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James Jones, MBA-Global Business 2009, is manager-solutions management for Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.
James Jones, MBA-Global Business 2009, is manager-solutions management for Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.

Alumni Profile: Executive MBA Took James Jones' Career in New Direction

If James T. Jones had the time to go back through the Executive MBA program at Georgia Tech again, "I'd do it in a heartbeat," says the 2009 graduate.

Jones, who earned his MBA in Global Business, says that he misses the intellectual stimulation of the business school environment — the interaction with classmates, bouncing ideas off one another, solving real-world problems.

But there's one condition: "I wouldn't want to have to take tests," he laughs.

Jones brings his enthusiasm for the EMBA program to his role as an alumni ambassador for Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, where he helps the recruitment process by talking to prospective EMBA students. He advises candidates to weigh their options carefully and understand what they want to get out of the program.

"Everybody has their own reasons for getting an MBA," says Jones, who was named Georgia Tech Outstanding Alumni Ambassador in 2010. "For some, it's financial gain; you expect to make more money. For others, it is about building their business. They may already be entrepreneurs who want to learn how to grow their small business. Others go for an MBA because it will allow them to move up within the company where they work.

"You have to be honest with yourself about what you're looking for in an MBA to ensure you get the most out of the program."

A military kid, Jones attended a different school every year until his junior year of high school, when his dad retired after a combined 21 years with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, and the family finally settled down in Bowie, Maryland.

Originally, Jones had his sights set on a career as a major league center fielder. He considered a baseball scholarship at Bowie State University, but opted instead to play ball at Florida State.

"But things changed for me," he says of his year as a Seminole, "and I made a decision that major league baseball probably wasn't the best thing for me."

He transferred to Florida A&M, where he earned a degree in biology and pre-med chemistry in 2004.

Jones' path to the EMBA began when he was working as a chemist at a large pharmaceutical company's Atlanta facility. Jones found himself growing restless sitting alone in front of a computer for eight hours, day after day.

Drawing on his retail sales background from his high school and college days, he decided to move into the sales side of the business. Although successful in this new role, Jones felt constrained by his lack of a formal business education. At company meetings, Jones felt that his input was not taken seriously. Despite his on-the-ground experience and insight acquired as a sales representative, he was still viewed as a chemist.

"I was not the guy who went to business school, and I wasn't able to articulate my ideas in the language that people from business school used," he recalls. "There were some advancement opportunities at the company, but those opportunities were not made available to me because I did not have the business background. I was getting frustrated, so I started looking for an Executive MBA program."

His search took him to the Scheller College of Business. Given Georgia Tech's reputation, he expected to obtain a first-class academic business education, but he found a lot more.

"I didn't anticipate that my professors would have so much current, practical experience that they brought to the classroom," he explains. "I didn't anticipate learning about both past and present business cases — solving real-world problems that were actively going on at the time. That was a really great takeaway from the program.

"The EMBA degree was worth every penny to me personally," Jones adds. "I learned a lot, but what I really got out of it was the confirmation that I'm prepared to run a company on my own. And for me, being in Corporate America, that gave me the confidence to speak up at the table when I have those opportunities. Now I know how to articulate what I'm thinking."

Armed with his master's degree, Jones found a new job in the Atlanta office of Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, a Chicago-based company that provides physician practices, hospitals and other healthcare providers with practice management and electronic health record technology, including electronic prescribing, care management and revenue cycle software. His title is manager — solutions management, which involves product management and strategy within the development side of the company. He also serves as manager of business development for one of Allscripts' large business units.

As if he's not busy enough, Jones also runs a consulting practice on the side.

"SVI is a small consulting firm that I started up about seven or eight years ago," he says. "It caters to small business owners in metro Atlanta who are trying to figure out their next steps: How to take on their large competitors, how to evaluate their mission and vision, and how to drive culture change within their organizations so employees feel like they are stakeholders in the company.

"This allows me to take some of the skills I've learned and hone and refine them and use them to help small businesses succeed. It also provides me with opportunities to grow and develop on a personal path."


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