Student Spotlight: Jeffrey Adams, B.S. — Business Studies ‘24

Student Spotlight: Jeffrey Adams, B.S. — Business Studies ‘24

Student Spotlight: Jeffrey Adams, B.S. — Business Studies ‘24 banner

Director of Dispatch Operations at AAA Northeast

At 52, Jeff has a successful business career. As the Director of Dispatch Operations at AAA Northeast, Jeff loves the company and plans to work for AAA until he retires. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education degree years ago. So, we wondered why Jeff chose to enroll in the Bachelor of Science — Business Studies degree program at JWU CPS, instead of starting classes to earn his Master of Business Administration degree.

Since 2003, I have pursued a career in business, and have never looked back.
For 20 of my 30 years in the workforce, I have been managing call center and customer service operations. My first job, working in the grocery business, went well — I even received a promotion. Then in 2003, I was hired by a major bank. When in 2005, I moved to Rhode Island from New Mexico, I continued working for the bank as a unit manager, looking to move up to be a site director.

A bit of career advice I learned from a respected manager — before you can achieve the level of site director, you first need to learn all of the various aspects of the operation. Following his suggestions, I took a number of lateral moves into different support areas. I became a leader, managing about 150 people, earning a position as Vice President and Workforce Incident Manager. I felt ready to take on a director level leadership role.

My name was in the hat for a director’s position in Tampa. However, my wife and I had agreed, especially after we had our twin girls, that we would stay in Rhode Island where my wife’s family is located. I had enjoyed my time with the bank — but the company had no openings for a site director local to where we were living.

A friend and former manager referred me to his friend, because she had an opening for a director level role at AAA Northeast. While still on vacation, just before Labor Day, I interviewed at AAA. Offered the position of Director of Call Center and Internal Operations, I started right after the holiday weekend in September 2014.

I became responsible for a staff of 500 employees and directed strategy for the day-to-day operations of the AAA Northeast Road Service and Membership call centers. As of January 2024, my new title is Director of Dispatch Operations – a role I asked for that allows me to concentrate my energy and efforts towards the road service side of the business.

Looking forward, I have about 15 years until I retire. I could continue in my current managerial role, but I asked myself, ‘What can I do with this time?’ I recognized that I am not content to coast. I prefer to take on new and challenging roles and contribute more to my company.

I enjoy working with people and feel I have a solid foundation in customer service and employee relations. I know I can make an operation run — but I needed to understand how I can set the course of an operation. Wanting to marry the practical experience I’ve gained in business with knowledge about how to manage operations more strategically, a few years ago I decided to return to school.

I had all of the core course requirements to start earning an MBA degree.
By transferring credits from my earlier bachelor’s degree — math, English and other general education courses — I could have jumped right into the MBA program. I have plenty of old school core business knowledge, but I wanted to stretch myself and grow. JWU’s Business Studies degree covers a broad range of disciplines, including operational management, human resources, marketing and analytical skills – it’s the whole package. It made sense for me to first take the undergraduate pieces of the business degree before pursuing the MBA.

After submitting the online interest form, I was contacted right away by the admissions staff. The transfer team evaluated my college transcripts. My academic advisor has taken care of my class registrations for every semester — I haven’t had to register for a class by myself since I enrolled.


Returning to school later in my life, I’m discovering how much joy I find in learning.
I’ve been taking one class at a time, because I have a day job and a family — my wife and twins. I’m having a blast! Taking the first history course since college 25 years ago, I’m totally “geeking” out reading about history. I wish I had been this focused on my classes when I went through college the first time.

The business analytics classes fascinated me.
I have been looking at spreadsheets and considering costs in this business for years. The data and spreadsheet classes I’ve been taking have changed how I view business operations and decision making. The program has deepened my understanding of how to use analytics to identify what is a real trend, so that I know when there is something I can work on. If I see something that looks significant, but the data shows it is only a couple of calls out of the 8,000 calls we handled that day, I understand that focusing on that event is not going to make a difference for us.

Equally important to understanding how to use analytics is the ability to communicate the data to the people I work with. When we’re trying to make a case for something or make a change, now I am able to put the pieces together in a PowerPoint presentation to convey the information to my partners.

Who knew that I would love learning about marketing?
I was surprised to learn how much science is behind marketing. In the past I thought that marketing was smoke and mirrors — ‘put this up and see if it works’ — but there is a lot of data and research that goes into marketing. We have a business team that focuses on driving website traffic volume for our digital marketing campaigns. I’ve spent a lot of time with the digital marketers to learn about what they do.

