J. Taylor Willis, PE
Current title/organization: Senior Project Manager, Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC
Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?
A: Being an NC State undergraduate alumnus I recognized the quality of education NC State provides. When exploring my options it was logical to put NC State on the list. After evaluating several options NC State worked the best with my schedule and location.
Q: How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?
A: As an engineering undergrad I had many of the tools and skills to be successful in my line of work (i.e.Construction.) However, as I moved up within my organization I quickly realized that my business skills were lacking. I needed a better understanding of softer skills like persuasion, political savviness, people management, and tact. Going through the Jenkins MBA program introduced me to those topics and provided a solid foundation for me to learn and grow going forward in my career.
Q: What did you enjoy most about your time in the Jenkins MBA program?
A: I really enjoyed the international trip to Beijing. It exposed me to a different culture, one that is very different than ours.
Q: What are a few of the most impactful classes/lessons you learned during your time at NC State?
A: The coursework was great and I still refer to many of the case studies and course readings when appropriate. But more than anything else, I learned that one must reflect on the past to learn to be better in the future. It can be as simple as reflecting on a meeting immediately after it has ended or reflecting on the bigger picture of the prior calendar year. Either way, for you to learn to be a better employee, individual, father, or husband you must look back at the choices and actions you took to determine if they were correct or incorrect, or could be improved upon in some way. Thoughtful reflection leads to positive changes in behavior.
Q: What advice do you have for prospective Jenkins MBA students?
A: Do not pursue an MBA for the sake of obtaining another degree. Have a plan and know what you want to get from the program. Identify your weaknesses and your goals and if the Jenkins MBA program will help to remedy those weaknesses or obtain those goals then pursue the MBA with focus and passion. The program is challenging and very time consuming, but if you have a plan for what you intend to gain from the program then it is all worthwhile.
Q: Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work, and what has led you to it?
A: I am a Senior Project Manager with Brasfield & Gorrie. We are one of the largest general contractors in the nation and consistently rank in the top I’ve for healthcare construction. My recent project was a $260+ million (construction cost) hospital expansion for Mission Health System, now owned by HCA Healthcare, in Asheville, North Carolina. My undergraduate degree in engineering got me into the field and my MBA has helped me to become a better manager.