UW MBA Spotlight: Brayton Sanders

Dr. Benjamin Cook looked across the room, studying each face as he passed them by. He told the students to look at each other, to their left and their right. Typically, this is the point where the instructor would callously warn his class that half of them will have quit by the end of the semester. But that was not the point Dr. Cook was trying to make. Instead, he told his students to look at their peers. This group, he said, was going to be each other's network. The students in the MBA program, as well as their instructors and guest business executives, will help each other find jobs.

"This is your network," Cook told the class. "Use this network to build your career and help propel it forward."

Many students took this seriously. Brayton Sanders, especially, took this lecture to heart. He knew how important it was to have a network of people to rely on, and that is exactly what he was intent on building.

Sanders grew up in Evanston, Wyoming. He was a four-sport athlete in high school, competing in football, baseball, wrestling, and track. In essence, he was used to working hard and putting in long hours. When he graduated high school, he enrolled in the Colorado School of Mines and received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

"My dad was an engineer," Sanders shared. "I think that was probably a big reason why I got a degree in engineering. He always pushed me to be good and math and science, and I was good at it. They were my favorite subjects growing up, so it just seemed natural to go into engineering. At first, I chose civil engineering because my dad was a civil engineer, so it just seemed natural to go that way. But then I switched to mechanical because I thought it was the broadest engineering, and I could get a mechanical engineering degree and do all sorts of things with it."

Sanders received his undergrad in 2017, but it wouldn’t be long before he found himself back in a classroom, pursuing his MBA.

"One summer, I had an internship at Chevron, one of the refineries in Salt Lake City, Utah," he started. "Towards the end of the internship, I had done everything that they planned for me to do, so it got a little slow. So, I would just scroll their company website and see what information I could gather and learn from. Eventually, I found a cool, old document that had the hierarchy of all the high-level people at the company, from the CEO down. This document had all of the education of the higher-level managers, and I noticed that every one of them was an engineer with an MBA. So that was the summer that inspired me to get my own MBA, because I hope to one day be at those high-level positions in my own career, and I realized that if I wanted to do that, I would need an MBA."

After Sanders decided he wanted to pursue his MBA, the next question became where he would get it? It wasn't a question he would spend much time thinking about, however, because Wyoming was never too far out of his heart and mind. Brayton applied to the University of Wyoming and was accepted; this was a relief because, after spending some time away from his home, he was eager to be back. This is true of many people who leave Wyoming for a while. You broaden your horizons, but it's not long before you realize just how incredible the Cowboy State is.

Once Sanders figured out where we wanted to get his MBA, the next decision was what actually to get his MBA in. The University of Wyoming offers a multitude of program tracks, including Energy Management, Engineering, Finance, Pharmaceuticals, and more. With his background already in energy, it seemed like a no-brainer would continue on that path. But, at first, Sanders wasn't sure.

"Historically, I had always worked in energy, so an energy MBA would have paired really nicely with what I did, but I wasn't completely sure if that's what I wanted to do with my future," he said. "I was a little scared that if I chose the energy MBA, it would pigeonhole me into only being able to work in energy. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that wouldn't likely be the case. I'd still have an MBA overall, and getting an energy MBA would help me potentially find a job within Wyoming, which is where I wanted to stay."

The decision to pursue his energy MBA would end up being a good one, as it led to his current job as a machine learning engineer for Flowstate.

"My company is trying to build an artificial intelligence software solution that will detect leaks in oil pipelines," Sanders offered. "So, coming in as a machine learning engineer, I will help them build their machine learning models that will actually detect the leaks. We're in a pretty early stage, so right now they just need data. We're artificially creating the data because oil leaks don't happen very often, but it's an awesome opportunity, and I'm lucky to have it."

Luck may not be the only thing that has to do with it, as Sanders said that his job offer was a direct result of his time spent in the UW MBA program.

"What's unique about my job is that it's the only job I was offered because of the network I developed through the MBA program. The company came to me based on a recommendation they got from somebody I had met through the program. I applied to over a hundred positions, had a handful of interviews, and got to the second or third stages of some of them. But out of everything I applied for, the actual job I got was because of the connections I made through the program."

The University of Wyoming MBA program has a very successful placement rate for students, and Sanders is just one example. But it's not only the job opportunities that make the UW MBA program a worthwhile venture. It's also the knowledge one acquires, the connections one makes, and the friendships one develops. Sanders said that's one of his most cherished aspects of the time he spent at UW.

“One of the most important things to me with this program has been the friendships I’ve built during this time. I’ve been lucky enough to make friends wherever I go, whether it was high school or my undergrad or whatever else. But I can definitely say the friendships I’ve built during the MBA program are some of the best friendships I’ve ever had.”

Sanders has had quite the journey, from a star athlete in high school to the engineer that he is today. He has made many connections, has shared many experiences, and has gained a lot of knowledge, insight, and wisdom throughout the past few years. But it was his experience in the MBA program that he feels shaped him into the man that he is today.

"The MBA program here at Wyoming provided me the opportunity to dramatically shift my career path," Sanders said. "It was through the program that I was able to build an amazing network that led to me securing an amazing job. A job that two years ago, I would not have dreamed was a possibility this soon in my career. Paired with the amazing friendships I have built over these two years, earning an MBA at UW has been one of the best decisions I have made."

