How an MBA helped jumpstart this service member’s career

Chester Hungate (MBA ’24) started in the UF MBA program as a captain in the United States Army. His time in the program helped him recognize an opportunity to assist in the Army recruiting, and after graduation, he’ll transition to Marketing Officer at the Army Enterprise Marketing Office.

Q: Are you planning to stay in the military or transition to a new career outside of the military?

Hungate: “I am currently pursuing an MBA as part of a program called Performance Based Graduate School Incentive Program (PB-GSIP) with the United States Army. My goal has always been to complete my 20-year career in the Army, and UF MBA has helped me broaden my knowledge in business, behavioral economics and marketing. Taking the business concepts I have learned and applying them to my past military experience has made me a better leader and thinker to continue serving my country moving forward.”

Q: How did your UF MBA experience set you up for success in your new career?

Hungate: “At the beginning of the program, I planned to continue my career as an Army Armor officer. However, my perspective changed during my first module here at Warrington in my professional communication class. As part of the course, I completed an individual project surrounding a real problem that my company faces; I chose to focus on Army Recruiting. Through my research, I discovered a new and unique functional area within the US Army known as Functional Area (FA) 58 Army Enterprise and Behavioral Economics. 

“I found this new functional area to be intriguing, given the challenges the Army faces in recruiting new talent. This team is a small and diverse group of marketing officers that are challenged to communicate the Army’s value proposition to the younger generation of potential recruits. Their goal is to generate enough interest and curiosity so that the recruits seek further information, hoping, they ultimately choose to serve.

“Personally, I found this mission to be very impactful because the Army has provided so much for me and my family. I believed this would be a unique opportunity to utilize my skill set to assist in this mission and give back to an organization that has blessed me so incredibly. Professionally, I believe that this Functional Area is crucial for the Army to be successful, and dynamic in today’s recruiting landscape. Recruiting the best and brightest to the Army is important and offers so many young Americans unlimited possibilities to pursue passion with purpose and develop a lifelong community rooted in service.

“My MBA has been instrumental in preparation for this new career opportunity I have in the Army. The program’s core curriculum is extensive and covers all the basics, equipping MBA candidates, from any background, with the necessary tools to excel in any post-graduate role. In addition, the program’s small class size allows for direct coordination with faculty and other students, creating a close-knit experience among the entire cohort. The skills I acquired at UF have been invaluable in helping me perform at my best.”

Learn more about how UF MBA helps military members in their careers. 

Q: What is the most impactful part of the UF MBA experience for a military member?

Hungate: “The UF MBA experience for military personnel is highly impactful because it offers the opportunity to apply classroom learning in practical situations. The program follows a deliberate approach similar to our Army training, with phases of Plan/Preparation, Execution, and Assessment. The orientation, core curriculum, and professional development seminars serve as the Plan/Preparation phase, providing students with the foundation they need to succeed. The staff at Business Career Services then work tirelessly to test this foundation through interviewing and mandatory internal case competitions.

“All students, regardless of their effort level, leave with a better understanding of business dynamics. They are challenged to apply the concepts they have learned, think critically and develop creative approaches to test their business strategy and abilities through real-world scenarios. These cases put the students to the test and provide a unique experience that they can carry forward into their future careers. The program does an excellent job of assessing the students’ growth and development, providing them with key personal and professional takeaways. At Warrington, they encourage growth rather than striving for perfection, making it a unique academic experience, much like the lessons learned in key leadership roles serving in the military.”