I am fascinated by the team’s use of Adobe software in real time. Observing how you can split test with A/B versions of an ad, see which one the majority of customers prefer – and make a business decision in a minute — has sparked my interest in possibly pursuing a digital marketing role at AAA.

My understanding of the bigger picture, and the ability to pair knowledge about marketing with my twenty years of business experience, helps me make better business decisions. A better knowledge of how marketing works helps me contribute to strategic decisions within my department and at the organizational level.

I didn’t expect how much I would learn in the Human Resource courses.
Learning about HR, I have gained insight into the goals we want to achieve in the call center. I’ve become more effective in partnering with my human resources colleagues to bring in better candidates.

I can have an informed conversation about compensation with colleagues I’ve worked with for years. It’s not just a matter of saying, ‘Let’s give people more money.’ There is a method and a process that we have to follow to determine how much pay and what benefits we should offer. Understanding the method through my studies, I am better able to partner with my comp people to make those decisions.

For example, during a recent discussion about geographic pay differentials, I asked, “Do we really need to have a geographical differential anymore when everybody’s working from their home?” I’m not challenging my colleagues or telling them what to do, but being a little better educated about these issues, I am able to contribute to the process.

Human Resources is about people. However, from a business standpoint, when we set up work requirements for a new role, we need to be mindful of labor laws. In the Human Resources course, I learned how to use non-discriminatory language to write better job descriptions to ensure that we are compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).

At AAA, when we describe what someone needs to be able to do and the hours required to accomplish those tasks, we have to consider what a state requires, even for lunchtime. AAA is based in multiple states; for example, Rhode Island requires a different amount of time than Massachusetts does. New York State requires something completely different. Especially where jobs are virtual, having to put all of those legal requirements together can be daunting.

The program is helping me adapt to rapidly changing workforce needs.
Over the past three years, the call center has evolved tremendously. Recently we have been reviewing and redefining roles in the call center. As the company changes, we need to revise job descriptions that no longer match the way we work and the goals we want to accomplish. When we specify competencies for open positions, we need to consider not just what we need personnel to do now, but what we need them to do as we move into the future.

Before everyone went home during COVID-19, we were able to walk over to someone’s desk to help them with a task. In-person assistance no longer applies. As a supervisor, my ability to assist someone remotely compared with helping them side-by-side in the call center demands a different skill set. In addition, the call center staff we hire need to be capable of working a little more independently.

A great outcome of this program is that I have learned to adapt, in a rapidly changing workforce, to what employees are looking for in their work. When putting together compensation, it is more than just about money. Post-COVID-19, people want more than a paycheck — they want to feel they are part of something. They also want more flexibility in where and how they work. The program has helped me gain a deeper understanding of how to find what excites and engages people I supervise, so that they will feel more fulfilled in their roles at AAA Northeast.

Understanding these changing work needs is essential to defining competencies. Without that understanding, it will be incredibly frustrating when the candidates we hire do not have the skills needed or feel aligned with the work conditions we offer for an employee in that position. Fortunately, the Business Studies program has given me a fresh perspective and current information, so that I understand how to write job descriptions that bring in candidates with the skills and qualities we need.


When I first enrolled at JWU CPS, I thought, ‘This is great. I’m ready to start the program.’ I was sure I knew how I would manage my time to balance school, work and family time. Then during the first week of class, my family and I went to Florida on vacation. I found myself down in the lobby of the Disney resort doing homework while my family was sleeping.

Establishing a regular schedule is important. So, after returning from vacation, I set up my homework times. Typically, I have an assignment due on Thursday. So, on Monday or Tuesday night, I start working on that piece, with a plan to complete the assignment by Thursday. I will often do schoolwork early on Saturday and Sunday morning at 5am, before anyone else gets up. Once I found my groove, I was all set.

Occasionally I’ve scheduled a couple of vacation days, knowing I have a project due. That way I can take the full day to focus on getting a specific assignment done. There isn’t one way for everyone to manage time — it’s really about finding the schedule that works for you so that you can stick to it.

Clear communication is key to balancing between work, school and family.
My experience in the program has taught me the importance of maintaining clear and transparent communication with family members. I am thankful I’ve had that communication with my wife, Kathy. Right at the beginning, we had the conversation about the time I would need to do my schoolwork. I included my girls in that conversation, because they like their daddy time, and I like playing with them. By being clear up front about why I am doing this and how much time I need to be successful in the program, I have had their full support.

