10 Years of Veteran Success

USC Marshall’s Master of Business for Veterans Program has helped a decade of veterans transition from active duty to corporate America. It’s only getting started.

October 26, 2022

Retired Lt. Col. James Bogle really just wanted some more information about Marshall’s Executive Education Program for veterans. Instead he came away from that phone call with an offer to become the director of the School’s soon-to-launch Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) program.

MBV Cohort 10
Members of Marshall's MBV Program cohort 10.

He certainly had the chops for the job. When he came onboard in 2013, Bogle brought Marshall more than 25 years of service and leadership in the U. S. Army, including a combat tour in Iraq. He later served on the staff of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the office of European and NATO Policy as well as in the US Embassy in Paris. He was wrapping up a stint as an instructor with the US Air Force Academy when he was offered the opportunity to lead Marshall’s new master’s program created for veterans.  

“This was my first professional move after the military,” he said.  “And what a privilege it has been to work with such incredible people: the students, the faculty, the staff, the volunteers.  In so many ways I am one of the veterans helped by MBV.  In fact, I earned this degree in Cohort III.”

The MBV program has been an unqualified success. The well-respected degree program is educating its 10th cohort this year.

"As we approach our 10-year milestone for the MBV Program at the end of this academic year, I am grateful for the almost 700 men and women representing all six of the armed forces of the United States who are now alumni or current students in Cohort X,” said Robert Turrill, professor emeritus in management and organization, who led the program as Academic Director for its first six years.

Created by the Trojan Family

It began as an Executive Education program that targeted veterans who wanted help transitioning to civilian life. Those students were enthusiastic and spoke to USC administrators and the California Dept. of Veterans Affairs, lobbying for an official degree program.

They got their wish. The official degree program, launched in 2012, matriculated its first cohort in 2013 (It’s been nine years since the first cohort, making this current class number 10). The class has grown from 50 students to today’s 86. They come from all branches of the military (including the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Space Force).

Veterans are in continual demand. According to a recent WSJ article, efforts to hire US veterans have increased in recent years, with many private sector companies and nonprofits (such as universities) “introducing or expanding programs that help match veterans with civilian jobs.”

Veterans In Demand

One such alumna is Takiesha Waites-Thierry, who joined the MBV program in 2018 after a long career in intelligence for the Navy and Coast Guard. Today she is a cyber response and recovery executive with Bank of America.

“The MBV program was instrumental in my bridging from the public sector to corporate,” she said. “If it weren’t for the connections I made with other MBV graduates, I definitely wouldn’t be in the role I’m in today.”

The MBV has embedded itself within the Marshall community. Its students have helped teach leadership skills to freshmen honors students in the Global Leadership Program (GLP) and the Coury Leadership program. MBV alumni played an outsized role during the early days of the pandemic, including flying supplies of hard-to-attain PPE to stranded sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier, and developing novel ways to create them. Marshall alumni have been generous in giving to the program.

The faculty enjoy teaching these students as well.

“Many faculty members will share that MBV students are a lively and spirited group,” said Kevin Fields, an associate professor of finance and business economics and the academic director for MBV since 2018.  “This is a student population I feel compelled to serve to as they have done for our country.”

The future looks bright for the MBV program, he said. “We are putting the finishing touches on a revised curriculum which will add additional academic units and rebalance the curriculum to best support the career functions in which MBV graduates seek job opportunities, both today and in the future,” said Fields.

“I am proud of the way MBV students contribute to the University and to the Marshall School," said Bogle.  “We receive so much from the Trojan Family—particularly our Executive Partners.  The culture of this program is defined by gratitude, service, camaraderie and achievement.”