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Darla Moore School of Business

  • Image of Jack Johnson at the Moore School

Chemist diversifies his professional skills with completion of MBA

Moore School alumnus Jack Johnson III (’20 MBA) enrolled in the Professional MBA program so that he could better understand the business side of his role as a technical specialist at BASF, a large and diverse chemical company that serves virtually all end markets globally.

Johnson comes from a technical background as he received his undergraduate degree in Polymer and Color Chemistry from North Carolina State University and then later his Ph.D. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

“In both undergraduate and graduate school, I was very research oriented with a focus on building systems that interacted well with each other,” Johnson said. “From 3D data writing on polymer composites to bio-friendly and bio-inspired ultra-low-density composites, I worked on some very interesting and technically complex projects.”

In his current role at BASF as a technical specialist, Johnson is a technical subject matter expert for exterior paint and coatings.

“This entails working directly with marketing and sales to support customers on current and future technical needs,” he said. “I also manage various projects large and small from product development to facility upgrades to ensure that we are developing and testing to customers’ needs and leading the market in these areas.”

Once he joined this business unit at BASF, Johnson knew that he wanted to further develop his business acumen so that he could understand the business logistics of the chemicals.

“I feel very comfortable on the technical side of research and development from my experience in my Ph.D. work and technical roles,” he said. “I joined a business unit in the marketing and sales side and wanted to develop an understanding of not just how we make chemicals but how we create the most value from them.”

When Johnson started looking for MBA programs, the Moore School stood out to him as the right fit for him and his career.

“The Moore School presented a great reputation and a great value, had a local classroom and offered a competitive set of core and elective classes that allowed me to discover the path that I was interested in and not be directed down a predetermined path,” he said.

The fact that Johnson could also continue his career and further his education at the same time was also a huge advantage.

“I have a great job and am in a career I plan to continue to grow in, so a full-time program wasn’t right for me,” he said. “I needed a program flexible with my schedule and location. It was important for me to be in a classroom with others, as peer-to-peer learning is my preferred style. Having a location in Charlotte, with the option for some in-person weekend classes in Columbia, and a program with an excellent reputation and incredible value made the Darla Moore School of Business the perfect fit for me.”

During his time at the Moore School, Johnson said he gained many meaningful skills such as the ability to think strategically about a business and their place in the world and understand why businesses make the decisions they make.

“The pandemic came at a time when I was taking Global Supply Chain Strategy, and at the time, I became alarmingly aware of how important strategic diversification is to weather any storm,” he said. “Often times large, diverse companies don’t seem as exciting as small start-ups, but looking into the giant spider-web of carefully crafted market diversification can be as exciting to me. Strategy is incredibly important and often understated in its complexity and may be the most exciting aspect of business”

Johnson said that he looks forward to applying all of the skills that he has learned from the Moore School in his technical specialist position. Now Johnson feels as though he has the necessary technical and business skills to best perform his role.

“The program has really changed my world view when it comes to my job and my company’s role in the world,” he said. “I have always understood how the chemistry works but now am armed with an understanding of how the business works, why the business is organized in the way it is and what to consider from a business perspective for future growth. I know this experience will open up a world of exciting opportunities in the future.”

-Claire McGrath

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.