Transparency has also been important in maintaining my work commitments. I will let people know: ‘I’m going to leave at this time’ or ‘I’m going to logout. Later I will log back in and finish things up.’ By clearly communicating with everyone, I have had the support of my company.

Don’t hesitate to communicate with your teachers. Reach out right away when you have questions — don’t wait until the end. Everybody — the professors, the administrative team and the financial services team — have been very timely in getting back to me. Make use of all of the help available to you. At JWU CPS, you don’t have to do it alone.


Online education has helped me embrace the technology needed to work in a virtual world.
All of my education in the past has been face to face. Learning online was an adjustment. Looking back, I wish I’d have known a little more at the beginning of my program about how virtual learning works. Even working many years in business, I was unfamiliar with Zoom meetings and other ways in which to work virtually with others. In the business courses, we were assigned to a small group to work with other class members on a specific part of the project.

Some of the classes included exercises in which were running a business and making decisions together. I would have liked to have been more familiar with how, when in smaller groups, students collaborate on projects. I assumed we would email or call each other or meet at the library. In today’s virtual learning environment, classmates typically no longer meet in person.

During my first class, my classmates educated me about ways in which to connect. I had been emailing back and forth with some of them until they enlightened me about Google Meet. Once I learned about a new platform, I had to get comfortable enough with the technology to be able to contribute to my group. When I began my second course, virtual meeting platforms were listed in the syllabus and the instructor suggested we use them for a project. By then, I was familiar with these platforms and with apps to access them, so I enthusiastically responded, ‘Yes, let’s do that.’

As I became more fluent with current technology, I enjoyed learning about productivity tools. One of the most helpful has been Slack, a cloud-based team communication platform. We’re now using Slack at work. Before I enrolled in the program, I wouldn’t have known about most of these. Learning about these tools has been another benefit that I have been able to bring from my classes to my team at work.


Right from the first email I sent them, Jess Rounds and her team of advisors have been phenomenal. Jess’ inside information and guidance about what courses to take and in what order to take them has been invaluable, especially as I began the program. A lot of my prerequisites were fulfilled by the courses I was able to transfer in. I looked at courses that I thought would be interesting, without knowing much about them. Jess told me that taking the Excel course before the analytics course would help me get the most out of learning analytics. Her recommendations have kept me engaged throughout my program.

Jess has already been guiding me through the process of applying to the graduate school. I plan to take some well-deserved time off in the summer after I graduate. Then I look forward to beginning the MBA degree classes in the fall.


The Bachelor of Science in Business Studies program has deepened my understanding of human resources, marketing and analytics — all of which are essential to my ability to grow and contribute to my organization. I’ve gained proficiency in business technology critical to communicating and collaborating with partners in my workplace.

The business studies program has encouraged me to explore new opportunities. I’ve been touring the different departments at AAA Northeast to learn more about each one. I am now open to new possibilities that likely I would not even have considered before studying at JWU.

Going back to school in my fifties has not been easy.
The business courses are challenging, but in a good way. The support at JWU CPS has helped me meet those challenges. From my initial inquiry, to getting the transcript evaluation process rolling, to the help in selecting and registering for the courses, assistance from JWU staff has made the process of taking online education easy.

The professors have been more than gracious in responding when I have reach out to them. I have learned something in every class I have taken.

I have a great team at AAA Northeast and enjoy overseeing the call center operations. The undergraduate business studies courses at JWU CPS are already helping me contribute to the company, while setting me up to take on more challenging roles in the future. I look forward to how much more I will grow and be able to contribute when I begin taking classes at JWU for the MBA degree.

Being in the program has been a wonderful experience and definitely worth the time and cost.
I chose JWU CPS for my degree after looking at different options, in part because a co-worker raved about the program and what you get for the money. As I complete the business studies undergraduate degree, I think the value cost-wise for what I am getting out of the program is tremendous.

I have two more classes and then the capstone project to complete the undergraduate degree. Eligible to walk during May 2024, I was thinking that at 50-something, I don’t need to be part of the commencement ceremony. My wife, who is much smarter than I am said, “Oh, no, you need to walk. Your daughters should see you walk.” So, I am going to walk, because there is no age limit on being excited to celebrate with family the major milestone of receiving my Bachelor of Science in Business Studies degree!

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