development.
"You'll see in our program that everybody is so different and ultimately adds to everybody's learning experience. It's completely transformative, and you get exactly what you put into it. I've already started to see myself change and transform in the way that I view business. I've learned a lot about teams, operations, and how to view organizations through many different lenses. I think that's how the MBA is going to help me guide my career path in leadership," he says.