Student Spotlight

Alumni Q and A: Terry Tate answered the call of the railroad and higher education

Terry TateTerry Tate may have worked on the railroad “all the live-long day” but he started there on a whim.  A friend encouraged him to take a job with Union Pacific when he was 19.  He expected to work there a few years and then go to back to school.  The pay and advancement opportunities kept him working and pushed college to the back burner.

Tate admits that he took the “long road” to both of his college degrees by working and going to school full time.  He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado Denver and always knew he wanted to pursue an MBA.  Life continued to get in the way of that dream.  After two failed attempts at other universities, Tate came to Brandman to earn an MBA in finance in 2014.

Tate’s roles at the Union Pacific included everything from checking the mechanical function of trains to managing business development.  He retired from Union Pacific in March 2017 after 41 years of service, but that hasn’t taken him away from the railroad.  He recently took on a new role as assistant vice president of RailPros Field Services, helping to bring in new customers and expand facilities.

How did going back to school help you/your career?
I had always wanted to get an MBA, but every time I would pursue it, something would change.  I would get a promotion, and it wouldn’t work out.  I kept the idea on my to-do list and eventually, while my son was attending Chapman University, I found out about Brandman.

I contacted an advisor at the Roseville campus and got started.  Initially, I started at the Roseville campus but moved to fully online because I was traveling so much for work.  The structure of the program was a really good fit for me. After two other attempts to get my MBA – once in the ‘80s and again in 2009 – I was ready to get it done and I did at Brandman.  I guess you can say the third time is a charm.

Who inspired you while attending Brandman?
Dr. Eckmann was great.  I had been out of school for a long time and I didn’t have a lot of writing experience beyond email.  She would take the time to point you in the right direction and help you along the way.  She was a big help during my final capstone paper.

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult?
I am a firm believer you can never get enough education.  My advice would be to make the time and go for it.  Now with the access of online education, there are no excuses not to pursue your degree.  I wrote papers on airplanes and in hotels while traveling for work.  I am a big proponent of the online experience.

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University?
The time went by fast!  I figured it would take a year and a half to two years.  I doubled up on some classes to make sure I finished in two years.  I was able to do that by looking ahead and planning my courses in advance.

What would you have done differently?
Honestly, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.  My time at Brandman was a very enjoyable experience.  I learned a lot.  Although, I wish I could have done it a long time ago.  Thankfully, my son when to Chapman, and I found out about Brandman.

What motivated you while going back to school?
I read a lot more than I did before starting the MBA program and it created a thirst for knowledge.

One thing that helped me while in school was I went out and got subscriptions to popular publications such as the Harvard Business Review, the Economist, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Washington Post and the LA Times.  This gave me access to all the case studies and articles so I could continue researching what I learned in class.

Do you have any final thoughts?
Brandman has a great program.  I would encourage everyone to go for it!

This is the fourth in a monthly series of conversations between Shannon Cimino, Alumni Relations manager, and alumni from Brandman University – Chapman University College. 

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