UVU Magazine Logo

Turning the Slopes Green

UVU and Silicon Slopes team up to offer new MBA in technology management

By Suzanne Broadbent | Photography by August Miller

There are many reasons to pursue a degree at Utah Valley University: the competi­tive tuition, smaller class sizes to enable more engagement, hybrid learning options, and the high caliber of professors, just to name a few. And now there is another reason.

On Feb. 1, 2019, at the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit held in Salt Lake City, UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez announced that UVU’s Master of Business Administration program has partnered with Silicon Slopes to create a special MBA degree with an emphasis in technology management, taught at the Silicon Slopes offices in Lehi.

“UVU’s MBA at Silicon Slopes continues UVU’s commitment to innovation and im­ pactful partnerships,” President Tuminez said at the Tech Summit. “It is meant to be closely tied to the economic and industry needs of Utah, and Silicon Slopes in particular.”

The announcement from Tuminez cre­ated a buzz among the conference’s 24,000 attendees, as potential MBA candidates gath­ered around UVU’s booth on the conference floor for more information.

Similar to Northern California’s Silicon Valley, Utah’s Wasatch Front has become a hub for technology and software companies, earning the name Silicon Slopes. The name also references a nonprofit organization which brings together and helps network these businesses into a community to learn, connect, and serve. Each year, Silicon Slopes hosts more than 200 events targeted at the tech industry, and it is not uncommon to see some of Utah’s most successful and influen­tial leaders present.

It seems the timing is perfect for a collab­orative relationship between the two entities, as both hope to serve the community.

“We are tired of hearing tech companies say that they are going to change the world. Instead, we want to serve the world,” Clint Betts, executive director of Silicon Slopes and a UVU alumnus, said during his remarks at the summit.

UVU President Astrid S. Tuminez

Based on reporting from U.S. News and World Report in May 2018, the number of people working in the Provo area tech industry increased nearly 65 percent from 2010 to 2017, far surpassing the national average of approxi­mately 16 percent. Technology jobs account for 10 percent of the area’s total employment.

As Utah’s technology industry continues to be one of the fastest­-growing in the country, UVU’s MBA students will now have an extra edge in the marketplace as they compete to secure jobs in this growing industry.

Promoters of UVU’s MBA in technology management indicate the new venture will immerse students in the Silicon Slopes landscape, “providing an engaging experi­ence with continuous real­-world application. Students will strengthen their business pro­ficiency through case studies, simulations, projects, and interactions with organizations and business leaders on a regional, national, and international level.”

“UVU and Silicon Slopes both have these amazing stories of innovation and growth that have caused us to be national leaders in our respective fields,” says Norm Wright, dean of UVU’s Woodbury School of Business. “We have, for years, worked hand in hand to create jobs and the skilled workforce to fill those jobs that make Utah the envy of other states.”

When the opportunity presented itself to align the MBA program with Silicon Slopes, UVU was ready.

UVU at Silicon Slopes

“We had been brainstorming on how to orient the MBA program to respond to local market needs. There is an incredible demand for more qualified managers in this commu­nity,” says Jim Mortensen, MBA program director. “When we were approached by Silicon Slopes to collaborate on an MBA program, we knew we needed to act quickly to meet the needs of not only our students, but of the business community as well.”

Janae Holland, MBA program manager, says, “One of our goals is to support local companies with the talent they need.”

Another goal of the department is to be the most relevant MBA in the region. As ad­ditional industry relationships with UVU are fostered, even more goals will be met.

Joshua Fowlke, creative director for Silicon Slopes and a UVU alumus, says the affordability of tuition, smaller class sizes, and professors who worked in the technology field are what attracted him, and many others, to UVU.

“I still keep in contact with a lot of people from UVU,” Fowlke says. “And I now work with a lot of my past professors in the industry.”

UVU has a track record of placing graduates in the job market, with 93% of Woodbury’s MBA students employed within six months of their graduation, Holland says. MBA students also know they can look to UVU to provide continuing education in their respective fields in the years to come.

“The view of the MBA program moving forward is much more than someone getting a degree and moving on,” Jacob Sybrowsky, associate dean of the Woodbury School of Business, says. “UVU will provide modules for certifications for professional develop­ment throughout a person’s career. We call it lifelong learning.”

UVU is positioned to partner with addi­ tional industries to provide top candidates, Sybrowsky says. Students can look forward to healthcare administration cohorts, aviation co­ horts, and more as industry demands increase.

The first cohort in the Silicon Slopes MBA will begin in the fall of 2019.