My Bentley Story by Armen Chakmakjian
Alumnus/a, Arlington, Massachusetts
I had a relatively successful career as an engineer and manager and was at a point in my career where I had several options. I had flirted with going back to school but it seemed like something I’d do when the time was right. Almost completely orthogonal to this, in 2006, I got an idea to write a science fiction novel. I’d sit there at night in the dark with my laptop conjuring details of the story and typing away in my living room. One evening, my wife walked up to me and asked, “What are you doing?” I replied, “I’m writing another chapter of my book.” The discussion was colorful, but ended with her saying, “Why don’t you go back to school? You’ve always been scholarly and it might be good for your career.” My response was, “Okay, you are right.”
I signed up for the GMAT, took it and then applied to Bentley. I raced to finish the book, published it and then in 2008 at 44 years old went back to school, at night, to get my MBA. I remember clearly the first day of classes, walking up the stairs in trepidation toward the falcon statue and the library, at which I took a right turn and walked across the quad into Smith Technology center for my first class, which was a pre-requisite PPF Statistics class.
That first class was a great experience and I then had to tackle the first Semester of the PF Series of classes. Five hours on Monday night, three classes in the time of two: Accounting, Finance and Organizational Behavior. I knew the lingo from work, but now I got the fire hose of information as background. The next semester was the other half of the PF series, Marketing, Operations and then Integrated Perspectives. During Integrated Perspectives, a case study driven class, a bunch of us mid-career folk formed a study group we called “The Dead Poets’ Society.” We continued meeting to study through the Foundation classes over the next couple of semesters. It was a lot of fun exchanging ideas and different points of view with people from different disciplines and jobs.
When I got serious about my concentration, I chose a dual concentration in Marketing and HFID. In my mental calculus, these were the areas that would complement my experience and previous education. Some engineers might say that with these selections I was completely going over to the “Dark Side”, but I didn’t view it that way.
I graduated in 2013 and I can honestly say that I have been able to apply the knowledge I gained at Bentley every day in role as an engineering leader as well as finding ways to apply it in the non-profit work that I do. I’ve made friendships and professional acquaintances that persist even after we no longer run into each other in the line at Einstein’s. While I’ll always be an engineer at heart, my Bentley education changed the way I approach opportunities and challenges and made me a more versatile contributor and leader.