Army Veteran Enhances Leadership Skills through Management of Technology Degree Program | Technological Leadership Institute

Posted on
May 9, 2016
Ben Morrison

Ben Morrison is a natural born leader.

He served seven years of active duty as a U.S. Army signal officer, where he was responsible for planning and executing all aspects of communication on a mission, and led a team of 120 people. Morrison has also worked for NATO and several organizations in Minneapolis as an upper-level IT project manager.

“I enjoyed my time in the Army, and I wanted to get back into a role like that, where I can make decisions and manage a team.”

He expanded his leadership skills as a student in the Master of Science in Management of Technology (MOT) degree program at the Technological Leadership Institute (TLI). Morrison says his education benefited him in his position as an IT project manager at Be the Match, a national non-profit organization.

“[The MOT program] got me out of the IT mindset and more into how IT impacts the business as a whole. How I think about things has changed,” Morrison explains. “I’m able to step back and look at the bigger picture and ask things like ‘Does this make sense? Are we going in the right direction? How does this impact the business, marketing campaigns and our donors?’”

After starting the MOT program, Morrison was promoted from IT project manager to program manager. The skills gained in the MOT program helped him transition into his expanded role, which requires a degree of technical knowledge, but emphasizes business management skill.

“I like that the program is more technical-based and that it focuses on building leadership skills because it’s where I want to go with my career,” says Morrison.

As a father of two boys ages 7 and 4, Morrison says the program’s cohort model also taught him how to better manage the balance between family, education and career.

“It’s nice that the program alternates meeting one full day a week, and then we just had one night a week when we met with our study group,” he says. “We were all busy and working, so we helped each other out with scheduling.”

The Management of Technology degree program features a cohort-based model, with a class size of 30. Classes meet one day per week, alternating Fridays and Saturdays over four semesters, allowing students to graduate within two years while working full-time. MOT courses are taught by accomplished faculty members, who have significant professional experience working for corporations, organizations and in government. The degree program is led by Dr. Massoud Amin, a world-renowned expert and father of the smart grid.

“The caliber of the professors in the program makes it stand out,” he says. “Their resumes are pretty impressive, and they bring in outside professors and industry leaders.”

Morrison says he anticipated all he would learn from the MOT program’s distinguished faculty members, however he was not expecting he would learn so much from his peers.

“I was surprised by how much is group work and how much interaction we had with our group members. Our groups were the same throughout the whole program, so we built personal relationships and learned how to have those critical conversations when there’s a discrepancy or difference of opinion,” explains Morrison. “We learned a lot from each other. The instructors were good about facilitating that. We shared our experiences and lessons learned.”

Those experiences for Morrison include his time spent as an officer in the Army. As a veteran, he is no stranger to living overseas, and he enjoyed the International MOT Project, a course that takes the cohort abroad to learn about international business.

“We traveled to Vietnam to meet with the embassy and different organizations to discuss how they’re emerging technically and what they’re doing to overcome issues. Then we went to Singapore, which is more evolved, to learn how they’re using smart grids.”

Morrison graduated in April 2016, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the demand for project managers will grow 17 percent by 2018. Although he is enjoying his current position, he has bigger plans for the future.

“I want to get back into strategic planning, decision making and mentoring others. I would like to secure a management position after graduation, and in 10 years, maybe move into a director of infrastructure or CEO position for an organization.”

In the Leading Individual and Team Performance course, MOT students learn the mindset, tool set and skill set needed to lead effective innovation teams and organizations. Visit the Master of Science in Management of Technology degree program page to find out how the MOT degree can help elevate your career.

I like that the program is more technical-based and that it focuses on building leadership skills because it’s where I want to go with my career.

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