He Owes His Career To His NJIT EMBA: Brandon Rockwell '11

Brandon Rockwell '11

When Brandon Rockwell ’11 started NJIT’s EMBA program, he was employed in information technology; now he serves as Vice President of business development for a global pharmaceutical company. He attributes his success to a combination of hard work and his EMBA degree from NJIT’s Martin Tuchman School of Management.

At Par Pharmaceutical—the fourth-largest generic pharmaceutical company in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Endo, a leading global specialty pharmaceutical company — Rockwell manages a cross-functional department of 17 employees. This global unit is comprised of Business Development, Portfolio Management, Project Management and Strategic API Sourcing.

Rockwell has played an integral role in setting the strategic direction of the company through Par's acquisitions of Edict, Anchen, JHP Pharmaceuticals and the integration of Qualitest into Par. He has 10 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, having held various prior positions in business development, project management and information systems. Before joining Par, he was an IT systems administrator for MYOB and a systems engineer for TrueFit Solutions.

Rockwell, who has a Bachelor of Science degree from Grove City College, knew about NJIT through his father, Bruce Rockwell, a 1987 graduate of the university in electrical engineering. However, was not as familiar with the EMBA program when he began to consider studying for a master’s degree.

“The school has a great history for technology,” Rockwell said. “When I began my search, I was in information technology and exploring part-time MBAs. When I called, I spoke with the directors of a few schools who just sent me their programs. However, when speaking to the director at NJIT, she probed deeper and asked for some of my background. She then suggested an EMBA.”

Rockwell read a bit more online about how EMBAs differed from traditional MBA programs before finally settling on an EMBA and making the decision that he wanted to experience a program with a local classroom component.

“Having a personal connection with a cohort of experienced peers is invaluable in a management program,” Rockwell said. “From there, accreditation and location were the two most important factors in narrowing my search. I was searching for an MBA program in northern New Jersey that was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. I was surprised to see that so many other programs that I had heard good things about were not accredited. Specifically, Stevens Institute was a top pick for me to explore and it was surprising to learn they were not on the accreditation list.”

Realizing the importance of a program “just feeling right,” Rockwell visited his top three picks: Fairleigh Dickinson, NJIT and Rutgers. Contrasting his NJIT visit with the others, NJIT clearly stood out as a place where he believed that he would have the best MBA experience.

“Arriving at NJIT, I was greeted warmly by Elaine Frazier, director of the EMBA program, who quickly invited me to attend a class there,” he recalled. “Ultimately, my classroom visit at NJIT made my decision clear.”

Midway through the EMBA program, Rockwell was enrolled in an international marketing course where the professor gave students the assignment of developing a marketing plan for introducing a product that had been developed in one country into another country. While most of his peers chose a product for the general consumer market, Rockwell wanted a more complex challenge. So he decided to develop a plan to importing generic drugs manufactured in the U.S. into Brazil.

“As an IT professional working for a pharmaceutical company, my knowledge of the industry was limited to reading the bottles in my medicine cabinet,” Rockwell said. “I spent the next month researching pricing, importation challenges, product names, regulations and local laws to understand the barriers to entry. I learned about my business and put together what I believed was a solid plan to submit to our professor. Unfortunately, the professor threw us a curveball when he challenged us to also submit our plans to the companies we developed these for in an effort to solicit feedback from executives.”

Rockwell was the only person in the class who based his report on his own company.

“Here I was, as an infrastructure engineer, blindly submitting my marketing plan up the ladder at my company,” Rockwell said. “I passed it along to the head of the IT group who in turn passed it up. A few weeks later, I heard that the president found it interesting and wanted me to meet with a director of business development to explore the idea. I then spent a few weeks working with him calling companies in Brazil, which then led to similar calls around Asia, the South Pacific, Africa and Europe. Nothing seemed to really result from my idea at the time, but the director liked the way I approached problems with an analytical view and the company created a new position for me in business development.”

Since then, Rockwell has worked his way up, overseeing acquisitions and completing multinational deals. He now oversees multiple departments and has a global group. He reports directly into the CEO, the same president who created the job for him.

“I developed a partnership with one of the companies that I called years ago and I can say that we are successfully exporting our products overseas. We’re not doing it entirely how I had proposed during the EMBA program, but I have learned a lot more since NJIT,” Rockwell said. “I still have the report on my shelf and flip through it from time to time. Many people can say that they owe their career to what they learned in their MBA program—but NJIT really did a lot for me.”

Rockwell said that the international studies tour was his most memorable moment as an EMBA student. At NJIT, the course is designed to compare two nations that are geographically co-located but have developed differently. The cohort then chooses their own locations; Rockwell’s cohort chose Argentina and Brazil.

“We visited the owner of a liquor company who took us to his house and explained how he revitalized his company,” Rockwell said. “He shared some very personal stories with us and then as a group we had a chance to relax and just enjoy meeting a group of executives together as a class. For me, this is when our cohort really started to gel cohesively more than ever before. This instance always sticks out in my mind.”

What advice would he give current students who are considering a similar career path?

“If you invest in yourself, do not waste it. Do not wait until the program is over to implement what you learn. Take advantage of what you learn during the program and use it as you go. Never stop learning. And do something for someone younger—give them an opportunity. Helping someone with an opportunity will really benefit you as well.”

Christina Crovetto

This story is tagged: alumni, martin tuchman school of management . Or read more Feature Stories.