MaineMBA at any age: Jord Thomas
Why would a 57-year-old who lives in Escondido, California, decide to earn his MBA from the University of Maine? A sense of community, history, and flexibility.
Jord Thomas, ‘G22, had hit a wall promotion-wise at his job. He works as a production operations supervisor at a recovery firm serving major banks and vehicle manufacturers. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Information Systems from San Diego State University in 2003 and started thinking about earning his MBA. But life, however, got in the way. He continued to learn through workshops and seminars, even teaching himself to program in C#. “Work became more challenging,” Jord says. “So I started thinking about my options.”
His options brought him across the country to the East Coast. Born in New York City, Jord is an enrolled member of the Penobscot Nation. “On one of my visits to Maine to visit my father, I scouted out the UMaine campus for possible degree programs for my daughter, Megan,” he says. By the time he was ready to enroll in an MBA program in 2019, the online MaineMBA was waiting for him. “The program’s reputation and rankings, and knowing the University of Maine is just minutes away from my tribe on Indian Island, factored into my decision to enroll.”
Jord’s passion for problem solving and idea generation and his background in production operations made him an excellent fit for the MaineMBA program. He particularly enjoyed his business analytics class with Dr. Yonggang “Tim” Lu. “Tim’s teaching style was an excellent balance between procedure and intent,” Jord says. “I learned a lot about turning data into talking points with executive management and better understanding vendor management.” He put his classwork to use on the job, and one of his vendors gave his employer a complimentary “forever license” to a recently-released add-on product that Jord had helped beta test. “The University of Maine is rising in stature. Its new classification as an R1 institution is because of quality professors like those in the Graduate School of Business.”
Jord was one of the first MBA students to enroll in the Maine Business School’s Excel Certification course, taught by Dr. Tanya Beaulieu. He’s now certified at the Expert level and utilized his knowledge in his Investment Management class. In December 2021, Jord was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society for AACSB-accredited institutions. “My master-level Beta Gamma Sigma induction at the University of Maine was a special moment,” he says. “It validated that I was on the right track. I wasn’t just marking time and taking classes but driving my learning experience to the next level. Thanks to glowing recommendation letters from Dr. Lu and Dr. Sebastian Lobe, Jord was also initiated into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. “This was another huge honor for me,” Jord says.
As he finishes up his last two classes this summer, Jord shares that he has seen tremendous growth in the MaineMBA program in the past year under Dr. Norm O’Reilly, Dean of the Graduate School of Business. In UMaine’s MBA program, Jord took classes with fellow students who had just earned their bachelor’s degrees and students who were more advanced in their careers than he was. “One thing that I have learned about the MaineMBA program is that diverse backgrounds and viewpoints make for strong leadership and educational experience,” Jord says. “Earning a master’s degree is a grind. You must be mentally prepared to balance work, family, and school life. And to be patient with the other students you will collaborate with.”
In May 2022, Jord walked across the stage during the University of Maine’s commencement ceremony. “My dad likes to joke about my multi-decade educational experience asking me, ‘Are we there yet?’ I’d like to say ‘Yes!’ but I don’t have a Ph.D. yet….”