Class of 2018: Navy retiree pursues degrees for a new career and a bigger management role

Education
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Over the course of more than three decades as a civilian employee at the Navy Safety Center, Bryan Davis, of Chesapeake, Virginia, honed many technical skills in data analytics, data mining, and database design, in addition to gaining a wide range of administrative experience.  

“I got into IT initially because I found out I was good at it,” said Davis. “And eventually IT led me to data analytics, because that is where the industry is going.”

On Dec. 14, Davis will receive a bachelor’s degree in management from the Pamplin College of Business. Retired from his most recent position as business intelligence manager in the Department of the Navy, Davis is continuing his education at Virginia Tech as a student in Virginia Tech’s highly ranked, online Master of Information Technology program and contemplating his next career move.

“It is not unusual for IT professionals to have advanced degrees, and I want to enhance my job skills and become more marketable,” said Davis. “My goal is to move into a bigger management role. Pursuing a master’s degree was not in my initial plan when I decided to go back to school, but Virginia Tech’s dual undergrad/graduate enrollment plan really appealed to me.”

During his career at the Naval Safety Center, Davis held the titles of software data developer and data systems manager before his final promotion to business intelligence manager. He earned a number of software certifications. His professional experience includes strategic planning, project planning, requirements identification and gathering, IT workforce planning, knowledge management, IT architecture, and infrastructure planning and management.  

In recognition of his work, Davis received a Letter of Appreciation from the president of the United States in November 2017. He also received a Meritorious Service Award from the commanding officer of the Naval Safety Center in August 2017.

His decision to retire and go back to school had a lot to do with perseverance, said Davis. It was important to him that he finish what he had started years ago, before he decided to delay his formal education to get a job, get married, and raise a family.

“While I was pretty confident in my analytical skills and finding solutions to complex problems, Pamplin was challenging, and I was not too sure how it was all going to go, but my Pamplin advisor, Katie Wells, is outstanding. I owe her a lot for her patience and guidance. By retiring and becoming a full-time student, I was able to graduate in three semesters,” said Davis, who began the master’s program in Pamplin this fall.

Davis’s courses at Pamplin included Quantitative Methods, Managerial Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Supply Chain Management, Strategic Management, Entrepreneurial Ventures, and Productivity and Quality Leadership.

He chose the Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology (EIT) option in the management major that seeks to equip students with an entrepreneurial mindset and the relevant skills to build and enhance organizations, from startups to large firms.

“I chose the EIT option because of the tie-in to my software skill set. I also liked that there were other classes in the option to explore areas of interest.”

Attending classes with so many younger undergrads could have been socially awkward, Davis said, but he did not find that to be the case.

“Certainly there are advantages to being an older student — a certain amount of knowledge just from life, maybe better time-management skills. My professional experience also gave me a better understanding of some of the specific classes I took,” he said.

“Pamplin College provided me with a high-quality education, and throughout my years on campus, the students and faculty were all so supportive,” said Davis. “Blacksburg really is a special place.” 

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