Siloam Springs, AR
Graduate: Professional MIS
"This program has opened up doors that I never thought possible. It has launched my career further ahead than I ever thought."
Terrill Standifer of Siloam Springs expected to advance his career in the food industry by earning a master’s degree in Information Systems, but he did not realize how steep the trajectory would be.
“This program has opened up doors that I never thought possible,” Standifer said. “It has launched my career further ahead than I ever thought.”
Standifer, now a senior manager of information systems at a global food corporation, earned his master’s degree from the University of Arkansas in spring 2017. He participated in a program through the Sam M. Walton College of Business, which blends online and face-to-face learning.
“I wanted a program that would challenge me, and this one definitely did,” he said. “I knew the analytics program at the Walton College of Business would give me the knowledge I needed to have a tangible impact on my professional performance and capabilities.”
Peers in the industry noticed Standifer’s growing skills and the impact his new skills were having on his ability to bring valuable insight from large amounts of data. About 2.5 years ago – while he was still taking classes and working for a different food company – his current employer hired him. He now manages a team of programmers and analysts that support human resources for an internationally recognized food company.
“The field of analytics and big data is growing,” he said. “In today’s rapidly changing business environment with constant acquisitions, re-organizations and downsizing, it is great to have a skill that is in high demand.”
In 2012, Standifer was working for a mid-sized food company and recognized that both the company and the industry were moving to a data driven culture, but the pool of qualified data analysts was small. In an effort to get ahead of the curve and be prepared for future opportunities, he enrolled in the analytics program at the Walton College for the Fall of 2013. He took two classes each semester until he finished the certificate program, and then he cut back to one class each semester to add the courses he needed for the master’s program.
“Taking two classes at a time, with a full-time job and a family was, at times, very taxing,” he said. “I found it much easier to back off to one class at a time. It took longer to get through the program, but the work load was more manageable and allowed for more of a work-life balance.”
Standifer needed the flexibility of online learning to balance his school work, a full-time job, and his responsibilities to his wife and two children, both under the age of 9 years, he said.
“I liked the blend of online and face-to-face learning,” he said. “With the online classes, you can view the material and complete the work at your own pace, but I also liked to have face-to-face time with the professors and other students.”
Standifer attributes his success to what he learned and the abilities he gained, rather than the diploma he earned. For that, he thanked the faculty.
“I was definitely impressed with Dr. (Paul) Cronan and Dr. (Jeff) Mullins,” he said. “They are very knowledgeable, very approachable, and very caring. Each of these professors have such a caring nature and a passion for teaching. They’re not just there to teach; they’re there to help in any way and to make sure you learn the skills.”
Standifer learned, and by applying that knowledge in the workplace, he’s moving forward in his career.