After two deployments to Iraq and nearly five years of active service in the U.S. Army, Captain John Perez ’12 began researching business schools. He was ready to transition to a civilian career, but he wanted an MBA program that would echo one of the military’s defining themes: a clear and compelling sense of mission.
“The military is inherently mission-driven,” says Perez, now a senior manager at Johnson & Johnson. “Individuals are expected to be leaders, regardless of rank, and to achieve the goals they’ve been given, typically operating across functions. I was looking to build on that.”
In the Yale School of Management’s full-time MBA program, Perez says, he found what he needed, and gained the kind of leadership skills and insights that led him to a new role in the dynamic healthcare industry.
“SOM develops leaders for business and society, in a culture and with a curriculum that brings people and functions together,” Perez explains. “It’s a great place for veterans. Our perspectives are valued and sought after, and the School helped me navigate the transition to a career that fit my skill set and interests.”
The value of Perez’s Yale SOM education became apparent when he joined Johnson & Johnson after graduating.
“During my first year, I managed a project to reorganize a team of about 120 individuals,” Perez says. “It was a daunting and complex task.”
Perez says he began by approaching the project from all the viewpoints involved—drawing on lessons he learned in Yale SOM’s core curriculum, which teaches students to address business problems by analyzing them from various stakeholder perspectives.
“I took into account how my internal customers might react, what the restructuring’s financial implications would be, and how I could use the project to drive innovation in our deliverables,” he says. “I was then better able to anticipate and think through all the related questions.”
The project took nine months from kickoff to implementation. “I’m happy to say that we delivered against our goals, and the new model is still in place today,” Perez says. “We were successful because we looked beyond just the organizational behavior and employee implications to the operational, financial, customer relations, and other perspectives. It was a textbook example of SOM’s core in action.”
Today, four years and three job title changes later, Perez says that his MBA education is still paying off. As senior manager for advanced sourcing and innovation in Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Medical Devices group, Perez’s role revolves around connecting the product pipeline with the supply chain and suppliers in a way that drives innovation and fulfills patients’ unmet needs.
“Yale SOM provided a great baseline for how to think about all complex business problems,” he says. “I have yet to experience an issue that is exclusively within one corporate function or requires only one discipline or perspective to develop a solution. The ability to first see an issue from multiple perspectives and then have the technical knowledge to explore it in depth from each perspective is what SOM really gave me.”
Perez recently served as a board member of and remains active in the Yale Veterans Association (YVA), a global alumni nonprofit organization, advocating for issues on campus and introducing veterans to the school.
“The SOM education offers leadership training and skills that see you into the future,” he says. “It’s wonderful to see Yale now being recognized as such a welcoming environment for military veterans.”