Alumni Success Story: Jason DeBoer ’11

“Don’t think of your degree as a know-it-all ticket,” says Jason Deboer ‘11. “Once you land a great job, never stop listening and never stop learning.” Jase earned his MBA in Strategic Management from Davenport University and takes pride in the fact that he uses his degree every day in his job as a Category Marketing Manager of Decks, Docks & Porches at Universal Forest Products. Check out Jase’s full story below.

Tell us about yourself, Jason!

I grew up in the Grand Rapids area and went to Wyoming Park High School. I’ve gone by Jase since about 5th grade, and it’s just stayed with me. On July 15, I will be celebrating 11 years of marriage with my wife, Melissa. We have three kids: our 3-year old son, Miles and our 1-year old twin daughters, Elliott and Alexandria.

Why did you pick DU?

I decided I wanted to pursue my MBA while working for Gordon Food Service (GFS) – about two years after earning a BBA in Marketing. However, my job at the time required travel which would make it difficult to take in seat courses. I heard that Davenport had a great online MBA program so that would allow me to earn my MBA while traveling for work. That was really the ticket for me – being able to pull out my laptop and do my school work as I traveled for my job.

What was your experience like at DU?

Taking online classes was a great opportunity for me, and it really forced me to understand and be able to discuss the material.  I was able to meet people locally and far away such as different states and even as far as the Caribbean. Having group projects for online classes with group members in different time zones helped me learn collaboration at a whole new level which has helped in my career today. Another thing that I enjoyed about my time at DU was that my online professors were experts in their field. Most of my professors were currently or were recently working in the field that they were teaching. I took this as a great opportunity to learn from professionals with real-world experience and expertise.

In a nutshell, tell us about your career!

I started working for GFS in the warehouse while in undergrad. I was fortunate to turn that into an internship with the GFS Bid Department which was my first true experience in business. I continued as an intern and coordinator for about three years until I graduated with my BBA in Marketing. Around that time, I took a role with the GFS Canada Marketing Team, working on private brand marketing and brand management for about three more years.  In 2008, I enrolled in the Davenport MBA program and I also began a new job working for Daymon Worldwide – an in-house sales and marketing partner specializing in private brand development for retailers. Meijer was a large Daymon client at the time, and I worked in the Meijer office for three years. In 2011, I finished my MBA, and was promoted/transitioned from Grand Rapids to work with a client named Ahold USA located in Central Pennsylvania.

About 18 months later, my wife and I learned that we would be expecting our first child, and we decided to make our way back to Grand Rapids where I started working for Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFP).  I have worked in Merchandising and Marketing at UFP since 2012, and I truly enjoy my job. Each day, I work with outstanding people, and I have the opportunity to work on marketing efforts from packaging to retail store displays and social media to product development.  I’m very fortunate to call UFP home, and I look forward to continuing my career with such a great company.

What makes you unique?

I feel quite unique and lucky that I found a job and career in my field of study. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and my MBA in Strategic Management and I use my education every day in my job. Another thing that makes me unique is creativity, and a never-ending will to learn and stay relevant. In marketing, if you are not changing, you are drowning. You have to stay ahead of the trend and think, “new, new, new”.

How you you define success?

Personally, I define success as having the courage to be true to yourself; being brave enough to say this is who I am and this is what I want.

What motivates you?

My family is number one: my wife and my three awesome kids. I work to provide for them, and to teach my kids that hard work pays off. My second motivation is a bit more self-centered. I am bit of a perfectionist – sometimes to a fault – and I always have this internal drive to continually improve. I heard a quote one time that I will never forget – “you get what you settle for.” I love it because whatever you get in life is your choice. You can settle, or reach higher, and nobody can make that decision for you.

What is your dream job?

I laugh a bit now, but honestly, I originally wanted to go into marketing so that I could work for Budweiser and make super bowl commercials. I’m a huge craft beer enthusiast, and I’m fascinated at what that industry is doing right now. But when I think about my dream job today, it would be to teach. I want to share my experience and knowledge in marketing and strategic management with others who are looking to learn.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I spend most of my time taking care of my kids and spending time with my wife and family. I enjoy playing guitar when I find time, and I am a big Detroit Tigers fan. Another passion of mine is travel. I love visiting and exploring new places.

Do you have any advice DU recent grads?

Don’t think of your degree as a “know-it-all” ticket. Continue learning on the job. Your degree doesn’t make you a know-it-all; it provides opportunity, and it prepares you to succeed in the workplace, but you should never stop learning. Once you land that job, never stop listening and never stop learning.

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