NDSU graduate finds professional fulfillment after earning master’s degree

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As a graduate student at North Dakota State University, Heather Goulet – wife and mother of three young daughters – sometimes took half days off from her full-time job to study in her office. She spent most of her weekends with required reading. She missed birthday parties, family outings and vacations.

It was hard. But Goulet knew the sacrifices would be brief and the education would last a lifetime. The payoff would be worth it.

“I had a good job, but I felt like I might be in the same professional role for a long time if I didn’t make a change,” said Goulet, now a process development lead for all of North America at Bobcat in Gwinner, North Dakota. “I wasn’t getting enough from work at my previous job and I wanted more. I wanted to keep growing and keep learning. And I wasn’t doing that at a fast enough pace.”

NDSU has increased enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students to meet the workforce needs of the region. North Dakota employers are looking for intelligent, well-rounded, hard-working employees, and NDSU is educating students like Goulet who are eager to stay in the state.

Goulet had other options. She briefly looked at graduate school out-of-state, but her ties to North Dakota and NDSU made it an easy decision to stay.

At NDSU, Goulet earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1999 and a doctorate in coatings and polymeric materials in 2004. She worked in research and development at a small North Dakota company for several years before realizing her path to a more rewarding career required more education. She’s a scientist, but she wanted to be a bigger asset to an employer on the business side.

Goulet enrolled in NDSU’s Master of Business Administration program to supplement her scientific knowledge with strategy, problem-solving and marketing skills.

“The NDSU MBA program gave me a different perspective,” said Goulet, who worked at Bobcat full time while earning her MBA. “It helped me understand Bobcat as a company. I felt like when I was at work I could see firsthand what the classes were teaching me.”

Days were long and time precious during Goulet’s time in the program. She had to fit studying into every sliver of open time. So she brought her books everywhere and missed a few family outings.

Each day, she travelled 65 miles from her home in Wolverton, Minnesota, to her job in Gwinner. Then it was 85 miles to classes in Fargo. She often got home around 10 p.m.

Goulet’s husband, Charles, stood behind her every step of the way. He picked up the kids from school, took them to their activities and helped make sure everything in the Goulet household ran smoothly. Bobcat also stepped up to cover a majority of Goulet’s tuition.

She was exhausted by the long days, but invigorated by the lively discussions in class. She felt guilty for missing time at home, but was energized by her family’s support. She faced it all with self-confidence and humor.

Goulet earned her MBA in 2015. She currently works on a team that focuses on day-to-day operations and strategic planning involving the paint used in Bobcat’s products. When customers commented that the paint on Bobcat’s skid-steer loader faded too quickly, Goulet was part of the group that helped come up with a new process to fix the issue.

Goulet said her training in the MBA program helped her better strategize and plan as a member of a team.

Thanks to a background in coatings and business, she’s helping make big decisions that positively affect Bobcat’s bottom line. She’s got what she always wanted at work – professional fulfillment.

“I can bring something different to the table at work,” Goulet said. “The MBA program at NDSU was such a valuable experience. I love where I’m at and I love what I do.”


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