Why this Veteran Marine chose Auburn for his Executive MBA


Auburn HCOB
Josiah “JD” Vernon, a veteran and a current candidate in Auburn University’s Executive MBA program. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

After leaving the Marine Corps, landing a job as Regional Sales Manager for manufacturer Pactiv Evergreen and moving to Birmingham, Josiah “JD” Vernon sought a new way to be challenged effectively while improving his skills and knowledge of the business world. The Executive MBA program at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business provided that challenge while offering the flexibility JD needed as a working professional.

Keep reading to learn about JD’s story and click here to learn more about Auburn University’s Executive MBA program.

Meet Josiah “JD” Vernon

Born and raised in the Florida Panhandle, Josiah “JD” Vernon spent his formative years surfing and exploring 30A. An avid researcher of history, JD decided to study history at Flagler College, a small, private college in St. Augustine. While attending Flagler, JD joined the Marine Corps through their officer candidate school program and spent two summers at Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.

After graduating from Flagler, JD was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. Over the next eight years, JD was stationed in multiple locations throughout the world. In fact, it was on the way home on post-deployment leave that he met his wife, Jennifer.

“My wife and I met on a delayed flight at the Honolulu airport. We hit it off in the airport, but they couldn’t fix the plane that day and put everybody up in a hotel. We ran into each other on the beach the next morning and spent the whole day together! We kept in touch, began dating and ended up getting married after my last deployment.”

Josiah “JD” Vernon
JD proposed to his wife, Jennifer, during a hike to a summit on Oahu, one of the Hawaiian island. (JD Vernon)

After completing his service with the Marine Corps, JD and Jennifer moved to Greenville, South Carolina and landed a job as Regional Sales Manager for food packaging manufacturer Pactiv Evergreen. When their son Jack was born, the couple chose to move to Birmingham in order to be closer to family.

Why JD is pursuing an MBA with Auburn’s Harbert College of Business

Auburn HCOB
Josiah “JD” Vernon with his wife, Jennifer, their son Jack and their dog Gunner. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

JD has wanted to pursue a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) for a long time, but life kept getting in the way. During his time in the Marine Corps, multiple deployments and training in-between took precedence and prohibited him from continuing his education. After moving to Birmingham, JD took the opportunity to look seriously into pursing an MBA.

“I researched several MBA programs across the country, but I had always heard great things about the MBA program at Auburn University. I wanted to be challenged effectively, and one of my goals was to learn skills from a respected organization that I could immediately utilize and apply to my career.

In my case, my wife and I both have full-time jobs that includes travel, as well as a three-year old. Balancing our family obligations was going to be challenging with a traditional, in-person MBA. As I learned more about Auburn’s program, I learned about the Executive MBA program and was immediately hooked.”

Josiah “JD” Vernon
Auburn HCOB
JD’s home office setup. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Auburn’s Executive MBA program is tailored to professionals with eight or more years of experience, and blends short, on-campus residencies with online courses for best of both worlds. During the on-campus residencies, students will learn from their peers and receive classroom instruction from expert faculty. Then, students can complete the program through online courses that offer the flexibility to balance career, family and education.

“I’ve had buddies that are in MBA programs that require in-person learning on a regular basis, whether it’s once a week or once a month. That’s something I would have struggled with, given my work schedule. With Auburn EMBA’s on-campus residency format, I’m able to spend quality time getting to know my cohort before we go our separate ways—which gives me the flexibility to learn on my own schedule.

Josiah “JD” Vernon

Click here to learn more about Auburn’s Executive MBA program.

Learning New Skills and Making New Connections

Auburn HCOB
JD gets most of his EMBA studies done in his home office. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Currently, JD is in his third semester of the Executive MBA program at Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business. When he’s not at work or spending time with his family, JD is in his home office taking the latest EMBA course.

“In every course I’ve taken in the EMBA program, I’ve learned something that I could turn around and apply directly to my job. We’re learning about finance and supply chains right now, which is very valuable to me as an employee of a manufacturing organization.”

Josiah “JD” Vernon

In the EMBA program, students don’t just learn from their professors—they are able to share knowledge and experience with other members of their cohort.

“The Harbert College of Business takes a tremendous amount of time to ensure that each EMBA student is the best fit for their cohort. And their effort pays off. The professors are fantastic, and students are learning as much—if not more—from their peers. I live in Birmingham, but I have peers from all across the country in my cohort. Auburn’s EMBA program really gives you the opportunity to learn from each other and then make those professional connections in the classroom.”

Josiah “JD” Vernon

Is Auburn University’s EMBA the right fit for you? Here’s how you can find out.

Auburn HCOB
JD and his son, Jack are both big Auburn fans! (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

If you’re a working professional looking to expand your skill set without taking a break from your career, Auburn University’s Executive MBA program could be the answer. Schedule an appointment with their program admission advisor today to learn how this program can impact your career.

“Auburn’s EMBA program is going to challenge you, as any good MBA program should. But you are going to learn skills that will immediately make you a more valuable employee, and it’s going to show you how to get your career where you want it to go very quickly. From a career progression standpoint, you are going to see results right away. Plus, you are going to build a network of peers that are both personal friends and great professional assets to have. As a veteran, it is important to have a cohort of peers to lean on.”

Josiah “JD” Vernon

Click here to learn more about Auburn’s Executive MBA program and check out the Harbert College of Business on FacebookInstagramTwitterYouTube and LinkedIn

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

Articles: 726