Classroom lessons brought to life for JD/EMBA grad

March 28, 2014
Jared Jones

When Jared Jones graduated with his JD/EMBA degree in 2012, he didn't anticipate that one of his classroom lessons would literally be brought to life for him. But that's exactly what happened.

Jones began working as an attorney at Lewis, Glasser, Casey & Rollins in Charleston, W.Va., right after graduation. By August of 2012, he was assigned a case regarding a property transaction in St. Albans, W.Va., for a Mr. Charles W. "Whickham" Skinner, Jr. and his sisters. The property in question was originally built by Collis P. Huntington, for which Huntington, W.Va. was named, and therefore had historical significance. It was one of Jones's first cases where he was the lead council.

When Jones began doing some research on his client, he thought the name sounded awfully familiar.

"I was doing my research and realized that Skinner was a rather astonishing man," Jones said. "Then, I realized I had studied his work in the MBA program."

It turned out that Skinner, a former professor at the Harvard Business School, was the author of a widely noted article titled "The Focused Factory." Printed in The Harvard Business Review, this particular article had about a quarter of a million reprints and is considered standard reading for many MBA programs. It was a particularly memorable article to Jones, who was fascinated to hear about the study from Skinner firsthand.

"I spent 10 years in industry with Honeywell Company, in production, marketing, sales and finance, when I decided to try my hand at teaching," Skinner said. "There, I did a research report regarding the problems in manufacturing in the business world. I could see American industry starting to slip in terms of quality of top management. In business schools at the time, they were teaching theoretical, mathematical, academic subjects," he recalled.

"I got started thinking about what the real problems truly were. There were improvements all the time in productivity, but (America) was losing market shares worldwide. I discovered that (businesses') efforts were not very focused, so I developed the theory of the Focused Factory. A factory must decide what they want to be especially good at, and concentrate everything on that particular goal," Skinner said.

Jones admitted he was a little star struck once he put two and two together, realizing just who he was working for.

"Running into someone like Mr. Skinner and forming a friendship, I don't think that's common among many MBAs," Jones said. Skinner agreed.

"It's an amazing coincidence that I was doing business with someone who remembered my article," Skinner said. He was pleased with Jones's work as his attorney. "It has been a very big advantage for Jared, having an MBA while practicing law," Skinner said. "He did a terrific job for us."

Jones certainly feels that his MBA has been a huge help throughout his career so far.

"I knew that I wanted to practice lots of business law, so I knew it was a good move (to complete the JD/EMBA dual-degree program," Jones said. "In law, you don't have to be an expert in your client's business, but clients really appreciate it when you are."