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M.B.A. grad plans work in developing countries

May 22, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. — For many in the business world, a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) opens doors for future career success.

Abel Sutherlin

Abel Sutherland plans to put that idea into action — not for himself, but for people in developing countries.

After completing his M.B.A. at Indiana University Kokomo in May, Sutherland wants to earn a certificate in accounting, and then work for an accounting firm. Long term, however, he wants to live overseas, working as a consultant for entrepreneurs in post-war torn countries.

“There’s so much potential for people when they are given opportunities,” he said. “Entrepreneurism gives a lot of people a lot of opportunities, but if you don’t have experience, you don’t know where to start. I want to give people in less economically developed countries a chance, to improve the quality of life for people in their area.” 

Earning his degree from IU Kokomo makes it easier for him to reach his goal.

“If I had gone somewhere else, it would take me a lot longer to reach my goals, because I’d be paying off a lot of debt,” he said. “I enjoyed the expertise and caring of the professors, and how small the class sizes are. It’s an affordable, high-quality option.”

His journey through graduate school wasn’t easy, and included time away for military deployment with the Tennessee Guard. He served a month-long deployment in Bulgaria, and also had several three or four-week training projects in the U.S. He was in Bulgaria during the summer, but the other deployments were during the school semester.

“Those, I had to continue with my classes from where I was,” he said. “I had to write papers during my free time, even though I was working 13 hours a day. That was a tough semester.”

Sutherland joined the U.S. Army as part of a program that allowed him to complete his training the summer between his junior and senior years in high school. He earned his undergraduate degree in youth ministry and Christian education in Ohio as part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

With a year until his next training, he took a job teaching English in Kazakhstan, a central Asian country and former Soviet republic. He learned his first words in the Kazakh language on the airplane to his new home. 

“I absolutely loved it there,” he said. “I met some fantastic people who influenced my life. They shared their culture, they shared their language. Hospitality is a base of culture in so much of the Middle East and Central Asia. Even poor families will invite you over and share their best food, and do it with such open hearts.”

He joined the Tennessee Guard after returning to the U.S., and his assignment led him to IU Kokomo.

“I was a finance officer for the military, and I’d never taken a finance course in my life,” he said. “Now I’ve learned about stocks, financial plans, economics, business, and international events.”

He’s continuing his military service, while working for a tax firm, keeping his eye firmly on his goal of working overseas later. 

Doing taxes, he noted, he sees financial records of people who earn a lot and give little, but also those who don’t earn big salaries, but give generously.

“Sometimes it’s easy to be jealous of the rich ones, rather than those who are giving,” he said. “I don’t want my goal to shift towards accumulating money. I don’t want to choose the job that will make me rich and give me an easy life. My goal is to work and support people.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 05/22/2018