Ryan O’Neil is the head of marketing for the SAP S/4HANA solution at SAP. He is responsible for the North America marketing strategy and growth plan for the SAP S/4HANA business. SAP is a leading provider of business software, database and cloud-based technologies used by global entities and fast-growing operations. O’Neil earned his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

(Photo Courtesy f Ryan O’Neil)

(Photo Courtesy f Ryan O’Neil)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I pursued a master’s degree to expand my knowledge of successful business strategies and gain a broader understanding of the cross-department operations of a business (strategy, finance, manufacturing, sales, distribution, etc.).  I also recognized a trend developing at the time, Accelerated Master of Business Administration programs, where undergraduate students were able to take graduate courses as part of their undergraduate curriculum and were exiting a 4-5 year program with an MBA.  This reinforced the need to pursue an M.B.A. to stay competitive in the job market.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“I would strongly suggest that they pursue their master’s degree, especially for those who have been in the workplace for some amount of time.  Not only will it provide you with a competitive advantage in the workforce, but it will also re-energize you in your current situation.  I completed a part-time/professional MBA program and took classes at night (sometimes from 4pm-10pm on the same night), though I didn’t feel the impact of long days and busy schedules – I was energized by the new information and excited to bring that back into my daily work.  I became a better employee because I was constantly learning and applying what I learned to my work.  The M.B.A. program I completed from the University of Texas at Dallas involved detailed group work and special projects from corporate partners, like Ericsson, which also provided experience in real-world scenarios and hands-on work groups.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“My wife and I had just started a family when I decided to pursue my M.B.A., and during the program we had another child.  For me, balancing work with school and personal priorities was challenging at times – ultimately making the necessary time commitment to be successful in the program – but the M.B.A. program was also a bit of a refuge from the stresses of that part of life.  It worked out very well in the end.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree? 

“The biggest reward was knowledge – connecting the dots in a complex and dynamic business.  More specifically, it was being able to reference what I learned to overcome challenges in the workplace – be it developing a segmentation strategy for marketing or understanding the financial impact of mergers & acquisitions.  I am very driven to create value for the company that I work for, regardless of my role.  It has given me a foundation to continually contribute to the business and demonstrate the value that I deliver.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com