With more than 16 years of experience in the educational sales field, Stephen Ferreira knows plenty about the power of knowledge.
That’s why the Salem, New Hampshire, native is enrolled in the Master of Business Administration in Management online program at Fitchburg State University. He is on track to complete the program in October 2020.
“My passion is now management,” he said. “Helping employees reach their full potential while helping the company make educated decisions is what I have always wanted to do with my career.
“I knew that in order to have that level of impact, I needed to make a change. An MBA from Fitchburg State seemed like the best idea. I love it. This has been awesome.”
Ferreira started a new position as a regional sales manager at Paragon Furniture in September 2019. He lives in Ayer, Massachusetts, and works from home.
“I believe the degree has already created opportunities for me,” he said. “I left a company after 15 years because I wasn’t advancing in my career. When I told interviewers that I was getting my MBA, the whole conversation changed. It was a major reason why I got the job I have.”
The online format was the only way that Ferreira could earn a degree with his travel-heavy work schedule. He and his wife, Noelle, have a nine-year-old son, Aiden.
“The traditional brick-and-mortar education wouldn’t work with my schedule,” he said. “Online learning is convenient, and I can build my learning experience on my schedule. I needed that in order to even consider an MBA.
“I enjoy the courses, so it doesn’t seem like work to me. I find myself sitting in hotels or on airplanes writing papers. I feel I learned more from online courses than I would have from traditional education.”
Hop, Skip, Jump
While Ferreira was in high school, he developed a strong passion for wrestling. He competed and coached youth wrestling.
However, he wasn’t sure what to do for a career after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in communications from Plymouth State University in 2003.
“I knew I wanted to be in management, but I also knew I needed experience before achieving that goal,” he said. “I was in an office every day and hated every minute of it.
“My sister and brother-in-law told me to try my hand in sales because they thought I had the right personality for it. I agreed and have been working in educational sales ever since.”
Once Ferreira decided to enroll in a master’s degree program, his school choice was clear.
“My brother, Walter, went to Fitchburg State,” he said. “He always raved about how good of an education it was and how tough it was. I did a lot of research on different online colleges and universities. I found that Fitchburg State had more of what I was looking for in a university.
“The campus is only about 20 minutes down the road from me. After thinking about that and how I could support my local state college, it was a no-brainer. The price of the MBA was another big reason I chose Fitchburg State over others.”
So far, MGMT 9500: Strategic Management is Ferreira’s favorite course in the online MBA in Management curriculum.
“I enjoy analyzing organizations in order to find out what might be going right and what might be a cause for concern both now and in the future,” he said. “It’s like being a business detective or a doctor.
“My biggest takeaway from the program is seeing how executive leadership thinks. It was a light bulb moment for me to see how much really goes into the decision-making process. It’s amazing.”
Ferreira also loves the fact that all of the information he is learning in the program is applicable to his job.
“Every course I have taken has helped me not only speak more intelligently with executives but has helped me brainstorm with different departments,” he said. “I find myself going back to the textbooks and papers I wrote to brush up on the information and help the company to make informed decisions.”
Ferreira is taking one course at a time in the online MBA in Management program to ensure that he has time for his family and to absorb what he’s learning.
“I wanted to really learn the material,” he said. “My wife has been nothing but supportive and, in truth, I couldn’t have achieved this without her. I spent a lot of time and energy on this, and she made sure to give me the time I needed to finish my coursework.
“Both my friends and my family know what my aspirations are and think an MBA was the best decision I have made for my career. They have been very supportive and have encouraged me along the way. My friends tell me that I should have done this a long time ago.”
Ferreira believes he is also setting a positive example for his son by going back to school to improve his career opportunities.
“That’s been huge for me,” he said. “He jokes about me doing homework. I will attend the commencement ceremony so that our son can see how important it is to finish what you start and how important education is.”
With graduation day on the horizon, Ferreira is excited about having the knowledge to move ahead with a master’s degree under his belt.
“An MBA will open your eyes to parts of business that you otherwise would never see,” he said. “The key is to give the degree the attention it deserves and please put more value on the education part of the degree, not just the three letters M-B-A.
“I wondered if going back to school after 15 years was worth it. I can say without hesitation that it’s worth it. This program teaches you to be a leader. There is so much value in this program. Go for it — and don’t look back.”
Ferreira believes the degree will help him transition into an executive leadership role.
“It’s funny because when I tell people my goal is to become a chief executive officer or a chief operating officer, they think I’m reaching too high,” he said. “For me, it is the only career goal that matters. I would rather reach too high and miss than reach low and hit.”
Learn more about the Fitchburg State online MBA in Management program.