There was not much “golden” about David Ewert’s first job out of college.
“This was back in the ‘80s when the job market was a little easier for college graduates,” said Ewert, who graduated from a local state university with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. “I took a job with a company close to home – very nice building, big office and powerful name.
“I soon realized that this was basically a sales job in disguise,” he added. “With no prior training in sales and not wanting to cold call all my friends and relatives for investment opportunities, anxiety about my long-term future started to rise.”
Ewert decided to enhance his employment opportunities by earning a master’s degree.
“I wanted to differentiate myself, possess something your average job candidate with limited work experience didn’t have,” he said.
He chose Benedictine University for his master’s degree studies.
“I’d always heard good things about Benedictine’s master’s programs,” he said. “I knew about the longevity, going back to George Williams College. It was close to home, and the evening and weekend hours worked out well with my work schedule.”
Ewert went back to school and earned not one, but two master’s degrees from Benedictine. Today, he is an executive in the Learning Strategies and Technologies division at McDonald’s Corp., which has more than 32,000 restaurants and 1.7 million employees worldwide.
“I might have been an oddity,” he said. “I think I found every class at Benedictine interesting in one way or another. The light bulb really went on for me when I took my first Organizational Behavior class, probably around 1988.
“Dr. (Peter) Sorensen opened the door by showing us that people learn, manage and behave quite differently in organizations based on quite a number of factors. We learned about organizational culture, motivational theories, leadership theories and situational analysis.
“This course intrigued my curiosity for why I might deal with a work situation differently than someone else,” Ewert said.
Ewert said tagging along with Sorensen and former Benedictine professor Thomas C. Head to attend professional conferences at George Williams College in Lake Geneva, Wis., was among the highlights of his academic career.
“I have had so many wonderful faculty members, mentors and advisors,” he said. “Peter Sorensen and Tom Head from the master’s programs, and the entire faculty from the Ph.D. program – Peter, Jim (Ludema), Ram (Tenkasi) and Therese (Yaeger).”
Ewert was so blown away by his initial Benedictine experience, he decided to come back for more a few years later, earning a Ph.D. in Organization Development from Benedictine University in 2008.
“I learned so many, many things, like spirituality in the workplace, the deep essence of group dynamics and high performance teams, and optimizing the psychological experience in the workplace,” he said.
“Some of the topics we studied – like organizational culture and survey development – have been extremely beneficial to me at work,” Ewert added.
Ewert has become something of a living, breathing resource for his co-workers at McDonald’s. He gives much of the credit to Benedictine.
“I’m a relatively easy-going person,” he said. “This isn’t typically what organizations are looking for. However, there’s also something to be said when the silent person talks.
“At work, I’m considered a subject matter expert in a number of different areas,” Ewert added. “That’s mainly because of my Benedictine education.”