Alumni Q & A: Keith Freeman learns to lead with an MBA
Keith Freeman took his passion for health care and helping people and turned it into a successful consulting business with what he learned while earning his MBA from Brandman University. Freeman has a storied career holding many positions including director of business development, branch manager at a nurse staffing agency and top turnaround specialist for mergers and acquisitions. He came to Brandman to earn an MBA and a graduate certificate in organizational leadership in 2015 after launching his own business in 2010.
As a strategic consultant in Orange County, California, Freeman runs his own business, Sixth Sense Solutions, focusing on small organizations in the assisted living, hospice, and home health field. He credits his degree with helping him apply leadership concepts and theory to help his clients succeed and give him a competitive edge. He believes proper health care can make a positive impact on seniors by allowing them to live longer, healthier lives. He is also one of the founding members of the Brandman University – Chapman University System Alumni Association.
How did going back to school help you/your career?
I didn’t realize how ingrained I was in my own thinking. Going back to school helped me get out of my comfort zone. It helped me get past the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ mentality. I learned that I needed to innovate personally, professionally and to help other become more innovative. This required me to do something different and take risks. After 10 years of experience, I knew I wanted to pursue a master’s degree and the sense of accomplishment was big a factor for me.
Who inspired you while attending Brandman?
Many people inspired me while attending Brandman. My friend Brian Fazio was in my same cohort and he was battling serious health challenges. Also, my professors, Connie Phillips and Dr. Helen Eckmann, were two very accomplished, highly educated women who built successful consulting businesses all while teaching at Brandman. I learned a lot from them both of them. I still keep in touch with Connie Phillips who is one of my mentors.
What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult?
I would encourage students to pace themselves. I had to learn how to learn all over again. For example, my very first paper in the MBA program, I didn’t think to double space the paper. After that, I realized that reading directions and asking questions of the professor was really important. Also, take advantage of the resources offered to you at Brandman and ask yourself what you want to get out of your program.
Did anything surprise you about Brandman University?
I was surprised to learn how much I didn’t know. Learning about organizational behavior and why people do the things they do was really eye-opening for me. I learned to challenge my own assumptions of why people make certain decisions. This has helped me in my career by allowing me to have uncomfortable conversations and ask the hard questions to get to the root of a problem. Also, the level of professionalism from the students and staff was a welcomed surprise.
What would you have done differently?
I would have probably taken more time. I was in a big rush to do everything in two years. I wished I would have slowed down a bit and built more personal and professional relationships.
What motivated you while going back to school?
I wanted to finish my degree before getting married. I was focused on getting access to different types of jobs and potential employers. I ended up staying on the independent side running my own business but I attracted new clients and received more complex assignments.
This is the third second in a monthly series of conversations between Shannon Feightner, Alumni Relations manager, and key alumni from Brandman University – Chapman University College.
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