HR professional uses Evening MBA to diversify and differentiate his skill set

Human resource professionals are the experts in talent acquisition, management and development. While they make decisions that impact entire organizations, it’s easy for some to feel isolated within the HR world.

Garrett Johnson, MBA’20, is an HR professional who considered pursing an MBA to expand his knowledge beyond human resources.

“I kept debating the idea and asked other professionals in HR whether I should go back to school to earn my MBA,” he said. “They told me an MBA would diversify my skill set and provide me with knowledge that expands beyond HR. Additional HR skills can always be gained through on-the-job experiences, and they suggested I shouldn’t silo myself into just one area.”

At the time, Garrett was an HR generalist who’d recently relocated from Atlanta to Indianapolis. He’d heard about the Kelley School of Business from colleagues who are alumni, and he selected the Evening MBA Program to earn his degree.

“The rigor of the program is a grind while you’re in it, but I believe that it will be worth it when you’re done,” he said. “I definitely wanted to be surrounded by the best of the best so I could be challenged, learn and improve my skill sets while meeting great people.”

Garrett knew he wanted to go back to school to gain a greater understanding of business as a whole: the challenges, the opportunities, how goals are created and how strategies are developed and executed. He felt he could be a better partner at his company if he acquired that complete understanding.

“Having a seat at the table, having the respect of leaders across the organization and understanding the core competencies of the business – these can take you far in positioning yourself,” he said. “Also, I wanted to set myself apart amongst others I’d be competing against for future roles, and having an MBA is a great start.”

Garrett applied for graduate school while pursuing his next role. He met Mary Johnson, director of the Kelley Evening MBA Program, when he was researching the degree and found they shared several connections. Garrett and Mary networked together, and a mutual contact helped get his résumé into the right hands to interview for the role he eventually earned: HR business partner at Roche Diagnostics.

“Mary’s been integral in my professional development throughout my journey here in Indiana,” said Garrett. “Despite not knowing me for long, she recognized what I wanted and was 100% supportive, even before I enrolled at Kelley. That sold me on the Evening MBA Program – it’s a great school with great people who care about you as an individual and want you to succeed.”

Garrett said the relationship building continued as soon as he began his MBA. At times, the course work was challenging, but he says it is complemented by supportive guidance from Kelley faculty.

The professors are dedicated to your learning. It’s not just about earning a piece of paper to put on your résumé; they care intentionally about your education and push you toward your goals.

Garrett Johnson, MBA’20