Spring 2009 | by Suzanne Yonker | photo by Scott Streble
“You can wake up every day and do things right—be honest and fair, offer good customer service—and still be hugely profitable as a business,” believes MBA learner Jamie Candee, 31. She would know. A Minnesota native, Candee serves on the executive team of a well-regarded publicly traded company with revenues last year of $68.4 million. She did her homework before joining the company and was drawn by their ethical business practices.
On the corporate fast track since graduating from the University of Wisconsin—River Falls with a bachelor of science degree in 1999, Candee learned the importance of ethics the hard way. She got involved with a mortgage and banking firm during the mortgage lending boom nine years ago. Though well compensated, Candee grew uncomfortable with the way business was conducted in that field.
“The greatest lessons are the hard ones that set you back in the short term but are the right ones in the long term,” Candee explains. So she left her employer and found a new job—taking a 50 percent pay cut. After a few years, she landed at her current company, PLATO Learning in Bloomington, Minn., a provider of educational technology software for K-12 and post-secondary markets. But she wanted to keep learning.
So Candee joined Bethel’s MBA program to learn business strategies along with principles for ethical decision making. Her cohort offered a unique educational community, including colleagues with whom she could share the experiences of her personal and professional life. The group even talked her out of quitting the program when she felt overwhelmed with new duties following a second promotion at work. In addition to caring for her and her husband’s first child (due in August), Candee will take her capstone class this fall and graduate in December.
Learning from others is crucial for Candee, and it’s one of the biggest benefits of Bethel’s MBA program. “There’s always something that people can teach you to make you a better person, a better colleague,” she explains. “I enjoy learning on the job and from mentors. I wanted to connect with colleagues, and the MBA program offers me that.”
In return, Candee shares her love of learning through her employer. She now serves as vice president of product management and sales and service effectiveness. Occasionally she meets customers and children, many of whom were far behind in school but were able to recapture credit through PLATO’s products and go on to college.
Candee attributes her professional success to God’s help.
“God has enabled me to have an incredible amount of drive and ambition,” she says.
Candee strives not only to make good decisions, but to make the best ones: “I always have God’s reminders that there is an ethical, fair way to make decisions.”