Catalyst

Snow was falling softly on the ground in the parking lot outside of the police station as my phone went off. I had just finished a meeting with Flagstaff PD regarding their strategy of “community policing” in the wake of a fallen officer. The meeting still on my mind, I answered a call from Paul Allen, UO’s Director of Admissions, which led to my acceptance into Oregon MBA. As I started my car and defrosted my windshield, I breathed a victorious sigh. I was going to business school.

Some might say that I had a wild roving youth, and one which doesn’t translate well to paper.

Singing for 'We Were There' in winter 2014

Singing for ‘We Were There’, winter 2014

Recognizing this shortcoming, I threw myself into creating the case for why I was a prime candidate to leave my current path and get on the Oregon trail. All of my community-college-attending, essay-editing, resume-tweaking, and GMAT re-taking efforts were steps toward rebranding myself and building that case. The funny part of the whole process? It’s what doesn’t translate well to paper that translates best to the program itself.

A large part of our discussions at Oregon are retrospective and reflective. Every day we are encouraged to synthesize our considerable learning in the light of our direct experience. After all, if you cannot find personal relevance with the material, you will not understand it properly. Different minds subjected to different training, interpret the same data differently (duh). The fun part of the program is collaborating with my peers to combine these interpretations and create additional value.

It is here that I find that my wide and varied skill set aids me most. My background in education allows me to facilitate group discussion for effective decision-making. My work as a tour manager aids me immensely in understanding accounting and finance, while experience as an event planner gives me the linear mindset required for project management. I draw from my time as a punk rock front man to be a commanding presenter, and my experience in the tattoo industry taught me that innovation is iteration. Buffalo Wild Wings taught me supply chain, while Criollo Latin Kitchen taught me supply chain integration. Hosting taught me capacity management, serving taught me how to segment markets, and bartending showed me that hustle is scarce and hunger is your greatest asset

Visiting Theo Chocolate with the OMBA, winter 2016

Visiting Theo Chocolate with the OMBA, winter 2016

Most importantly, however, was the time I spent as a crisis responder for victim’s rights. Becoming a crisis responder was one of my last projects before coming to the OMBA, inspired by last year’s civil unrest and a heightened consciousness of gender issues. Crisis response taught me that risk is ever present and many a well thought out deal goes bad. Crisis response causes me to remember that there is a much larger world outside of the Oregon MBA, one which is created at the community level, and one which demands conscious change agents.

If I could, I would go back to that parking lot and ask myself, “How does your experience color the way you process information? How do you leverage your insight into effective leadership? How do you find freedom in focus?” The answers to these questions are those which show a person’s true quality beyond their worth on paper. Yet, I know I would never have been able to answer them before coming here.

Written by Joey Jaraczewski

Jaraczewski joins the Oregon MBA with a passion for changing the food industry. He grew up in rural Arizona and has spent the past four years exploring the world of food from multiple angles. He’s worked as a server and bartender in Flagstaff and traveled across the country visiting farms, feedlots, food distribution warehouses, and retailers. As an Oregon MBA on the sustainability track, Jaraczewski plans to build on that experience to explore ways to build a more sustainable food system for generations to come. Jaraczewski will graduate as an Oregon MBA with the class of 2017.