Our Stories

Making Two Career Shifts in One Place

With help at Owen, Army veteran finds direction for civilian career

Chris Morrow
Senior Product Manager of Technical Products, Amazon

Vanderbilt MBA 2018

Chris Morrow had some significant management expertise before he decided to attend the Owen Graduate School of Management.

In the U.S. Army, Chris variously managed a foreign area training program involving the deployment of 1,200 personnel and $30 million in equipment; he led an 84-person reconnaissance unit (recognized by the Department of the Army for organizational excellence); and he managed a 180-person strategic planning organization.

But as he sought to manage his transition to civilian life, Chris concluded that he needed something more: an MBA. He chose Vanderbilt, he says, primarily for three attributes: “personal attention from faculty and staff, the Leadership Development Program and the engaged and committed alumni base.” It also helped, adds the graduate of the Army’s Ranger School, that “Owen is very familiar with the military student process and supports you throughout.”

Two of his classroom experiences particularly stood out. “Michael Burcham’s Launching the venture class made business school real to me,” Chris says. “He contextualizes all the disparate elements of business school (marketing, finance, accounting, ops, etc.) into a single, seven-week ‘so-what?’ Dr. Dawn Iacobucci’s Marketing Analytics class made me realized that I actually love statistics, and she had the ability to distill complex analytical methods into simple, here’s-what-you-should-care-about steps.”

The coursework led Chris to make not one career shift but two. In addition to leaving active duty for the private sector, after his internship in Human Resources he decided he wanted to work in product management. (After graduation, he landed a job with Amazon.) “The support and resources I received along the way helped make that possible,” Chris says. “You don’t have to have everything figured out to succeed at Owen.”

Fun Fact: A part-time SCUBA instructor, Chris’ favorite diving experience was leading a group dive at a “boring” local spot, only to come face-to-face with a 14-foot tiger shark.

“You don’t have to have everything figured out to succeed at Owen.”