EMBA Alumni at Work: Fearless Pilot Finds the Thrill of Entrepreneurship

EMBA alumnus Devon Meister spent most of September flying into the month’s unusual and strong barrage of hurricanes – from Harvey to Irma and Jose.

Facing Danger

As a pilot for the 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the Air Force, known as the Hurricane Hunters, Meister and the crew onboard head directly into hurricanes to gather data about the storm that helps the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in forecasting direction and intensity.

“We fly through hurricanes at 10,000 feet to gather weather data for the NHC,” says Meister, U.S. Air Force Reserve major and meteorologist. “Because there are very few weather sensors to collect data on the storms in the ocean, our data is very important. It improves the forecast cone by up to 30 percent.”

Meister first learned about the Hurricane Hunters as a weather student in the Air Force. “We were given a tour through the Hurricane Hunter squadron, since the weather school was co-located in Biloxi. I always knew I wanted to be a part of the mission, but I had no idea I would be piloting the plane!”

After spending six years as a weather officer in the Air Force, she decided to take to the air. She spent two years in flight training, earned her private pilot license, passed a screening program, and completed another year of rigorous pilot training.

Another Challenge to Pursue

Another opportunity also was important to her – an MBA. “I wanted to pursue an MBA but needed to immerse myself in a program rather than complete it part time,” she says. The Washington State University Executive MBA Online offered the perfect fit.

In particular, Meister found herself drawn to the program’s capstone project. She developed the capstone business plan for Junior Authors, a company that publishes children’s books written by children.

Her capstone experience increased her appetite for entrepreneurship. “It gave me the confidence that I would be able to successfully apply the same building blocks to future endeavors as an entrepreneur.”

After graduation, she took what she learned from that capstone to launch a nutrition and fitness business, Strategic Nutrition Solutions. Although the very busy hurricane season prevented her from maintaining the business, she stays open to future business and entrepreneurship possibilities and continues to gain more knowledge. She recently completed a Six Sigma Green Belt course through work.

The program offered Meister the necessary flexibility for her job. “I worked on my EMBA from over the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and everywhere in between.”

Her EMBA experience expanded her knowledge of business, bolstered her confidence in building a business, broadened her perspectives, and introduced her to a new community of fellow EMBA students.

“It has helped me as a military leader by providing new ways to approach challenges and as an entrepreneur by giving me the know-how that I can create a successful business.”

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