Executive MBA Helps Jason Hostetter Hone Business and Leadership Skills
By Scott Jackson
Jason Hostetter had already found success in his field when he began considering going back to school for his MBA. As senior vice president of field operations at TRC Companies, Hostetter (’23 EMBA) was involved in setting strategy for the organization and tackling tough industry issues like helping make business operations more efficient and growing and retaining a strong employee base.
TRC Companies bills itself as a leading global consulting, engineering, program, and construction management firm that provides environmentally-focused and digitally-powered solutions across key markets. Hostetter describes it as a multi-practice organization with wings of the company dedicated to power, infrastructure, and digital sectors, among others. His responsibilities include overseeing testing, commissioning, and construction management.
Hostetter had the idea of pursuing an MBA for years. With new technologies, cyber security risks, workforce development issues, and other challenges facing the industry, as well as encouragement from leadership within TRC Companies, it seemed like the right time.
“I believe part of being a good leader is continuing to expand your knowledge so you can help grow your people and grow your business,” he says.
Finding the right fit
When he first began looking, Hostetter, who lives in Pennsylvania, started with programs close to home, but it was difficult to find something that balanced well with his work and personal life. Many nearby programs required frequent in-person visits to a campus. With children in extracurricular activities and a leadership position in a large organization, Hostetter says the time sacrifice just wouldn’t have appealed to him.
Hostetter came across WSU’s Executive MBA program while researching alternatives, and while he was unsure if a fully online curriculum was for him, he was impressed with the Carson College of Business’s rankings. The reviews he received from people who had been through the program were overwhelmingly positive, he says.
“I had some reservations about being all online because I thought I’d miss some of the interactions with my fellow students,” he says. “But the way the program is set up, I was able to connect with a lot of people. I gained some relationships I’ll carry on throughout my career and the rest of my life.”
Skills and experience from EMBA program changes how you do business
Hostetter considers three things from the program to be most important.
The first was the programming surrounding data analytics. With the wealth of data available to modern companies, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. He says he not only received instruction on the use and application of analytics to make informed business decisions, but also strategies for implementation. Hostetter says he’s been able to apply these skills directly to his work with TRC Companies.
“I’ve used data before, but not in the way I use it today. That was a game changer for me,” he says.
The second piece was the opportunity to hone his writing skills. He says he’s always had a knack for writing, but being encouraged to explain his thoughts and debate them with his colleagues in the program helped sharpen those skills further.
The third piece was simply the opportunity to work and interact with professors and students from a diverse array of industries and geographic locations.
“I’m in the power industry, but I may be working with somebody who’s in pharmaceuticals, the banking industry, or the hotel industry,” he says. “You apply some of the same philosophies differently based on the business’s main product or services.”
Growing business grows opportunity for employees too
While he comes from an engineering background, Hostetter has more than 25 years of experience in leadership positions and says one of the most important traits in a leader is authenticity. In some ways, this means taking responsibility and ownership over your and your organization’s actions—successes as well as failures, he says.
On an individual level, he says authenticity can mean being true to your own leadership style.
“Everybody leads differently. You can learn things from other leaders, but being who you are is really important,” he says. “I try to treat everybody as a coworker and team member, not a subordinate—they respect that.”
In the near term, Hostetter aims to continue growing his organization and developing his employees: “If I do that well, my other aspirations will probably take care of themselves on their own,” he says.