2017 Best EMBAs: Brandon R. Bingham, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Brandon R. Bingham

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“Motivated businessman; thirsty for knowledge, experiences, and success.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Oceanside, CA

Family Members: Katie (wife) Britton (daughter)

Fun fact about yourself: Unfortunately I have a lot of space in my brain taken up by sports trivia.  I know a lot about baseball from 1920-1970…

Undergraduate School and Degree: I do not have an undergraduate degree. Students are not admitted to MBA programs at the W. P. Carey School of Business without an undergrad degree, but Dean Amy Hillman granted an exception for me because of my work history and experience.

Where are you currently working? Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, as the General Manager/Operating Partner at Cerritos Nissan in LA. I am responsible for all operations at this facility and its 210 employees. 

 Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I enjoy golf when I am not at school or work. Of course, like a lot of things in my life, community work has taken a little bit of a back burner recently. My company and I are very active in the Solid Rock Foundation, which provides space for underprivileged teens to learn music, dance, etc.  We donate around $100,000 annually and volunteer in the center.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being nominated by my peers as the president of the Berkshire Hathaway Automotive Dealer Academy in November 2015 was an achievement I am very proud of. The academy is preparation for partnership in our company. Nomination comes from existing partners only, and our class included 15 very prominent auto industry professionals. I was honored to represent them as class president.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am pleased, but not satisfied with my career to this point. I started in the auto industry when I was 18 and have grown to operating a $2 billion dealership before the age of 30. Completing my EMBA at ASU next month is the achievement that I will be most proud of.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Keim was my favorite professor, and not just because he nominated me! I have always been fascinated with politics and its relation to both domestic and international business. Prof. Keim’s teaching style had a way of engaging not just me, but each person in the class. He provoked thinking that many of us were not used to. His method allowed for self-discovery of many of the principles that he was trying to articulate. His class had the most value mostly for these reasons.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program?When I chose the program, I was living and working in the area, so proximity played the biggest factor. The reason I chose W. P. Carey over Eller (referring to the EMBA at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management) was simply because of its ranking. The W. P. Carey School is the highest ranked MBA in Arizona. I was relocated to LA after I started the program, so I am now commuting to school from LA.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Relationships with the students in my cohort. This is the reason why I would not have chosen an online version. It is not easy for any of us to be away from work on class weekends. In my opinion, it is the only way to maximize the experience. I have built friendships that will last for many years and learned much more from the cohort than we could have learned from a lecturing online professor.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Memorial Day weekend 2016. In the auto industry, Memorial Day weekend is the largest sales weekend of the year. At the same time, my baby was being born and I had a negotiations class as well. Planning for the sales event that weekend takes around 15-20 hrs. My wife had our baby on the Friday leading into the weekend and it was a class weekend as well. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of sleep and had to balance all three aspects.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? That you can’t do it while managing a business and have time for family. If you are good at time management, there will still be plenty of time for vacations or other family activities and commitment to your business. It took me a few months to figure out how critical time management was, but after I did, the time problem really wasn’t an issue. (I work 55-60 hours a week as well.)

What was your biggest regret in business school? I don’t regret anything. I do wish that I spent a little more time early on applying the coursework to my business. After all, that is why we are all back in school … to improve our careers and businesses!! I wish that I would have realized earlier that the coursework is just a means to assist in this process and it should always be contextualized to your business.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Chuck Delph is an inspiration to me. On top of running sales for North and South America in a Fortune 300 company, his calm demeanor, impressive presentation skills, and general contribution to class are all commendable and admirable. I am a better manager now after having spent time observing Chuck.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…my company became publicly owned. That was the catalyst that got me thinking about a MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…not realizing all of my potential. I truly believe that what I have learned thus far will fuel my growth in the future.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? Has to be my parent company Berkshire Hathaway. Not only is Mr. Buffet an inspiration in his stock market brilliance, but the way he manages people and runs his company. He believes in decentralization and allowing his managers to execute their game plans without interference. He admits that his success is largely due to this mentality and it is a pleasure to work for him.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I would somehow “up” the interaction between in class sessions. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes it is easy to lose momentum or get disconnected between class sessions. It would be nice to have a live video conference with the professors and class in between sessions just to stay fresh with the content.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? CEO of an automotive dealer group or auto manufacturer

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife. She has taught me many important values that have translated nicely to my business career. She is a selfless individual who aspires more for charitable giving than for her own personal wealth. She has inspired me to have a better purpose in my life. Without her, none of my present success would be possible.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Brandon was a passionate leader who tried to keep the classroom environment light and fun while contributing to the benefit of the learning experience.

Favorite book: The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli. I know many people do not necessarily look favorably upon Machiavelli, but I prefer to look at his thought processes not necessarily his thoughts. Machiavelli emphasized the need for realism vs idealism. In a business context, I cannot think of anything more important.

Favorite movie or television show: Any Clint Eastwood movie

Favorite vacation spot: Costa Rica. The best beaches I have found!

Hobbies?

What made Brandon such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

Brandon is the youngest student we have admitted to our EMBA in many years and yet he is a class leader in so many respects. He is on a very fast track with Berkshire Hathaway Automotive and is on a first name basis with the CEO. He began his career with BH in high school and continued after graduation without going to college. He rose to the position of general sales manager at age 23 – the youngest in the company’s history.

Brandon regularly asks very insightful questions in class. He explores the boundaries of material we are discussing and sees the subtleties of tools and frameworks. He facilitates the learning experience for students and faculty. In more than thirty years of teaching EMBAs I can say he is exceptional for someone so young.”

Gerry Keim
EMBA Faculty Director and Professor of Management
W. P. Carey School of Business