After graduating LSU with a B.S. in Psychology in 2013, LSU Flores EMBA Flex student Brandon Denley didn’t imagine he would ever go back to school. Denley started his professional career with seven years in ministry and has since led a successful career with roles in recruitment, business development, and marketing.
Recently, Denley was presented with the unique opportunity to join the team of a local startup. He was always curious about the startup world, but it wasn’t until he experienced related curriculum in the Flores MBA Program, and spoke to some of his classmates, that he decided now was as good a time as any to pivot industries. Now, Denley officially works for Matchpoint Connection, a local Baton Rouge startup that enables athletes and other social media influencers to connect and engage with brands for paid promotions through an app.
We recently spoke with Denley to learn about his experience with the program thus far and its role in the progression of his career.
Why did you decide to join the Flores EMBA Flex Program?
My motive for getting an MBA was to better take care of people by making better business decisions and having better understanding in the long-term. The more I know about how to lead a business, the better I’ll be able to take care of people. I felt like I had a lot of strengths on the relational side, but I wanted more insight on business. In the long run, I’d like to own or run multiple businesses and help other people’s dreams come to life.
Can you describe your recent career change to Matchpoint Connection?
Before my current role, I was working for a company that has dental assisting schools around the country, and that’s where I was doing business development, sales, and marketing. When I made the change to Matchpoint Connection, I thought of it as another learning opportunity to get in on a startup and learn as much as I can from the ground up, while I am also learning in school. It’s been a fresh and exciting opportunity to distinguish the differences in roles between a new business and a startup.
Have you seen any ties from what you’re learning in the EMBA Flex Program to what you’re doing at work?
Once I got to the EMBA Flex Program, I had a lot of questions about startups and the program has been really beneficial to my career from a relational aspect. I think the classmates I lean on most are probably ages 38-45, and everyone has work experience that allows a transfer of good advice from people from all different areas of business.
Within my class in the Flores EMBA Flex Program, there are two or three classmates I bounce ideas off of and take their collective advice based on what they learned in past work experiences. I talk with a few of my classmates every single day, and we are all from different industry and role backgrounds. It’s good to hear their open and honest feedback and at the same time hear them encourage me to jump on opportunities like with Matchpoint Connection. If I ever have questions about a work opportunity, I lean on my classmates. Even the guest speaker we had last Friday is on his second startup. I reached out to him on LinkedIn and set up a call to get more insight on startups. I am trying to learn as much as I can through the program from people with experience in the startup world.
What are your roles and responsibilities at Matchpoint Connection?
My technical title is director of business development, but to be honest we all do everything we can to help the company grow, which has been really enjoyable for me. The majority of what I’ve been doing is talking with athletes, influencers, and brands. On one hand, we are building relationships with brands and offering a solution in the unfamiliar space of influencer marketing. While on the other hand, we are serving our talent by educating, coaching, and supporting them as they navigate this new market.
How have you found a balance between work and school?
I think working with classmates is really the key. As far as professors go, they understand that most the people in our EMBA Flex class have families and full-time jobs, so they are realistic with the material. Especially in the lecture settings, they try to give us practical and tangible takeaways to bring to the workforce, rather than just trying to teach us through theory.
What has been the most beneficial class that you’ve taken so far?
The one that was a nice onboarding course into the program was organizational behavior. With my undergrad in psychology and my background in ministry, I really love studying people. Topics like implementing strength finders and people management were more up my alley, and our teacher, Dr. Kerry Sauley, was really entertaining.
What piece of advice would you tell someone who is thinking about joining the EMBA Flex Program?
I would say it’s never too late to go back to school. I respect that there’s people in my class that are 55 and are still wanting to learn. I think there is something to be said about having the humility to go back to school and learn from people who manage 200 people or who own their own businesses. Similarly, those people genuinely want to learn too. You can learn from anybody, and I love that about the program.
The LSU EMBA Flex track is designed as a flexible format allowing students to engage in hybrid learning experiences and networking opportunities while working full time. Whether our students have been in the work force for five years or 25 years, each bring a unique perspective to the program that creates an experiential learning environment and holistic outlook of business. Students can take the real-world, relevant lessons they learn from their peers and professors in the classroom one day and apply it at work the next day. Students just like Denley also benefit from the expansive networking opportunities the program offers. According to https://www.topmba.com/programs/executive-mba/top-five-reasons-study-emba, the network you can develop is one of the most valuable outcomes of an EMBA Program.
For more information on LSU’s EMBA Flex program, visit our website. https://www.lsu.edu/business/mba/academics/flex/index.php.
The LSU Flores MBA Program provides you with a flexible path to advance your career. Our nationally ranked program currently administers a traditional, two-year, full-time program, a one-year, full-time program for business majors, a part-time online (no residency requirement) program, and an Executive MBA Flex. For more information, visit mba.lsu.edu.