Working in the hospitality industry demands long hours. How can a professional in this field pursue an advanced degree, and, more important, do you even need an MBA to reach the top? Discover how JWU College of Online Education student and Marriott Market Revenue Management Leader Christal Byars makes graduate studies possible — and why she believes it’s necessary for her career goals.
Christal Byars ’17
Master of Business Administration (MBA)
What was your motivation for pursuing an MBA?
“My life dream was to be a CPA … until I took a horrific accounting class as an undergrad! I switched to hotel-restaurant management, and I’ve worked for Marriott for 20 years in leadership roles from sales to marketing to, now, revenue management. I’m currently responsible for six hotels in the Denver area and set the pricing strategy of each. Marriott is constantly innovating, and as an employee, I feel like the sky's the limit! I noticed that many of the Senior Leadership roles within the company require an MBA – even if they don’t, I know it would help set me apart.”
How did you learn about JWU College of Online Education and decide on your degree?
“I saw an ad in a business journal for the online MBA program. I live near the Stapleton [Denver] campus, so I was already familiar with Johnson & Wales. I decided on the general MBA instead of MBA with a concentration in Hospitality because I was already in the industry.”
Why does online learning work for you?
“Before I enrolled with Johnson & Wales, I looked into a local Executive MBA program. It had a classroom and international component. It wasn’t going to work for me because I needed the flexibility to move with my job, if needed, and not be locked into one location.”
What has your online learning experience been like so far? Are your classes applicable to your career?
“I’m three classes in, and every class I’ve taken has been phenomenal. My first class wigged me out because I was trying to learn the online system and keep up with the coursework. I gave it everything I had, and now I love the fact that I can learn from home. I thought I’d miss the classroom’s ‘touchy-feely’ environment, but I’m so thankful I have the online option! I’ve had classes with some of the same students, which is nice. And it’s great that they’re from all over the country, with many different types of backgrounds. I actually look forward to doing classwork! My Effective Leadership class that I’m taking now is phenomenal. I find myself thinking, ‘How can I use this in my day-to-day job?’ Every class I’ve taken has been relevant.”
What types of student resources have you used?
“During my Research Methods class I reached out to the librarian, and she was quick to reply and sent me tons of sources. She even said I could come into the on-campus library for more help, if I needed to! Also, just this morning on the suggestion of my advisor, I sent my résumé to Career Services for feedback. With so many years of experience, I feel like my résumé just goes on and on, so I’m hoping for advice on how to make it better.”
"An MBA is a differentiator. Education ups your game."
What are the benefits of an advanced degree in the hospitality industry?
“I think that it gives you much more opportunity within the company you work for and even outside the discipline. It also gives you much more confidence going into an interview, and it makes you a more viable candidate. A bachelor’s degree used to be the entry point into the industry. During the recession, the younger generation stayed in school and got their MBAs, so they are more educated than ever and it makes it more competitive. An MBA is a differentiator. Education ups your game.”
Interested in learning more about Johnson & Wales’s online MBA or MBA – Hospitality degree? Contact us at 855-JWU-1881 or [email protected]. You can also fill out the “Request Info” form on this page.