In August of 2021, Staff Sergeant Bradley Pokorny ’22 MBA was deployed to Afghanistan with the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, an elite infantry specializing in parachute assault operations. When he found out he was deploying, Pokorny told his professors at the Whitman School that he would not be pulling himself out of classes. Despite being in the midst of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, he logged on from Kabul in the middle of the night to attend his Venture Capitalism and Business Law classes.
A paratrooper with 13 years of military service (eight years of active duty and five as a reservist), Pokorny has been deployed four times in the past five years and has seen 27 months in combat in total. At the same time, he has also been the CEO of his own business development company, the Ferox Group, as well as a host of other businesses he currently partners with.
Based in Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, Pokorny found a number of people in the military coming to him for advice about their own business ventures. While he had a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from the University of Phoenix, he felt he needed the credentials of an MBA to truly help others with business operations and development. So, while still on active duty in the 82nd Airborne Division, he enrolled in the online MBA program at Syracuse University’s Whitman School in 2019.
“One of the main factors in my decision was the residencies that the online MBA program offers,” he explains of the required in-person visits that focus on pertinent topics and allow students to network with classmates and faculty for a few days. “There’s something about sitting down and conversing with your professors and classmates that appealed to me, especially since the rest of the program was online. Whitman really rolled out the red carpet for our visits to campus, and everyone was so welcoming.”
Pokorny came to campus for two residencies while earning his degree, one on business topics related to the emerging cannabis industry and another on negotiations led by Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud.
He came back again for his graduation in May, this time with wife, Sable, and their two sons, age 5 and 7. “She was excited to visit Syracuse University and see the campus,” he says. “After all, she’s the real MVP – supporting me through my military career, my businesses and while earning my MBA.”
With his MBA in hand, Pokorny will end his military service at the end of November 2022. Currently, he is in the process of moving his family back to his native Texas, where he will continue to grow his businesses.
The Forex Group has evolved into a tech-centric development company specializing in helping businesses run strategic operations, including data analytics. Pokorny’s interest in expanding in the tech space will actually bring him back to Syracuse University in 2023 – at least virtually – as he plans to begin an online master’s degree program at the School of Information Studies.
His other company, Ferox Manufacturing and Consulting, just won an RFP to take over the manufacturing operations of the health and wellness division of the largest hormone and testosterone company in Texas.
Despite leaving the military, it is clear that Pokorny won’t be slowing down anytime soon – and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He believes that the skills he learned in the military matriculate well into business, and having an MBA on his resume will only help further his achievements. Clearly, his mission at the Whitman School was a success.
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