Talk about self-made and self-taught. While Jack Condon has earned the requisite degrees—he received his MBA at Woodbury and currently teaches business courses at the university and at Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC)—his route to academia is a testament to enterprise, self-reliance and grit.
Jack left home at 18 to see the world, his sights set on Manhattan and, down the road, L.A. His first stop turned out to be New Jersey, where he found work at a manufacturing firm and proceeded to learn everything he could about company operations, devouring product manuals during his off hours. A colleague chided Jack for his intense work ethic; for him, it was a point of pride.
Within a year, that invite to L.A. arrived in the form of a transfer and a promotion. Life was good: “I was the youngest person ever to receive such an offer, and they were paying me to move to the other place I wanted to live,” he recalls. More than that, he was getting noticed within the company.
Soon after, his entrepreneurial gears really engaged. He decided to write a book showcasing his childhood collection of Charlie’s Angels memorabilia, a stash so vast that it made the Guinness Book of World Records. Jack published the book in 2000 and, L.A. being L.A.—and Charlie’s Angels being a hot property again—he called upon that grit and sheer determination to turn the book into a film. And sure enough, NBC adapted it as a television movie in 2004. With some of the proceeds, he acquired an established movie memorabilia store and began to work independently. “It was a dream come true,” he says—until a fire abruptly extinguished that dream.
“For the first time in my life, I was at a loss, depressed and depleted,” Jack says. His epiphany? It was time to go back to school; in August 2009, he registered at LAVC. “I didn’t know why I was there or what I would do once I began, but to be an entrepreneur, sometimes it takes a shift in thinking. I shifted my thinking in the hope that I’d learn more about business and eventually be able to resurrect my company.”
Jack worked diligently and eventually transferred to California State University, Northridge. “Before long, I did what I thought was the unimaginable—I graduated college!” he says. Not long after, academia came looking for him; LAVC wanted him to teach—he just needed an MBA. Jack applied to an online program and was accepted, only to learn that it wasn’t AACSB accredited.
Enter Woodbury’s MBA Open House and Dr. Satinder Dhiman, School of Business associate dean. “I ended up sitting at a round table next to Dr. Dhiman in a conference room,” Jack recalls. “He talked, I listened. I became enraptured at the idea of the program.” After speaking with Dr. Dhiman one-on-one, he enrolled.
“At Woodbury, I developed the capability to think beyond what I’d learned at my previous schools,” he says. “Woodbury allowed me to discover more, grow further and embrace new opportunities.” Among those opportunities: a request from Dr. Dhiman to teach a Finance class for the summer High School Academy program; a management class at LAVC; and, more recently, a course within Woodbury’s BBA program.
“I’m now sharing the lessons of my experiences with my students — not only as a business owner, but as a student myself,” Jack says. “Teaching wasn’t on my agenda when I enrolled in college. Neither was earning three degrees in less than six years. It just goes to show that you don’t have to settle. With a spirit of entrepreneurship, perseverance and determination, anything can happen.”