Executive MBA program propels B&E alum from coal mines to leadership role

A degree – even working toward a degree – can drive a person’s career in unexpected directions. Tim Mason, a 2015 graduate of the College of Business and Economics online Executive MBA program, learned just that as he forged his way from a foreman in the coalmines to director of operations of the northern region for Extreme Plastics Plus.

“I decided to join the program because I was working in an underground coalmine that required long hours, no days off and very little time with my family,” Mason said. “I viewed the EMBA as a tool that could open a pathway out of the mine.”

Mason began the online MBA program in Fall 2013, and one month after completing his first semester, he had an interview for a position as a financial analyst for his current employer, a large oil and gas contractor.

“[Extreme Plastics Plus] was extremely impressed with my willingness to drop a banking job and go underground. They were also impressed that I was working long hours and doing a master’s degree as well,” he said. “I didn’t get that position, but they gave me an operations analyst position instead. It was attributed pretty much to the fact that I was getting my MBA.”

Prior to working as a maintenance foreman for Patriot Coal and a section foreman for CONSOL Energy, Mason was originally in banking as a business development officer for Centra Bank, but left when the market took a downturn between 2008 and 2009. He was no longer happy sitting in an office all day.

Mason’s good fortune and hard work did not waiver with his new position at this new company.

“I worked through the online MBA program and had been with my current employer for almost a year and a half. Two weeks before graduation, they promoted me to director of operations,” Mason said. “I have been able to utilize the knowledge and apply the tools and principles I learned in the program to my positions within the company and help it to become more efficient and continue to grow.”

Extreme Plastics Plus is an environmental containment company that specializes in providing environmental lining, above ground storage tanks, composite rig mats and more. As the director of operations for the northern region, the online Executive MBA graduate is in charge of all operations in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Mason says no two days are alike in his role at Extreme Plastics Plus, which he enjoys.

“Some days you deal with a lot of staffing issues. Other days you deal with a lot of logistical issues – making sure materials get to where they need to go or working with drivers. Another day you are working with HR issues – payroll, benefits and so on. I am constantly being pulled in several different directions,” Mason said. “The day goes until about 7:30 p.m., and then I head home. And it doesn’t always stop there. I sometimes get calls in the evening. It’s very interesting, and it’s fun. It’s never redundant or mundane because I’m not doing the same thing every day.”

With all this commotion, Mason says that’s where the concepts he learned in the online Executive MBA program come into play.

“Honestly, the confusion is my favorite part of my job. There are so many things going on, so many moving parts to my job. It gets frustrating sometimes, but that’s what makes it interesting and makes everything work. At the end of the day when things work out, it’s very fulfilling to know that I helped to make it all happen,” he said.

Mason was born and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia. He says there’s no place like his home state and his alma mater.

“I tell everyone I can about the online Executive MBA program; the people you meet in the program – it is so diverse. Different careers. Different industries. Different ages. Different experience levels,” he said. “It’s a great program. It’s structured to accommodate busy lifestyles of those who want to continue their education while still working. And with that, it teaches you a lot.”