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Putting Out Fires in the Business World Student Profile: Russell Cox, FTMBA ‘17

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Russell Cox stands outside against a stone wall.

Russell Cox, FTMBA ’17, had one dream when he was growing up: to save lives as a firefighter. His vision came true, and he served as a career firefighter for five years. His dreams began to shift, however, when he realized that chasing fires might not provide for his family the way that chasing a business career would.

“I could live a great life as a firefighter, but it wouldn’t allow me to financially support those that matter most to me,” Cox says.

A self-proclaimed “jack of all trades, master of none,” Cox saw pursing an MBA through Kogod’s Full-Time MBA Program as a means of applying his varied personal and professional experience to a career in business. He hoped to cultivate his ability to “master” many skillsets.

When considering programs that would play to his strengths, Kogod stood out to Cox for a variety for reasons. He was drawn to the collegiate environment, the location in Washington, DC, and the exposure to the myriad of industries and careers in business. “There was so much I had no clue even existed before starting at Kogod,” Cox says.

His experience at Kogod so far, however, has well-exceeded his expectations. “My favorite part of the program has been the chance to study abroad,” Cox says. “I didn’t have this opportunity in undergrad, and I’ve studied abroad twice this year and will do so twice more before my program ends.”

On campus, Cox has been equally as busy. This past year, Cox and his team took 2nd place in the Kogod Regional Case Competition. Cox was also one of two students who attended the National Black MBA Association conference only three weeks after starting at Kogod. “I was fortunate enough to secure two job offers at the conference from two major corporations!” Cox says excitedly

In the classroom, Cox credits faculty and staff like Heather Elms, Wim Taylor, Quentin Johnson, and David Bartlett for giving him better insight into his career. “Kogod has allotted me exposure to industry professionals,” Cox says. He adds he has learned new approaches to problem-solving and how to employ different frameworks to conflict-resolution. Now, Cox better knows how to “put out fires” in the business world.

While Cox is no longer serving as a firefighter, he still wants to give back to his community. A fan of social entrepreneurship, Cox is excited to learn about consulting and financial services so he can understand how to invest in socially impactful ventures.

For anyone looking for a career change, or for someone who just wants to gain new skills, Cox says, “Just do it! Kogod’s FTMBA program is very reputable. We definitely hold our own!”

Whatever future adventure awaits, Cox is proud of what he’s learned at Kogod. The FTMBA has equipped him with the skills he needs to succeed, both inside and outside the classroom. “For a guy who ran into burning buildings for a living before, I’m pretty pleased with where I’ve been able to go,” Cox says.