Jim Thompson was a seasoned baseball professional scouting for the New York Mets when he enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program with a Finance Specialization at La Salle University.
“I got to a point where the goal was to transition into the front office,” he said. “The baseball world has become highly analytical, so I needed to add the skill set and close the knowledge gap.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to compete with statisticians, programmers or computer scientists, so I was looking for something that would give me those skills and help me think more broadly, which is why I chose the MBA route.”
But before Thompson could round third base and head for home, he changed careers. He is now a senior business analyst and investment strategist at PECO in Philadelphia. He graduated from La Salle’s online MBA program in May 2021.
“I went in as a business systems and analytics major,” he said. “After the survey courses, I liked the finance concentration. It was more interesting to me and more applicable to my goals. I like what I do now.”
The asynchronous online format was key for Thompson to return to college while in a demanding full-time job. He and his wife, Jackie, have their hands full with two young children.
“It was great,” he said. “I was on the road 75 nights a year or more when I started. The online format was the only option for me. The appeal of La Salle was that it wasn’t like those mandatory meetings.
“My wife wrapped up her MBA last year at another school. She had to be online at certain times for class. La Salle’s program was the only one I found that offered that kind of flexibility. I dialed into class from the car on Zoom.”
Thompson grew up in the Philadelphia area. He played baseball at Haverford College while earning a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in economics.
Two years after he graduated in 2004, Thompson landed an internship in baseball operations with the Mets. He spent most of his baseball career as a scout, but he was also a field manager for the New Jersey Pilots collegiate summer league team for one season.
“I miss baseball a little bit,” he said. “I miss the relationships and going to games. There aren’t a whole lot of things better than getting paid to go to baseball games.
“The most fun was when the Mets went to the World Series in 2015. I also have two guys I scouted in the big leagues now, so seeing their success is fun. Now, I am coaching little league.”
Because Thompson was already enrolled in the online MBA program, he didn’t miss a beat in school while transitioning to a new career field.
“The MBA has already helped open doors for me,” he said. “When the Mets let me go, I was ready for something new. They expedited my time frame.
“The degree added legitimacy and framed the narrative. When I tell this story about why I want to get out of baseball and do something different, there was something tangible I could point to.”
Portfolio Management has been Thompson’s favorite course in the online MBA in Finance curriculum.
“That’s not something I ever had the time, interest or knowledge to do,” he said. “Now, I can manage my own finances. The theory and the thinking apply to so many different things — not just your 401(k) or how you’re investing. I have applied everything that I have learned in the program.”
From the time that Thompson enrolled at La Salle University in September 2018, he has had plenty of encouragement.
“My family and friends are very excited for me and supportive,” he said. “My wife pushed me to do the MBA. She saw the benefits that she was getting out of the degree. I am so glad that I did. It opened my eyes to so many other things.”
Thompson said the biggest adjustment to being a student in a fully online program is zeroing in on time management and self-discipline.
“You have to commit,” he said. “There’s no one looking over your shoulder. It’s on you to manage your time, get the work done and motivate yourself.
“This is a program where they trust you as a student and you as an individual to get your work done. There is support if you need it, but you have to prepare to do the work.”
Although Thompson wrapped up the online MBA in Finance program in a much different career space than when he started, he knows that he made a smart decision to attend La Salle.
“It was life changing,” he said. “For the return I am going to get on my investment, it’s amazing.”
Learn more about La Salle University’s online MBA in Finance program.