2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Franklyn DeCoteau, UCLA (Anderson)

Franklyn DeCoteau

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Age: 44

“A compassionate military learner, ready to change the world.”

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Family Members: Mother (Doreen), Father (Franklyn – I’m a junior), and one sister (Tenee)

Fun fact about yourself: Before I joined the Navy in 2001, I was a ride operator at Six Flags California, certified to operate almost every minor and major ride in the park at that time. One of the best jobs I ever had and I would go back in a heartbeat if I could get paid at my current salary!!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

National University – B.S., Criminal Justice Administration

Thomas Jefferson School of Law – J.D., Sports Law and Policy Specialization

Where are you currently working? A dual role in the U.S. Navy. As a civilian, I’m the law office manager at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command located in San Diego. As a Navy Reservist, I’m a senior chief petty officer legalman (paralegal) and the region legalman for Naval Reserve Readiness Command Southwest, providing legal advice and support for 19 Navy Reserve Commands in the Southwest Region.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

EMBA 2022 Academic Chair

Anderson Entertainment Management Association – VP of EMBA Relations

Out at Anderson – EMBA Representative

Member of the Anderson Veterans Association

Member of the Anderson Sports Business Association

Community Work: Member of the Tom Homann LGBT Bar Association; Greater San Diego Reserve Chief Petty Officer Association and the Navy Reserve Law Program Chief Petty Officer Association

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My role as the Academic Chair in my class section. I didn’t know until later how much time and effort my role would take or what a difference it would make in the progression of my classmates’ MBA journey. COVID definitely played a huge role, as we were online during the pandemic but still trying to accomplish all our assignments, tasks and anything else we had to do. Just being there to provide support, being the liaison for the administration, and seeing the positive results that came out of handling these issues in and outside of class truly made my job that much more pleasant and enjoyable.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My role as the legal advisor to the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy and the paralegal to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. There was a need to fill both roles and I was hand-picked to fill them. Both were unique, and challenged me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. My first thought in going into these roles was not only to apply my legal knowledge to help both the MCPON and the VCNO to perform their roles effectively, but also to be a great representative as a legalman to the Navy Reserve Law Program and the Navy Reserves. I also was able to learn more about how the legislative environment and the military work hand-in-hand and to see how the sausage is made behind closed doors. If there would ever be an opportunity to go the legislative route in the future, I believe my experience at the Pentagon would be a tremendous asset.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a very hard question because all of the professors I experienced at Anderson have been extraordinary and their wealth of knowledge in their respective fields is unparalleled. But if there is one professor who truly stands out from all of them, it is Professor Elisa Long. I believe you never forget your first professors and Professor Long is one of them. She was my statistics teacher and provided us a different way to use stats by using R-Studio, a program I had never heard of. It was a new way to figure out statistics, but she also gave us advice to challenge ourselves outside of the norms applied to this class. She’s done this throughout her professional career and as a cancer survivor. She’s truly an inspiration.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I mainly chose UCLA Anderson’s Executive MBA Program because of its stellar reputation for promoting leadership and the network that Anderson provides through its alumni and other partners. The leaders they brought in during our Leadership Foundations orientation were amazing; they provided great leadership stories and we were able to talk to these CEOs and senior executives on a personal basis. The EMBA program also brought in students with vast leadership experience from many industries and countries. The diversity of our class pool, I believe, is the strongest factor in what makes Anderson a top school.

