J.A. Albertson Building
Phone: (208) 885-0555
Fax: (208) 885-5580
College of Business & Economics
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS3161
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3161
Success from Afar
Student earns MBA despite cross-country detour
By Stacie Jones
Sometimes, timing is everything. In 2011, Nick Ausman began searching for a master’s program that would expand his business acumen as a manager at a northern Idaho lumber company. The University of Idaho Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program and its integrated approach and flexible format seemed to fit the bill.
“The curriculum offered exactly what I needed,” he said. “I thought it would be a great program for me.”
He enrolled that August. But just two months into the 22-month program, Ausman’s career took an unexpected turn.
“I had a change in my career path when my job was eliminated,” he said. “I was quickly picked up for another opportunity…but it was in Alabama.”
Ausman accepted the offer to become the new general manager of Coastal Forest Products, a 300-employee plywood and lumber company in Chapman, Ala., located an hour outside of Montgomery.
While he was willing to leave behind his Coeur d’Alene home for the new assignment, Ausman was determined to stay on track with his education. He explored a few schools in his new state,
but he discovered the University of Idaho EMBA program to be incomparable.
“After considering my options, the decision was made to stay with the program and continue with the cohort I had started with,” he said. “I’m very grateful I did. It was a tremendously rewarding experience.”
Once a month for the next year and a half, with full support from his new employer, Ausman traveled from Alabama to join his EMBA classmates at the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene for the program’s monthly three-day sessions.
While the 4,000-mile roundtrip commute was anything but convenient, Ausman found the timing of his new knowledge to be surprisingly ideal. And what he had initially started as a professional development opportunity quickly became valuable hands-on training for one of his most significant professional challenges yet.
“I think I was very fortunate to change jobs during the course of the program,” he said. “When I first got to my company, it was a struggling organization, and I was charged with turning it around. Thankfully, a lot of the issues I faced on the job were exactly what we were studying in class. I was able to take the lessons I learned and apply them immediately to the organization, analyze the business and make key decisions about what worked in the company, and what didn’t.”
“It was like the curriculum was tailor-made for what I was experiencing at the time,” he added.
An unanticipated benefit of the program, Ausman noted, was access to the guidance and expertise of the College of Business and Economics faculty and the interaction with his EMBA peers, who were primarily top-level managers and executives.
“To be able to talk openly with such experienced business leaders and experts about my organization’s challenges, and to get their feedback and perspectives about what I was trying to do with the business was just priceless,” he said. “It was a business dream team. You can’t recreate that.”
Ausman, who graduated with his MBA last spring, credits the program for helping him build the broad-business knowledge and strategic tools to transform, in less than two years, his organization into a financially healthy company.
“Thanks in large part to what I learned in the program, I was able to confidently implement immediate changes to improve the operation,” he said. “Now, the company is profitable and we continue to accelerate in a positive direction.”