To start building your future with the University of Wyoming MBA program, click here for application deadlines and a step-by-step walkthrough of the application requirements. If you have any questions, email Benjamin R. Cook at bencook@uwyo.edu or call 307-766-2449.

Is Getting Your MBA Worth It?

It's midnight. You're on your eighth cup of coffee (or your second glass of bourbon), the lights are low, the computer is on, and your hands are typing as fast as your brain can make them. You're tired, but you're on a roll. When you finish typing, you take a deep breath, another drink, and you sigh. You're working on your MBA degree, and you're exhausted. You like the work you're doing and the relationships you're building and the knowledge you're acquiring, but you're tired. So you ask yourself, "Is the MBA even worth it?"

The short answer is yes. For the long answer, well, let’s ask people who know.

Reed Thompson is a UW MBA graduate who accepted a job with Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colorado, works as a software engineer, and was quick to extol the virtues of the MBA program.

"The MBA program covers so much ground," Thompson said. "There's so much coursework, but it's experiential learning. And it's the little things too; things that you wouldn't even think about - like developing some of the style skills, learning how to network properly, and how to develop relationships and find mentors."

Thompson continued, stating that "Having an MBA absolutely helped me get hired [by Lockheed Martin]. My interview process and application process were pretty streamlined- it got pushed through pretty quickly. I think having an MBA definitely helped in that aspect, and I'm confident that it's going to help down the road as well.

The MBA program is for somebody that's looking to better themselves- both personally and professionally, to take steps towards a positive direction career-wise. Like I said, it wasn't even on my radar, but a friend mentioned it to me, and it's something that completely altered my path."

The UW MBA program is absolutely something that can alter one's path, whether they decide to keep going in their education immediately after receiving their undergrad or if they come back later on in life during their career.

“Receiving my MBA means achieving something that I previously thought not possible,” Patrick Schum, another UW MBA alum said. “For the longest time in my undergraduate degree, I viewed school as a chore. It wasn’t until I graduated and began working at a company in the ‘real world’ that I truly realized and appreciated how much education impacts your life.”

Schum said that the knowledge he gained and the lessons he learned made the program worth it, but also stated it was the relationships he developed that meant the most.

“I hope[d] to foster meaningful relationships with classmates and teachers while also furthering my knowledge of business practices,” Schum said. “Business is based on relationships. The MBA program is focused heavily on this aspect, allowing our cohort to meet business leaders in the community every week. The College of Business taught me the value of making meaningful connections with staff and classmates; you never know who might change your life."

Kyle Farley is another UW MBA alum that believes the relationships he developed were what made his education worthwhile. Farley was recently named the Executive Director for HealthReach Urgent Care Clinic. He attributed much of his success to the experiences and relationships he developed while in the MBA program.

“The relationships you establish during the time you’re in the UW MBA program are vital,” he said. "I had a firm understanding of the material from classes, but the relationships with leaders and classmates are what I look back at as my most memorable time. From the study sessions to the backpacking trip, everything was about networking; with students, business owners, leaders and everyday professionals in the workforce. You can’t get that anywhere else, and to walk out into the real world through real connections has been invaluable.”

It's not just the relationships that make an MBA worth it, however. It's also the flexibility of the classes and of the instructors themselves. UW professors know that sometimes life gets in the way of our plans, and they are more than willing to work with students to make sure they are getting the most out of the program.

Vaibhav Sakorikar is a UW MBA graduate living and working in Vietnam, as the Director of Techcom Bank (TCB), a position he has held for more than six years. During that time, he also received his MBA online, which would have been nearly impossible without the flexibility of the UW MBA Online program.

"I was taking the course outside of the US, and our days revolve around completely different times," he said. "We have about 12 hours of difference, which could have been a big problem, but the professors were very supportive. I would shoot them an email and I would get a response immediately the next day, and it was really very good."

If anybody could answer whether receiving an MBA is worth it, it’s Sakorikar. He worked full-time while earning his MBA on the other side of the world. It was not an easy task, but Sakorikar said he wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

“Before starting the program, there are, of course, always a lot of concerns,” he advised. "Maybe it's the time constraint; maybe there's already a career in place, maybe there are family constraints or location constraints. There are many constraints out there, but if someone makes a choice and a decision that they want to receive their MBA, then they must go for it. Then, there's nothing to look back with regret on. Education really helps at any stage in the career."

Korby Bracken is another UW MBA graduate who completed his degree while also being a part of the workforce. He believed that some of the best relationships he developed in the program were with his instructors.

“The professors [at UW], regardless of what class you’re in, have real-life experience,” Bracken said. “They’re extremely knowledgeable about the subjects they’re teaching. It is a smaller school. You have a lot more instructor-to-student interaction. You have more of an opportunity to get to know your professors on a more personal level. I think that’s important.”

The teachers, the schedule, the Return on Investment, the real-world application, and so much more are what separate the University of Wyoming from other business schools. The UW MBA program is about more than just reading books, taking notes, and listening to lectures. It's about building a solid foundation upon which you can make your future.

“Regardless of where you’re at in your career, don’t be afraid to dive back in and take a chance,” Bracken stated. “It’s well worth it. The personalities that you meet and the long term relationships that you develop make it all worth it.”

So, is getting your MBA worth it? As we said, the short answer is yes. But don't take our word for it.

For more information about the University of Wyoming MBA program, click here for application deadlines and a step-by-step walkthrough of the application requirements. If you have any questions, email Benjamin R. Cook at bencook@uwyo.edu or call 307-766-2449.