Ryan Derus

Ryan Derus

University of Wisconsin‑Madison, Wisconsin School of Business

MBA Graduation Year: 2015

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Current Job: Project and Lean Specialist, BloodCenter of Wisconsin


Ryan started his professional career in health care as a laboratory technologist and looked to move into a business strategy role. He chose the Wisconsin Evening MBA because it would position him to switch careers and advance to a higher level. Ryan graduated with versatile business skills and now works as a strategy analyst for a major health care provider.

I felt nervous about going back to school, especially to get my MBA. But I wanted that foundation, to understand business and advance my career. As an undergraduate, I didn’t take accounting, economics, or other traditional business courses.

I chose the Wisconsin School of Business because of the personal connection I felt with the program staff. We were in constant communication via email, phone, and in person at events. They said, "you will get a network, you will get a good experience, you will be able to apply these things." I thought it was just one of those things everyone advertises. What I actually received was friendships, partnerships, and a real network. When it got tough, I was able to persevere because of that support. It was like I had a family two days a week—learning new skills, laughing, talking about work, and just spending time together.

My current role is much more strategy focused, using finances to make decisions while really looking at the big picture.

—Ryan Derus

You learn a lot from industry practitioners, and it’s hard to put a value on that. My classmates included everyone from hospital administrators to engineers, and even scientists like myself. It was a nice melting pot of backgrounds and professional careers coming together. For example, there was a lecturer who taught my international finance class who was once the chief economist of Portugal. That’s the kind of caliber you can expect at Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Evening MBA propelled me into the promotion I received. My current role is much more strategy focused, using finances to make decisions while really looking at the big picture. It’s changed the way I approach and understand problems. Instead of coming up with my own solution, I run the different risks and scenarios instead of just looking at this small challenge.

You are going to be steps ahead of those around you in the workplace when you graduate. Don’t wait. It’s always going to get harder to go back to get your MBA. Things change. Jobs become more rigorous. Family life changes. If you wait, you’re missing out on professional opportunities and the chance to create lasting bonds with classmates.