WKU alumnus returns to pursue MBA after professional experience
- Riley Jones
- Tuesday, October 20th, 2020
WKU alumnus Zach Cook returned to the Hill to pursue his Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Supply Chain Management.
When Cook, who is from Evansville, Indiana, began his journey with higher education, WKU was his top choice.
“I wanted to choose the school that was going to give me the highest value education,” Cook said.
“On my first visit, I decided that this was where I wanted to go. I ended up not applying anywhere else. I thought, ‘this is it – this is where I’m going.’”
Cook began his time at WKU as a student in the Mahurin Honors College, and found leadership opportunities within his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha.
“Honors was a good influence, mainly for that first semester, because I was around other students who were very driven and motivated,” Cook stated. “Then the second semester, I rushed Pi Kappa Alpha. With managerial aspirations, I decided to get into leadership. I served as vice-president for a year, and that helped me to gain experience working with people who had differing opinions, working with a large organization, and realizing the example I set and how I can influence people.”
Cook graduated with a degree in Economics in 2018, and credits his success post-graduation to his thesis project and mentor relationship with Dr. Catherine Carey, former faculty member for the WKU Department of Economics. After Cook interned in the Center for Applied Economics, Carey helped Cook find a job with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Those two years I worked there in economic development were probably the most important thing to happen to me in my professional life so far,” Cook said. “Who I am as a professional has stemmed from attending WKU.”
While working with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce as an Economic Development Project Manager, Cook contributed to the growth of the local Bowling Green economy by assisting with projects that helped local businesses and created over 1,100 new jobs over the past two years.
The professional experience Cook gained with the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce was very important to him, but it also made him realize what steps he wanted to take next.
“Being able to use the education I got at WKU and applying that to the real world, and also taking the real world experience to figure out what education I was lacking or what I wanted to improve upon, led me back here,” Cook explained.
Cook discussed the possibility of earning an MBA with MBA Director and Management Professor, Dr. Dana Cosby.
“I had her in undergrad for management, and I got to know her pretty well through her work with the Chamber,” Cook said. “So when I was considering the MBA, I gave her a call and we talked for probably an hour. It didn’t take much to sell me on it, but she oversold me. I knew that this was what I wanted to do and I couldn’t wait to start. Thanks to her, I’m back on the Hill.”
Cook understands the advantages of pursuing an MBA full-time and how valuable his education will be in his future career.
“Pursuing the MBA full-time has given me the attention to work on the soft skills and the technical skills,” Cook explained. “I also realized how impactful the technical knowledge of software can be – especially in data analytics, database management, and customer relationship management systems – and how easy it is for companies to overlook these areas just because they don’t have someone that knows what’s out there.”
Cook has hopes of working in supply chain management following the completion of his MBA in May.
“Forty to fifty years ago, I don’t think there were a lot of chief supply chain officers, but supply chain has become much more important in the corporate structure,” Cook said. “Supply chain is a little more technical, fits my interests, relates well with Economics, and it’s a good way to get into an organization and work my way up into an executive level role.”
Despite having his sights on the future, Cook is thoroughly enjoying his time back on the Hill.
“It’s a lot different now, as a graduate student especially,” Cook stated. “The idea of walking up the Hill and going to class was something that I really wanted. I’m glad that I did it. It’s funny, being back. I just look around and can’t believe I’m back here. It has reaffirmed that this is probably one of the most special places to me. I love WKU.”
For more information about the Gordon Ford College of Business, visit: https://www.wku.edu/business/
For more information about the MBA program at WKU, visit: https://www.wku.edu/mba/