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Alumni Profile: Troy Swanson

Troy Swanson

For more than a decade, Troy Swanson has worked for Gap Inc. and runs a top-volume store with the company in Chicago. As retail manager, he wanted to advance his career and decided to seek a master of management degree at North Park University. “I chose North Park for two reasons,” he says. “Its reputation in the Chicago community and its flexibility with adult graduate students who have full-time jobs.”

Troy, who graduated in 2013, found the program taught him ways to lead differently, strategize various aspects of his job with company initiatives, and continue to build the business with changes in the retail environment. “For example, competition is big between retailers in this current market, and the shift from customers shopping in mall stores to online has changed with the convenience of the Internet,” he says. “Businesses can focus on one and just let the other fail, but we’re working to make both channels strong and competitive for customers.”

He was able to complete the program despite a demanding work schedule and also earned three certificates from North Park in human resource management, conflict management, and leadership. Every faculty member brought a different perspective to the courses. “I learned a lot from every instructor,” he says. “Each one had a complete background in the field and many even owned their own companies.”

The program has raised his profile with colleagues and helped him in his career. Troy has been able to test new positions with the company, such as a market training manager, and is exploring options to advance to the corporate office in San Francisco. “The new degree has opened the doors at work with peers asking for my support to test new initiatives and get my insight,” he said.

Troy took some classes online and the rest on campus, where he met adults from around the city and country and was able to build new networks and learn from their experiences. He recommends this degree for anyone who wants to look at new ways to manage a business. “Trends are changing, and the courses I took helped me look at different perspectives of how I do my job and how I can do things differently to be more effective,” he says.