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Darla Moore School of Business

Three MBA alumni among most impactful in the state under 40

May 18, 2020

Three Moore School MBA alumni were named some of the most impactful individuals in the state of South Carolina. For the past 17 years, The State and have recognized 20 of South Carolina’s best adults under age 40. Through their professional careers or their personal volunteer or civic work, these honorees have promoted a positive change within their communities.

Three of the 2020’s 20 under 40 are alumni of the Moore School’s Professional MBA program: Jared Evans (’17 MBA, ’12 USC sport and entertainment management), J. Benjamin Jackson III (’20 MBA) and Benjamin Johnson (’15 MBA, ’02 finance and marketing).

A Marine Corps veteran and graduate of the Moore School, Evans now serves as USC’s director of military engagement and veteran initiatives. At USC, Evans is responsible for leading a university-wide strategy to support and attract military-affiliated students, cultivate and expand employer relations for enhanced job placement opportunities, fundraise for veteran initiatives and collaborate with Department of Defense agencies for research initiatives. An added personal responsibility to his role, Evans said, is being a mentor and giving back to his community.

“Being a part of larger causes and initiatives that have a community-wide impact are vital for personal and professional growth,” Evans said. “Furthermore, it provides tremendous opportunity to grow your network and cultivate relationships with individuals in different industries that you would likely not engage with from a professional perspective.”

Attributing his nomination for The State’s 20 Under 40 list to this philanthropic-focused mindset, Evans said it is a “tremendous honor” to be recognized by his peers and colleagues.

“I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by some extremely supportive mentors and leaders throughout the community who have provided guidance and direction throughout my professional career,” he said.

Evans has been a member of the USC community since 2009, as he earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management in 2012.

“I wouldn’t be in my current career if it weren’t for my time as a student at USC,” Evans said. “It gave me the time and opportunity to build relationships with leaders across campus who I now get to work with on several of our ongoing initiatives.”

After working in athletics administration, Evans worked toward his MBA at the Moore School. He said that the biggest lesson he learned while completing the program was “ROI [return on investment], ROI, ROI.”

“[The Moore School MBA program] was instrumental in providing me with the education, insight and experience necessary for my switch from working in the [USC] athletics department to overseeing a new enhanced commitment from the university in ‘serving those who serve’,” Evans said. 

Deciding to grow his passion for military advocacy into a university-wide initiative, Evans brought his ideas to USC’s leadership.

“When I first pitched this concept and initiative to leadership, I was told, ‘we love the idea, but you earned an MBA from here, so build a business plan and come back to us.’ Well, that’s exactly what I did, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the education I received from the Moore School.”

Read more about Evans and USC’s military engagement and veteran services program.

While Evans uses his MBA to strategically advocate for veterans, Jackson decided to pursue his MBA as a means to start thinking about issues from a different perspective. 

Jackson is an orthopedic surgeon at Prisma Health and USC. He is also an associate professor of orthopedics and the director of orthopedic research at USC.

“I treat patients with a wide variety of conditions and disorders throughout the Midlands and surrounding areas,” Jackson said. “In addition to my direct medical care, I have had a long-standing passion for research. With patient care you can help one patient at a time, but through research you can positively affect hundreds or thousands of patients across the country. I find it personally satisfying to be able to contribute to the body of knowledge in orthopedics.”

Recently, Jackson received a grant from the Department of Defense to study the effect of a new medical treatment on stress fractures at Fort Jackson, the U.S. army base located in Columbia, South Carolina. Jackson worked with Army veterans to conduct this study and said he enjoyed “serving those who serve our nation.”

He also said that he hoped this collaboration would “bolster” the growing relationship between USC and Fort Jackson.

Believing that it was this work done in tandem with Fort Jackson that led to his nomination for The State’s 20 Under 40 list, Jackson said it was a “very unexpected honor.”

“I was actually in an all-day Friday [MBA] negotiations class when I received the call [from The State],” he said. “I couldn’t have been more surprised!” 

Acknowledging that he was constantly approaching problems through a medical lens, Jackson decided to begin the Moore School’s MBA program while continuing to teach and practice orthopedic medicine.

“The professors at the Moore School taught me how different disciplines approach a problem,” Jackson said. “They have such wide range of ‘real-world’ experience combined with high level expertise that they can convey, in a straightforward way to newbies like me, that it makes learning enjoyable. [Because of the Professional MBA program], I believe that I can better ‘speak the language’ of my co-workers from marketing to IT to accounting and everything in between because of what I learned at the Moore School.”

Jackson also said that, because of his enhanced education and new business repertoire from the Moore School, he has been given more opportunities to serve on department and even hospital-wide leadership committees.

“My leaders recognized the gains I was making during my business education,” Jackson said. For example, we were having meetings about high level strategy during the time I was learning about strategy in my strategic management class. This allowed me to apply what I was learning immediately in a practical way and even ask questions in class about our process from the ‘real world.’”

Jackson added that having the unique opportunity to be a member of the USC community as both a faculty member and a student has allowed him to experience the “amazing” amounts of talent at the university.

“The people are really what make this place special,” Jackson said. “They are skilled, kind and they care.”

After obtaining his MBA, Johnson combined his MBA with his undergraduate degree in finance as the director of research for the South Carolina Department of Commerce.

Before beginning his work with the commerce department in 2016, Johnson was a senior research analyst for the CBRE commercial real estate services firm, which is where he worked when he was a student in the PMBA program. He previously was the research and client services director for Grubb & Ellis|Wilson Kibler, also a commercial real estate firm. Johnson did not respond to requests for comments about the 20 under 40 designation.

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