Manderson MBA Student, Army Officer Embraces the Struggle


“In the military,” said Culverhouse College of Business Manderson MBA student Joe Turberville, “we’ve learned that you learn through struggling together. Without struggle, you really don’t get that far. You have to be willing to help others, and want teamwork.” So Turberville, an officer in the U.S. Army, approaches his MBA coursework in the same way.

“Day one at Alabama, they all talked about the Manderson Advantage,” he went on. “I think that that resonates in so many different ways. It’s not just a class. It’s not just the people. It is the whole experience: you’re part of this team. You’re here now. We expect this from you, but we’re going to give you so much more.”

A native of Priceville, Alabama, Turberville attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham on an ROTC scholarship, earning a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in military science, completing the Quartermaster Basic Officer Leader Course, and emerging as a second lieutenant in 2017. He was stationed at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, near where his wife, Brittany, grew up.

Now, six years later, Turberville is still technically active duty, but part of a program called the Advanced Civil Schooling Program. “What they have is they’re looking for officers to become more well-rounded,” he explained. “They understand that the business aspects are extremely crucial, especially as we are making budget cuts, make processes more efficient, and not waste taxpayer dollars.”

So he was selected among other candidates to attend a top-50 business college. The Army is paying for his graduate work, and in return, he will continue to serve in the active duty military to better the organization.

“As they invest in me, I invest back,” he said.

He was also selected for a program called the Talent Based Career Alignment Program, where highly talented officers are given the opportunity to select their career paths in advance. Turberville was selected for the Acquisition Corps as an acquisitions and procurement officer—a logistician, responsible for product development and contracting. His assignment after graduation will involve working with Department of Defense civilians, contractors, military personnel, and external agencies to develop and procure cutting edge technology for the Army.

“The military is going to give you a lot, but you’re going to work hard for it,” Turberville said. “If you really want to be successful, you have to be willing to put in the time.” So he is putting in the time, earning his MBA and preparing for a challenging career in national defense.

And in academic work, some frustrations are inevitable, like scoring lower than expected on a big test. But he struggles with his MBA classmates, and together, they improve. “What I’ve really learned is defeat or failure is the first attempt in learning,” he explained. “We’re looking at setbacks and saying, you know what, we know that we need to do better. We’re going to push for that.”

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