Platoon Leader Uses MBA Course Assignments for Immediate Impact

July 25, 2012

Andy Francisco, a U.S. Army first lieutenant (1LT) and Isenberg MBA candidate, believes that fundamental business skills are essential to his current work and career growth. "I'm the textbook definition of a middle manager, doing primary information processing for my unit while telling my subordinates what to do and my senior managers what was done," he observes. "My MBA courses are helping me to bring greater efficiency and adaptability to that process.  Down the road, I'd like to have an EOD command of my own. And in four or five years, I'm counting on my business skills in transitioning to civilian life."


Stationed in Afghanistan, Francisco leads an Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) platoon. "Isenberg's online MBA is helping me to improve my risk assessment skills and my overall logistical preparedness and performance.  Most mornings I spend two hours gathering intelligence, reviewing story boards, and interpreting significant activity in my area of operations."  He continues, "I'm constantly assessing our situation, making judgment calls, adjusting. You have to be nimble to succeed."  Lieutenant Francisco remarks that he uses several information channels, but wanted to understand them from a larger information technology (IT) perspective. What he wasn't expecting was that the structure of his Information Management course made it possible for him to utilize the classroom to optimize his platoon performance in real-time.   


In one assignment, Lieutenant Francisco interviewed several mid-level army managers about IT systems and procedures. "It was tremendously helpful to be able to construct my course assignment in a way that allowed me to learn while simultaneously focusing my attention on my work responsibilities. By interviewing personnel, I learned a great deal about how the military uses IT and gained some new tools to connect with peers," he recalls. "Furthermore, I believe my interviews allowed each manager to see their own roles from different perspectives and perhaps share new ideas with their own committees. I was able to apply the insights I learned in the assignment immediately to improve my job performance.  With the course under my belt, I'm in a much better position to knowledge manage our systems and share my findings with others."


Lieutenant Francisco is also currently taking Business Data Analysis with Isenberg professor Robert Nakosteen. It's a stats course that, among other things, helps students to assess risk, which has already proved especially useful in Lieutenant Francisco's line of work. The Isenberg student is grateful to Nakosteen and his other professors for their flexibility on his completion of assignments. "The war in Afghanistan is unpredictable. Often, I'll have limited connectivity. My professors have been extremely accommodating and, I think, happy with my work."