After nearly 20 years in the military, Casey Galligan 21EMBA said the decision to go back to school was a simple one.
After joining the U.S. Army as an infantry officer upon completion of the ROTC program at Florida State University, Galligan found a rapidly changing environment after his graduation in 2001 due to 9/11. His training first began at Fort Benning, Georgia, with the Infantry Officer Course, Ranger School, and a few other schools before his first duty station in Korea.
“I knew I would go to Afghanistan or Iraq soon, and if I were to go to combat, I wanted to be with the best soldiers I could be,” Galligan said. “That led to applying for and eventually joining Army Special Forces, also known as Green Berets, after a year or so of training. From there, my military career has been one of tough lessons learned, adventure, leadership, humility, and it all went by in a flash.”
This past August marked 19 years of military service for Galligan, and with plans to retire in 2021 with 20 years of service, he knew going back to school to earn an Executive MBA degree was the right choice to start a new career.
“I saw a lot of soldiers retire and not land where they had hoped,” he said. “The right decision is usually the hard one, and instead of coasting to retirement, the MBA was an opportunity to learn so much and ease the transition [to civilian life]. As part of my coursework, I am exposed to business language that was not at all a part of my vernacular, and I hope this knowledge will cut the learning curve tremendously when I start a new career.”
Galligan received a Fort Benning Fellowship which provides a scholarship for the full cost of attendance to Goizueta’s EMBA program, less any GI Bill contribution. But among the many reasons to attend Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, one of the most appealing to Galligan was Lieutenant General (retired) Ken Keen, associate dean for leadership, and his relationship with Fort Benning, the place where Galligan’s military career started.
“[Goizueta’s EMBA provides] an incredible opportunity that aligned with many of my goals, from timelines to finances,” Galligan said. “Also, I met and knew several soldiers that completed the EMBA program, and I was very impressed with them personally, their experiences, and how it helped them transition. Plus, I cannot wait for the next Leader Reaction Course events at Fort Benning, so that I can help coach the next cohort of EMBA students.”
Galligan enjoys being a student and is fulfilling the lesson he was taught in the military: pursue lifelong learning. He has taken this philosophy to heart and shares his experience with other veterans interested in going back to school. In fact, he recently bumped into another Special Forces officer at the grocery store and convinced him to pursue an EMBA at Goizueta.
For Galligan, every class at Goizueta brought new insight to his internal portfolio. “The financial classes come together and help you understand the big picture,” he said. “Marketing was fantastic, but learning how much science is involved was shocking and hard. Negotiating skills will help in sales. It is the flow of the EMBA program that makes this so valuable.”
Attending Goizueta is about “the opportunity to learn and push yourself,” Galligan said. “It’s the ability to make lifelong friends, learn from them and their experiences. On top of this, you receive thought-provoking classes, lectures and access to world-class faculty, who are amazing and always willing to help you in so many ways. Then there is the prospect of the Emory network, a career management team ready to help in every aspect of your job hunt, and so many more people wanting to help you succeed.”