Evening MBA transformers: James Grandin

James Grandin Once: civil engineering project manager, Bury+Partners
Now: senior program manager, Amazon.com

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Business, I was employed as a civil engineering project manager at a land development consulting company in Austin, Texas. I was primarily responsible for infrastructure design and the preparation of construction drawings for single family, mixed use and commercial developments. I was also the designated representative for client and jurisdictional agency personnel on all applicable projects.

What are you currently doing in your role? I currently work at Amazon in Seattle and am managing the North American launch of the Pick-Up Point Program, which will enable customers to easily choose alternate delivery locations such as retail establishments and shipping destinations for their Amazon orders. This role encompasses many different tasks, including the development of business relationships with multinational corporations, negotiating multi-million dollar contracts and managing carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.) performance.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? First and foremost, I wouldn’t have this job without the Evening MBA Program. Civil engineering taught me how to be an effective project manager, but I lacked many required skills to succeed in a business oriented environment. My business statistics, leadership development, operations and marketing courses at Foster helped me sharpen my analytical and critical thinking skills. Additionally, the opportunity to network with classmates and industry professionals through various mentoring programs proved to be invaluable.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? Network, venture outside of your comfort zone and make sure you enroll in a variety of elective courses. It is extremely important at this point in your professional career to expose yourself to a variety of ideas and functions of business before choosing your career focus.