Another reason that I joined Anderson was the opportunity to do either Strategic Management Research or the Business Creation Option for our capstone final project for graduation. These options are great for entrepreneurs and others who haven’t had any experience doing any business consulting for a major company. As someone in the legal field, this is totally out of left field for me, but this capstone provides an opportunity for me to step out of my comfort zone and see how I can apply what I’ve learned during my time at Anderson.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson I learned while at Anderson was to be your authentic self. There are times when many might feel a bit of imposter syndrome and it would set them back a little bit when it came to making connections. When you get over that, it’s normally around the time we are about to graduate and head out to the next chapter in our lives. Next thing you know, the connections that you could have made are missed. This also ties in to being authentic and engaging more with your own personal development as a business executive. Fortunately, I engaged with a lot of my peers and learned a little bit more about myself through every encounter. I definitely apply this to my Navy careers as being authentic towards senior officials is very important when providing sound advice to help them in their leadership roles at their commands.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I don’t think I really had a situation where juggling was not an issue because it has always been in the forefront of my daily routine. For those who know me very well, they know I already had to juggle both military and civilian life on a daily basis and this was before joining UCLA Anderson. I just happen to have an education ball in the mix now too where there was a subset of responsibilities for Anderson. I strongly believe the Navy helped me in managing the juggling as it was very common to do so as a chief petty officer leading the enlisted and officer communities. When it does come to juggling, it’s up to us to decide which ball to control first and what follows afterwards and the benefits that come with it.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? My advice would be to pick a program that fits what you are looking for and then engage in the program 100 percent, with time, effort, and commitment.  You really don’t want to be that person who drains the energy from your peers and professors. When you do become part of that program, ensure you stay true to who you are and try to contribute as much as possible so the other classmates get to see your authentic self. Also, please keep in mind that you will not be the smartest person in the group, class section, or the overall class. Everybody learns from everyone at some point and that’s what is so great about being in an Executive MBA program: you learn something new from your classmates and you apply it to your own toolbelt.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? To me, the biggest myth is that there is no need to get an MBA. Totally false. The way the world is consistently changing – and knowing how businesses are being impacted – an MBA can really be of great assistance in handling business challenges and advances in this economy.

What was your biggest regret in business school? The only regret I have is that, because of my military obligations, I was not able to travel for my international management requirements so I had to use a virtual international exchange class to meet the requirements. But if there is a chance in the future to travel for an international business class as an alum, I’m on board.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is another very tough question but yet very easy to answer. I admire all of my classmates in my Anderson class. There are so many “powerhouses” in our class that I am amazed at their achievements in their respective industries. They were selected for a reason at Anderson and that’s on display every single day. They inspire me to give it my all and I’m grateful for them.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The main reason was the opportunity to learn from experienced executives from different industries. Part-time was never an option, as I wanted to really engage with my peers and professors for an extensive period of time and be able to learn as much as possible. A benefit of going to UCLA Anderson is to embrace the UCLA community and set foot on the campus to soak it all in.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to become either a COO or CEO for a major business firm, entertainment company or studio. Additionally, I want to have my own firm that focuses on entertainment law and would also include representing e-sports players. Finally, I want to be involved on the public boards of other organizations to help businesses and people grow in the San Diego community.

What made Frank DeCoteau such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Franklyn is a standout member of the UCLA Anderson community. He volunteered to serve as the Academic Representative for his class section within a few weeks of joining the program and was elected by his peers. This role has a huge impact, as Franklyn serves as the liaison between students, staff and professors when it comes to academic matters and he is responsible for making sure all parties feel as if their voices are being heard. Franklyn charted a new path in this role because his class started the program remotely due to the pandemic and he represented the Blended Section (hybrid schedule alternating weekends on campus and asynchronously on Zoom), which was a new schedule offering for UCLA Anderson. Franklyn took on the challenge, he communicated effectively and offered a great deal of support to his classmates. One EMBA staff member said, “Frank is an exemplary academic rep and I would love for him to provide a one-hour training each year to the new academic reps.”

Franklyn also took the initiative to develop relationships and spread his expertise and positive attitude beyond the EMBA community and in so doing, he developed meaningful connections with other UCLA Anderson students. He signed up for entertainment-specific electives that allowed him to engage with part-time MBA and EMBA students (and as a result, earned an Entertainment Specialization). Franklyn also took on leadership roles with the Anderson Entertainment Management Association and Out at Anderson club. We are very grateful that Franklyn choose Anderson and we know he will be a strong alumni representative for years to come.”

Shannon Bell
Executive Director of Admissions, UCLA Anderson EMBA and UCLA-NUS


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