HARRISBURG, Pa. — Walt Tyson graduated from St. Joseph's University in 1976. And he liked it so much, he's getting ready to do it again.
Tyson, the marketing manager for conventional mid-market independents in Supervalu's Eastern Region, is currently enrolled in the Executive Master's in Food Marketing program at the school, working toward an MBA.
“I've been in the business for 30-plus years, and I thought now was the time,” he told SN. “I put my kids through school, so now it was my turn to go back to college.”
One of the benefits of going back to school after 30 years has been the ability to get caught up on some of the latest technologies that are being used in the classroom, he explained.
“I really wanted to sharpen my skills,” Tyson said. “A lot has changed since 1976. As an undergrad, we didn't have computers. Now there are things like PowerPoint — the very first classes were eye-opening, because we had to work together as a team and put a PowerPoint presentation together right on the spot.
“But that's what I wanted to do — I wanted to update my set of business skills, and I really feel I am learning from it.”
Tyson began the classes in 2003, and attends about five times a year. The classes are structured as self-contained, two-day intensive study lessons that students can take according to their own schedules.
Tyson said he has learned a lot about the business that he is able to apply in his role assisting independent customers of Minneapolis-based Supervalu.
“I work with independents, helping them compete against the big chains,” he explained. “That was my motivation for doing this, was to develop my skill sets. Everything I do with all of my projects and coursework, I try to do with them in mind.”
He said he has benefited both from the in-depth financial coursework, which is an area of the business he does not normally work with day in and day out, and from the interaction with the other industry professionals in the classes.
“I always read the trade news, but this lets you see the news behind the headlines,” he said. “It really lets you see some of the interdisciplinary relationships, and exposes you to other people in the business that you normally wouldn't come into contact with every day.
“The classroom is very dynamic,” he added. “Everyone there is in the business, so we have great discussions in class.”
Tyson has held a variety of positions in the industry throughout his career, including working for Acme — now also owned by Supervalu — and for Kroger in Houston, and for a broker. He has been with Supervalu for the past 14 years. He worked with Supervalu's IGA operators before taking his current position nine years ago.
TITLE: Marketing Manager for Conventional Mid-Market Independents, Supervalu Eastern Region
EDUCATION: Executive Master's in Food Marketing, St. Joseph's University