Travis Douville – Why Pursuing his Marylhurst MBA Online Was the Perfect Fit
By Auriana Cook
Travis Douville speaks about sustainable energy with a contagious level of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm started as a spark while working on a wind energy research project at The Boeing Company in 2010. From there, it grew into a full-blown passion which he devoted himself to through the MBA in Sustainable Business program at Marylhurst. After graduating in 2015, Travis was hired by Vestas, a global company dedicated to wind energy solutions. He looks back on his Marylhurst experience with gratitude and looks to the future with excitement and lots of long-term ideas.
Journey to Marylhurst
Travis worked on the wind energy project at Boeing for about a year. When the project ended, his life grew increasingly busy as he and his wife welcomed their first son into the world in 2012. But he couldn’t shake the ideas that the project had set in motion. He realized he wanted to make a contribution to renewable energy in a people-facing leadership role, and these specific interests led him to the Sustainable MBA program at Marylhurst.
Travis, who lived in the Puget Sound area while working at Boeing and taking classes, describes the appeal of Marylhurst. “The online flexibility with one young son and full-time work commitments was imperative. After experiences in open-ended Ph.D. programs, the fact that I could (and did!) finish in 18 months appealed to the practical ‘doer’ in me,” he says.
Even though it seemed like a good fit, Travis wasn’t initially sure what to expect at Marylhurst. Having attended the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering in 2004 and 2006, Travis says that he “did not expect such a qualified and committed faculty from a lesser-known institution.” His Marylhurst experience exceeded his expectations: “Marylhurst was a school for mature and committed adults. The faculty followed suit and added real-life expertise to the rich blend of professional and geographic perspectives I engaged with,” he says.
Travis feels grateful for the talented and supportive instructors in the Sustainable MBA program and the classes they teach. He reminisces about these highlights, saying, “The initial Intro to Sustainability course taught by Paul Ventura set the tone. Marketing with Wendi Butler made me acutely aware of the business strategy that surrounds us all as consumers. Going into the Principles of Leadership course, I didn’t understand how one could study leadership in a formal way, but I learned a ton about myself through 360 assessments and identified the specific traits I had implicitly valued in some of the most effective leaders.”
One of the most rewarding experiences for Travis while earning his MBA was his capstone project. The project entailed working with Providence Health and Services to “complete benefits-cost analyses of high-temperature fuel cells versus microturbines for on-site power generation at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center,” he describes. Richard Beam, Chief Environmental Officer at Providence and Travis’ capstone sponsor, saw an opportunity to use Travis’ skills to revisit the decision to pursue microturbines at Holy Cross Medical Center in Southern California. Travis ultimately concluded that microturbines were the better investment for Providence. He received great feedback from Beam, who was impressed by the thoroughness of the study.
Not putting life on hold: challenges and curveballs
Although Travis found his time at Marylhurst rewarding, completing his degree did not come without its own set of challenges. Travis and his wife Becky had made an agreement not to put life on hold while Travis pursued his degree — and they stuck to this agreement.
While Travis plugged away at his MBA courses, he and Becky bought a house, rented out a house, and sold a house. All of this was with their young son, Cadel, in tow. Then Becky became pregnant with their second child, who would be due just before Travis finished the program. And if life wasn’t hectic enough, the family was hit with another curveball: “A sudden cold snap Thanksgiving 2014 when we were out of town led to an unexpected home repair for several weeks in December, during which we had to move out. My wife was eight months pregnant,” Travis explained.
But Travis was nothing if not persistent. “I’ll never forget tweaking my capstone pro forma in a hotel room and the basement of an AirBnB, doing demolition on Saturdays, and bringing the contractors coffee before I went to work so that we could get back into the house before baby. My youngest son, Charles, was born four days early, one day after we moved back home, and roughly two months before I finished the capstone and graduated,” he remembers.
About halfway through his MBA program, Travis made his next career move and accepted a promotional job offer from a start-up consulting company. Leaving Boeing meant giving up a tuition reimbursement benefit that his employer offered.
Travis decided to persist in pursuing an MBA without a tuition reimbursement plan. He explains that after moving to a smaller company, “the MBA made even more sense. Life was busy but I sensed a career evolution. Ultimately, I wanted to continue down the path I had started with Marylhurst.”
Travis paid out of pocket for his remaining MBA courses, but he has already begun to see a return on the investment in the form of opportunities that have arisen since graduating. “I suspect I’ll look back on my career someday and be able to gauge the full return, but I’m certainly pleased so far,” Travis says.
A thriving career, family and future
Post-Marylhurst, Travis accepted a job at Vestas, a global energy company devoted exclusively to wind energy. Vestas relocated Travis and his family to Portland. “The last six months have been a blur of excitement and learning. Wind energy is undergoing another period of explosive growth . . . Eleven- or twelve-hour days aren’t uncommon so far but they go by quickly,” he says.
Vestas has already sent Travis traveling far and wide — he describes his experiences climbing a wind turbine in Pueblo, Colorado and observing manufacturing sites in Ringkobing, Denmark, among others. At the time of this interview, he was traveling to New Orleans for an American Wind Energy Association conference, where he was nominated as an Emerging Leader.
Life may not have calmed down for Travis since graduating with his MBA in Sustainable Business, but he still does an admirable job balancing family and work life. “I spend most of my free time these days wrestling with my two sons,” he says. He also speaks about his career goals for the future, saying, “I am still an engineer at heart, so I suspect I will be tied to technology in some way. Long-term, I would love to lead teams which address combined renewable development or which bring novel renewable energy technologies to market.”
Travis’ dedication to his family and his passion for sustainable business clearly go hand-in-hand. He discusses these two intertwining areas of his life with equal parts enthusiasm, and he looks to the future of each with excitement. He even compares sustainable energy to a healthy relationship, saying, “Sustainability is not only about cutting back, reducing and eliminating. As Alexander Laszlo asked us in the conclusion of the program, ‘Would you describe your marriage as sustainable?’ Instead, a truly sustainable relationship is one that is thriving, pulsing with energy, growth and new directions.”
// Learn more about the M.B.A. in Sustainable Business at Marylhurst University
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