OSU MBA alumnus Matthew O’Brien
returns to Stillwater to share with students

by Taylor Mullan 
(February 7, 2017 at 2:57 pm)

MBA students learned ways to manage a career with advice from Oklahoma State University MBA alumnus Matthew O’Brien on Feb. 3.

In 1982, O’Brien received his MBA and began working at Lockheed Martin Corporation. O’Brien is vice president emeritus and former chief financial officer for Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Corporation subsidiary. Also, he is owner and president of M.J. O’Brien and Associates LLC, a business consulting firm, and he serves as chair for the OSU MBA Advisory Board.

O’Brien gave an overview of managing a career through leadership, while keeping in mind that someone is always watching. Managing a career takes a lot preparation, hard work, emotional intelligence, timing, luck and work ethic, he says.

“Present yourself in a way that somebody will remember you,” O’Brien said.

Matthew O'Brien

Matthew O’Brien

Next, O’Brien also explained the importance of goal setting and believes the fewer the goals, the better. These are more obtainable, and set goals that are specific, measure, attainable, relevant and timely. While on the road to reaching goals, question change but don’t fight it. Change can be good, if you understand it.

“See change as an opportunity and lead through it,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien has experienced change in what he calls his “one lucky career,” where he has worked many jobs in one company in different locations for 30 years. In his leadership story/model, O’Brien always strives for the best and understood the need for a foundation or base qualification in addition to personal core values and emotional intelligence. O’Brien believes in practicing unconditional positive respect, which often results in people reacting favorable in return. Successfully practicing unconditional positive respect, increases overall emotional intelligence.

“Nothing you do in work will be a waste of your career,” O’Brien said.

Then, he encouraged students to be disciplined when necessary, but at the same time don’t take yourself too seriously. Preparation is an important part for managing a career, but some parts of success can come from luck and risk.

MBA students shared their thoughts about O’Brien’s advice.

“Having the chance to spend time with Mr. O’Brien was a great opportunity for the students in our program,” Dylan Dean, MBA student, said. “He has an extreme passion for this university as well as for aiding students in shaping their future careers.”

“It was a pleasure to host Mr. O’Brien at OSU,” Beau Blanchard, MBA student, said. “Mr. O’Brien has had a long and successful career and it was interesting to peek into what he believes to be of utmost importance. He emphasized how important family is and that was incredible to hear.” 

As a final thought, O’Brien stresses the importance of following up with people. Always say thank you and send a thank you note. Those who write thank you notes by hand are memorable, so be that person.