Student Success

Innovative Leadership Focus Enhances Experience for Father and Son EMBA Students

Mark and Nick Gust put what they learn in OU’s Executive MBA program to work for their business immediately.

Two men sitting in chairs working on computers.

Mark Gust, founder and CEO of Industrial Automation, and his son Nick, program manager, Industrial Automation, are refining their business capabilities and learning innovative leadership strategies in OU’s Executive MBA program (Photo Credit: Rob Hall)

icon of a calendarApril 7, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Susan Thwing

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Lifelong learning is a proven factor for success. That’s a philosophy the father-son duo of Mark and Nick Gust embraced when they simultaneously enrolled in Oakland University’s Executive MBA (EMBA) program. 

Mark, founder and CEO of Industrial Automation, an Auburn Hills-based OEM, says the appeal of taking classes with his son was two-fold. “The essential part of Oakland’s Executive MBA is that it provides you with skills and knowledge you can put to work right away. We don’t have to be finished with the program to walk away with new concepts to apply to our work to benefit our clients,” Mark says. “Also, we’re competitive and we like to do things together.” 

The EMBA is designed to support experienced and high-potential professionals in their quest to perfect leadership skills and build executive understanding. Through this focus, Oakland University Executive MBA students cultivate the capability and confidence to lead in a dynamic global business environment. Professionals across the spectrum engage and learn alongside accomplished peers. 

That’s precisely the benefit Jeff Klei, president, Continental, and member of the Board of Visitors for the OU Business School, identified for the Gusts when he penned a recommendation for both. 

“The two of them decided to take this journey together,” Klei says. “A young, very sharp, highly motivated engineer with a very experienced business owner who will bring a tremendous amount of real-world experience,” he adds, reinforcing the advantages for the Gusts and Oakland University’s Executive MBA program.

Nick launched his career at Continental as an Associate Development Engineer after graduating from University of Michigan. Later, his father convinced him to join Industrial Automation where he now works as a Program Manager. His professional background combined with the advanced education he’s gaining through OU’s EMBA program is giving him a valuable vantage point while bringing business theories to life. 

Guest lectures by industry executives reinforce key learnings and highlight the relevancy of the curriculum. “The different perspectives and network of presenters builds upon what we learn in class through their expertise and insight,” Nick says. 

Even though they are at different stages of their careers, both Gusts are leveraging their own work history and drawing on their unique knowledge base to further refine critical business capabilities while learning innovative leadership strategies. 

“So much has changed since I began my career -- not just in the obvious ways such as computers and how the work was physically done -- but in the concepts and methods that we learn in class and apply to our business,” says Mark. 

For Nick, the Executive MBA serves a foundation to build his executive acumen and grow professionally across the experience threshold. With a focus on core business competencies and executive leadership, the Oakland University EMBA is enhancing Nick’s ability to keep moving forward with his career. 

After seeing the immediate return on their investment, Mark has only accolades for the Oakland University Executive MBA program and is encouraging other members of the Industrial Automation staff to enroll. 

The program’s alternating weekend schedule, full-service student support and OU’s central location rounds out the OU Executive MBA as the great choice for busy, full-time professionals.

  • CEO and founder of Industrial Automation LLC
  • Bachelor’s, Business Marketing, Ferris State University
  • Established in 1992, Industrial Automation services primarily OEM, Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive companies. The company crafts effective assembly solutions, born from ingenuity, collaboration and transparency.
  • Program Manager, Industrial Automation LLC
  • Bachelor’s, Industrial and Operational Engineering, University of Michigan
  • Certified in robotic vision and robotic arc welding by FANUC Robotics
    Prior to joining Industrial Automation, Nick worked at Continental for five years as an engineer and intern.

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