Alum feature: Meet Jason Zoesch

Jason Zoesch

Program: MSGSCM

Graduation Year: 2020

Program Schedule: Full-Time

Please briefly describe your career path and what led you to choose The School of Business at Portland State.

In practice, I am a logistician. After 20 years in the military, I retired as a Captain from the United States Army in 2018. Wanting to enter industry and apply these experiences gained through service, I quickly realized I needed a graduate degree.

Portland State was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary institute for returning World War II veterans. This origin story has always served as both a source of pride and a point of connection for me in ways that other schools just can’t provide. For this, along with The School of Business’ pulse on industry and network of partners, I found myself drawn back to PSU.

Why did you choose to pursue the MSGSCM instead of an MBA?

As a former military logistician, I consider myself a specialist. I take pride in taking others’ visions through an entrepreneurial spirit, and generating exceptional and unexpected results. When it came time to pick either the MSGSCM or the MBA, I wanted to study something that highlighted this utility and invest in an education that spoke to my past experiences as a military officer.

What do you intend to do with your graduate business degree?

I want to partner with a medium- to large-sized business to manage their supply chain and put my degree, entrepreneurial spirit and military experience to work.

What skills gained at PSU have you found most valuable and why?

The supply chain lexicon: One of the major impediments to employment I faced in retirement was framing my military experience into digestible terms that industry can understand. The MSGSCM gifted me this lexicon. As a result, I can now express what makes me marketable to industry in terms that can be appreciated and best represent my talents.   

Solving complex problems: Navigating the sheer volume and diversity of the case studies we encountered makes me feel confident in my abilities to run diagnostics on an organization and then provide them with data-supported solutions for high-visibility, high-payout problems.     

Business intelligence: Prior to the MSGSCM program, my background in business analytics was shallow. The curriculum of the MSGSCM bridged this gap, reinforcing the role of data-driven decision making as it relates to both profitability and sustainability.

Corporate leadership: Even as a military leader with decades of experience in seeing projects through to conclusion, the repeated team projects required by the MSGSCM pushed me to experiment and develop a toolbox more suited for the private sector. The intuition that has resulted is priceless.

How do you spend your free time?

I am a father of five (ages 17, 15, 12, 11 and 7). As a result, my free time is mostly dedicated to family. We aim to generate as many good memories as we can, and balance this desire against the rigors of graduate studies.  Aside from that, I quite enjoy creative writing, and when I can spend time escaping through pen and pad, I do.

What advice do you have for prospective graduate business students who are interested in your field?

Choose wisely: Graduate studies is a significant but rewarding undertaking. In choosing a program, make sure your choice contributes to shaping what your next 10 years looks like, and that your chosen path complements existing skilsets. This will not only secure value, but will aid you in navigating the challenges that are in store, making you more marketable on the other side. 

Develop a network: As a graduate student, you are surrounded by highly intelligent and capable people who have likely already proven themselves in the field, and were likely in the top 10% of their undergraduate programs. Leverage this opportunity and make building connections a priority. After all, these are the folks who will serve as your lifeline after graduation. In the MSGSCM program, I’ve made some amazing connections that hold value and will weather time.  

Lead when leading, follow when being led: Everything in The School of Business is about teams. Sometimes you will be in charge and sometimes you may not. The easiest way to fail as a leader is to not follow when you are being led. People remember when you help them to achieve their vision and pay it forward when it’s your turn.

What inspires you?

I feel most inspired when creating something unique, and in that creative process, we’ve aligned people’s talents with tasks appropriately. I experienced this in our capstone project. In the beginning, we took a genuine catalog of people’s capabilities and designed a program around what each of us could potentially bring to the table. As a result, the end product far exceeded our original vision.

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