The Career Symphony
PROVO, Utah – May 18, 2020 – In a four-movement symphony, individual movements typically vary in tempo and individual notes, but the movements come together to form a single symphony. Similar to how a symphony comes together, John Gardner’s four degrees have each led him to his current position as an associate professor in BYU Marriott's global supply chain management (GSCM) program in one way or another. Gardner’s combined educational and work experiences prepared him to conduct academic research and teach students skills that will prepare them to succeed in their professional and personal lives.
Gardner earned his first degree—a bachelor of music in violin performance and pedagogy—in 1999. Though Gardner had planned to attend medical school after completing that degree, he eventually discovered that a different path was preferable. Instead, he chose to pursue an MBA, a decision encouraged by his time touring with BYU’s Chamber Orchestra in the Middle East.
“While traveling, our orchestra met with government officials, and I believe those government officials desired much for their country and the well-being of their people,” says Gardner. “Desires of wanting to make a difference in the world and to make the world better for those in difficult situations stuck with me and were motivations for some of my reasons for going into business.”
While Gardner was pursuing his MBA from BYU Marriott, he simultaneously studied to earn a master of arts in international and area studies from BYU. Gardner ultimately united these two disciplines in his master’s thesis as part of the international and area studies graduate program. “I ended up studying business-development services in the Philippines,” says Gardner. “With the help of the staff from the Academy for Creating Enterprise (ACE) in Cebu, Philippines, we surveyed graduates of their business development training program to learn what services were most helpful for them.”
Gardner’s survey expanded upon a survey that Beth Haynes, a former professor of economics at BYU–Hawaii, had created for ACE graduates. While Gardner was completing his master’s thesis, one of his then-BYU Marriott professors Kristie Seawright mentored him and encouraged him to consider pursuing a PhD.
Though Gardner and his wife, Krista, intermittently considered pursuing a PhD after he had completed his MBA and MA, the timing didn’t feel right until after Gardner had worked at Honeywell, a company with products that cater to multiple industries. “My time at Honeywell was unique. I worked five different jobs in the five years we were there,” says Gardner. “I supported most functions of the business in various ways, and I felt like I could share that great work experience with students.” Garnder and his family eventually moved to Ohio so he could pursue a PhD in Management Science from The Ohio State University. In 2012, Gardner earned a doctorate of philosophy in business administration and became a professor in BYU Marriott’s GSCM program.
As a professor, Gardner encourages his students to grow both academically and individually. He has students in his classes do two major projects—a collaborative team project and an individual project. During the collaborative project, teams work to analyze a specific organization. “One of the most rewarding things for me to see is the students’ development, growth, and progress, and to watch them be able to use all of the skills that they’ve worked hard to develop,” he says.
The individual project focuses on personal development. “The first project shows more of what students are able to do and how they are able to serve,” says Gardner. “The individual project is more about who they become by applying principles and tools personally. Seeing and reading what they have done in their own personal lives to make improvements, to change, and to become even better than they were is inspiring.”
In addition to the chance to teach, being a professor allows Gardner to have an impact through his research. Gardner’s career may not have led him to medical school, but his research allows him to have an impact on the healthcare field that he once planned on joining. Gardner studied the effects of culture and information technology on healthcare quality for his dissertation, and since becoming a professor, Gardner has continued his research in the healthcare field. “I didn’t end up being a medical doctor, as was my original plan, but I ended up being a different kind of doctor who tries to find better ways of handling some of the operations, healthcare quality, and patients’ well-being by improving their experience and satisfaction,” says Gardner.
Aside from conducting research and teaching, Gardner sometimes revisits his earlier orchestra days, though he plays in a different orchestra now. “My family and I have our own little orchestra,” says Gardner. “We've got three violins, a viola, a cello, a flute, and my wife on the piano.” Much like Gardner’s family members coming together to play music beautifully, Gardner’s career harmoniously combines his different educational and career opportunities.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalia Green