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Jan Bodnaruk MBA

Jan’s MBA story: from civil engineer to entrepreneur

UQ people
Published 9 Feb, 2024  ·  5-minute read

After working as a civil engineer in the construction industry for 15 years, Jan Bodnaruk decided it was time to pursue his goal of being a business owner.

Although he was skilled in engineering, he realised he lacked the necessary knowledge to launch his own successful business. That’s when he enrolled in the UQ Master of Business Administration (MBA). Two weeks after completing his studies, Jan officially started BB Civil.

Jan Bodnaruk

The UQ MBA has had a massive impact on my career. Without it, I wouldn’t have had the skills nor the confidence to build my own company.

Jan Bodnaruk
Master of Business Administration

Combining civil engineering with practical business skills

As a Brisbane resident, Jan assessed the local universities offering an MBA and found UQ’s program to be a standout. He was excited to learn from world-class academics at the prestigious UQ Business School, and its convenient CBD location didn’t hurt either. He also received excellent recommendations from peers.

“Starting a business was always my goal,” says Jan.

“But I didn’t have the courage or understanding of where to start.”

As a generalist business degree, the MBA helped Jan gain new skills and apply them to his work.

“It opened my eyes to a lot of insights I hadn’t been privy to previously,” he says.

“I worked in civil engineering for 15 years, building subdivisions, bridges and other infrastructure, but what I was missing was how a business comes together and what brings people together to achieve a common goal.”

“Throughout the program, I gained key business skills like understanding finance and accounting, marketing, human resources, innovation, strategy, operations and leadership. I could easily apply these new skills where I was working and knew they were essential to start my own business.”

Jan found the leadership classes especially useful in preparing for this next step of his career.

“The leadership courses taught me how to make a company appealing to employees and clients,” he says.

“I learned how to attract people to work for us and why they would choose us for their needs. It helped me understand how to recognise people's issues and customise solutions to build a successful business."

Jan also realised he could customise his MBA assessment to his job as a civil engineer and his aspiration to own a business.

“Most of the assessment focused on how to improve specific aspects of a business,” he says.

“But towards the end of the MBA, I tailored all my assessments to help prepare me to start my own company.”

“My last subject was purely focused on what I would do and where I would start. I gained so many great insights from the program, but that last assessment especially. So much so that I was able to apply all those learnings to start a brand-new business two weeks after graduating.”

Watch UQ MBA: Jan Bodnaruk on YouTube.

Developing a broader perspective through new connections

The program content wasn’t the only aspect of the MBA that helped Jan take the next step in his career.

“One of the highlights of studying the MBA at UQ was the high calibre people I met... these networks helped me fill in knowledge gaps I wasn’t aware of,” says Jan.

“The MBA is rich with experienced professionals, from accountants, engineers and lawyers to doctors, nurses and army personnel. People from different professions think about things differently. This really gives you a great perspective, especially when doing a lot of group work.”

“Before the MBA, I had a narrow way of thinking like an engineer, but working with others from different industries gave me a broader perspective on solving problems.”

The connections Jan made at UQ proved fundamental in shaping his career after graduation.

“Most of the people I met during the program I’m still in contact with to this day; we’ve supported each other a lot,” he says.

“A few professionals engaged at BB Civil, including my solicitor and accountant, are connections I made via the MBA. I’ve also been able to offer the services of BB Civil to my new MBA connections.”

As a graduate, Jan still sees the importance of maintaining the connections with his MBA network.

“I’m still learning every day from many individuals in those networks,” he says.

“It’s great to be able to share experiences with others who are also studying later in their careers.”

Jan Bodnaruk

Making it work: mentors, support and flexibility

Jan admits it wasn’t easy to fit study into his life while maintaining full-time work. But there were two things that helped him stay on track throughout his degree:

  • the support of the teaching staff and industry mentors
  • the flexible study options that were available.

“One thing that surprised me about the UQ MBA was the quality of the academics,” says Jan.

“They are empathetic and willing to help educate students of all backgrounds, ages and experiences. Throughout the program, I had several mentors with unique skillsets I could learn from. These ranged from professors to industry professionals in the classes.”

Jan studied the MBA over 3 years. He took advantage of the program’s flexible study options by enrolling in a mixture of weeknight classes and weekend intensives.

“It was challenging and took some sacrifice, but the beauty of the MBA at UQ was the flexibility of the courses and the options we had,” says Jan.

“I chose to do most of my subjects on weeknight evenings over a 13-week semester, which suited me personally. I also did some subjects as weekend intensives, which were intense, but this meant I could get them done faster.”

Learn more about the flexible study options available to MBA students at UQ.

How the MBA helped Jan start his own successful business

When Jan began his MBA, he had the drive to own his own business and do things differently. The MBA allowed him to shift his mindset, pivot in his career and achieve his goal.

“My MBA journey has definitely shown me the right path to start a business,” he says.

“It also reaffirmed that that’s exactly what I wanted to do. Two weeks after graduating, I started my own civil construction company BB Civil, which specialises in residential subdivisions.

“Deciding to enter the construction market with a new business might have seemed crazy. The construction market is very competitive and there’s a lot of volatility at the moment, with prices being very high.”

“But it’s now two years since I started the company, and it’s still going strong. By applying the learnings from my MBA and offering something a little bit different, we’ve had nothing but success. We’re not out to compete with others. We’re out to compete with ourselves and do better today than we did yesterday.”

Learn more about the UQ MBA Read other MBA stories

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