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ASU Online student one of the first to graduate through adidas partnership

ASU Online student Charles Gentry

Charles Gentry of Boston was drawn to ASU's Thunderbird School of Global Management and its online Master of Applied Leadership and Management program.

May 12, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Charles Gentry always had a goal to go back to school to earn his master’s degree, but he also knew that was sometimes easier said than done. So when Gentry started working for adidas on the Reebok Finance team three years ago and learned about the educational partnership between adidas and Arizona State University, he decided to take a leap of faith. 

“I had just started working for the company when the partnership was announced, and I thought it was great. After attending an informational session at work, I decided it was time to stop putting it off and just put my mind to it,” he said.

Having already developed an interest in gaining international business experience, Gentry enrolled in the online Master of Applied Leadership and Management.

“ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management was the main draw in my decision to take advantage of the program and attend ASU,” he said. “With the global aspect of the program, it was the best school for exposure with a global lens.”

During his time at ASU, Gentry came to appreciate the resources he was offered and is thankful for the experience he was able to have.

“At the end of the day, it really speaks volumes about ASU and Thunderbird that they care about their students. The effort all staff put in truly shows they care about the students and really embrace the program so that everyone succeeded.”

Continue reading to learn more about Gentry’s experience as an online student and as one of the first students to graduate through the adidasED x ASU Scholarship. 

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: Once I started researching Thunderbird, what really stuck out to me was the research and exposure I would get to the student base all over the world. I realized this would not only benefit my current role but would help in moving forward as well. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: When I first started the program, I was not a fan of group projects as you could be pulled in 100 different directions. But throughout the program, I started to embrace everything they brought. With classmates all over the world, you really learned how to be flexible with time and you learned to embrace that they were able to bring to the table towards your final goal. 

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Robert Owen is the professor that stuck with me the longest. He would answer emails or questions all day, every day. I could email him on a Saturday and he would respond within an hour or two. He really seemed to have compassion and care for his students and their success. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don’t let the assignments and hours get you down. Power through as there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It always feels like you are bogged down with work and there are not enough hours, but manage your time and you will get through and succeed. 

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: I would say my favorite spot to study would be outside on the back porch. It was great during summer to be able to get sunlight and not be stuck inside all day, to embrace the springtime weather. During winter months, my favorite spot in Boston was at a local coffee shop down the street. It was nice to be somewhere different and see what was happening in the community. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation, I plan to continue working at adidas. I would like to be able to transition to focus more on the global aspect of the business. I would also like to continue my studies as I am never content with what I know. I am always looking for the next skill I can add. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: It would be to focus on the reduction of single-use plastics. Adidas has a project where they manufacture plastic ocean waste into sneakers. I would use the money to help create products to reduce and not damage the environment. To help use what we already have available. 

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