Corey Biggs approaches his fledgling career in finance the same way that he did playing competitive sports. He always has a game plan.
Nineteen months after completing a bachelor's degree, he graduated from the Master of Business Administration with a Management Specialization online program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
"As I was working and looking for the next opportunity in my professional career, a lot of the opportunities preferred candidates to have an MBA or a CPA," Biggs said. "I felt getting an MBA would give me that competitive edge over my peers — especially my age. I decided to go for it."
After a couple of months in the master's degree program, he landed a job as a financial analyst at Precoat Metals in the St. Louis area, where he is from. He previously worked in accounting for Anheuser-Busch.
"Wanting to earn an MBA didn't come along until I had a little bit of real-world experience," Biggs said. "I wanted to get it behind me, so I did it in the 12-month frame. Looking back, I wouldn't do it any other way."
Biggs earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from the on-campus program at SIUE. The flexibility of the online format was especially fortuitous in relation to his current role.
"I travel out of state 25% of the time," he said. "I finished my finals and did my final negotiation for one of my courses from Mississippi. I enjoyed the flexibility.
"It worked out great and gave me the opportunity to finish the degree and work full time. That way, I didn't have any gaps. It was best-case scenario — doing it all online."
After graduating from Dupo High School, where Biggs was a multi-sport athlete, he started college as a baseball player at Lindenwood University. The only problem was, he had no idea what career path to take.
"I called my high school football coach, Tim Nelson, and he said he knew a lot of people in the finance industry who loved what they did and were very well off," he said. "I took his word and went for it. The rest is history."
Although Nelson lost his battle with cancer in January 2018, he still has a profound impact on Biggs' approach to life.
"I continue to do things that I think would make him proud," he said. "We had a very close bond all the way up until his death."
Biggs was looking at both SIUE and Maryville University when considering MBA programs, but he chose to remain a Cougar to keep tuition affordable.
"The way that the program was set up, you did the work that you had in front of you," he said. "That allowed you the flexibility to spend a whole Saturday doing it, or do it in the evenings after work.
"It allowed that flexibility for me to complete it without having to go to campus from 6 to 9 p.m. and being withheld from other obligations."
MBA 523: Negotiation and Interpersonal Skills for Managers was Biggs' favorite course in the MBA with a Management Specialization curriculum.
"There were a lot of scenarios in the negotiation course that were financial decisions for corporations where one party was representing the CFO and one party was representing the sales team," he said. "We all worked together. In doing that, it brought together a lot of real-world experience that allowed you to apply what you were learning as if it was the real world. Getting the foundation of negotiating was huge for my career."
Biggs also enjoyed the applicability of MBA 534: Strategic Management, which included a large business simulation that provided valuable insight.
"You had to run the simulation prior to graduation and compete against your peers and receive your grade based on a percentile of how you performed," he said. "It was more or less like running your own business and was very inclusive and involved with human resources, finance, production and sales. You got the full picture."
Hello, End Zone
Biggs was the first person in his immediate family to earn a four-year college degree. He walked in his second SIUE commencement ceremony in less than two years in December 2019.
"I enjoyed the experience and getting to put a face to a name," he said. "There were a lot of professors I built a nice relationship with who I didn't get to see a lot. You have Skype calls, but getting to see them in person and building that relationship and that network for the future was beneficial."
Although Biggs hopes to eventually become the chief financial officer of a company, he looks forward to the journey more than the destination. He also leans on the lessons he learned from Coach Nelson.
"Of course, we all have to start somewhere, so I am just beginning my career fresh," he said. "My ultimate goal is to help others and build a relationship with others.
"This MBA program prepared me for my industry and gave me a competitive edge. There were a lot of things I learned in the program that I now use on a regular basis."
With two degrees and a thriving career, Biggs is glad that he followed the good advice of his former high school football coach and that he matriculated at SIUE.
"I got a ton of value out of the MBA program," he said. "To say the least, it opened many more doors and will continue to open doors in the near future. There's more value in the program than the money you spend. I can't put a dollar amount on the value I received from the program, but it's much more than the cost."
Nice game plan.
Learn more about the SIUE online MBA program with a Management Specialization.
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