Student Profile: Transforming Business and Future Leaders
Interview with Derrick Horsley
The following profile is the thirteenth in a series of student profiles of our students and alumni at the university.
Job title: President and CEO of The Horsley Group, LLC, Douglasville, GA
Degree earned: Master of Arts in Management with concentration in Organizational Leadership, 2012, American Military University and Bachelor of Arts in Management with concentration in Human Resource Management, 2009, American Military University
What have you been doing since earning your degree at AMU?
After earning my B.A. and M.A., I retired from the United States Army as a Human Resources Chief Warrant Officer after more than 25 years of service to our great nation. During my service, I was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
After retirement, I was employed by the Department of Defense as a human resource manager at Fort Meade, MD. I am an independent certified coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team. I am an adjunct professor with Central Texas College, teaching business management, human resources management, leadership and supervisory courses. I am pursuing a doctorate degree in education with a specialization in higher education leadership and management from Walden University.
What led you to choose a master’s degree with us? Was it based on passion or a specific career goal?
I chose a master’s degree from American Military University based on my passion for leadership, coaching, teaching and speaking. More importantly, I always wanted to become the President and CEO of my own company. The coursework for my master’s degree and concentration in organizational leadership set me up for being the President/CEO of any organization.
Tell us about your position at your employer.
In my position as the President and CEO of The Horsley Group, LLC, I transform business leaders on a daily basis through corporate finance management, organizational behavior, organizational leadership, organizational management, leadership, strategic planning, ethics in leadership, coaching, training, teaching, speaking and masterminding. I empower individuals who lead from the top, middle or bottom of an organization, helping them develop a positive attitude and a strong work ethic in corporate, small businesses and government contracting.
Also, I coach and teach executive officers on how to streamline processes to reach their bottom line. I facilitate managers and leaders through masterminding, peer brainstorming, education, accountability and support groups. I am responsible for corporate, strategic and business planning; financial management oversight; and corporate business outreach.
Did your degree with AMU help prepare you for specific challenges you’ve come across in your field?
AMU prepared me for all the challenges I face today as the President and CEO of my company. A lot of presidents and CEOs of organizations are so focused on reaching their bottom line that they are paying little attention to their employees’ growth.
The success of a business rises and falls on leadership. My degree in organizational leadership taught me and other students to become transformational leaders by adding value to the employees and the organization on a daily basis.
How important are advanced degrees within the realm of HR?
Advanced degrees and certifications are very critical to the realm of human resources, because they allow you stay abreast to all the changes. They give you the knowledge you need to be an expert in your field of study. With an advanced degree, you could be placed in a managerial or supervisory role.
Is there a particular class or professor at AMU that stood out?
My course on management and organizational leadership stood out to me because I became a leader at a young age. I was a Boy Scout, Eagle Scout and captain of my high school football defensive team. I continued developing my leadership skills by enlisting in the Army, obtaining the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7) and receiving my commission as an Army Chief Warrant Officer.
The class that stood out to me throughout my studies was on leadership by Professor Jan Spencer. Although I had a lot of leadership skills from my civilian life and through military training, she opened my eyes so that I saw leadership from a broader perspective.
What are two key pieces of advice you would pass on to someone new to online education?
For me, online courses were vital to me obtaining my degrees. By being in the military, going on temporary duty, working late hours and being deployed, going to school online was the key to me successfully obtaining both my B.A. and M.A. degrees from AMU.
In the past, I took courses in brick-and-mortar institutions. I had to get off work, rush home, try to spend quality time with my family, do chores, eat and try to make it to class on time. After I left class around 9 p.m., I would drive home, try to do homework, take a shower and go to bed because I had to be at work (formation) by 6 a.m. to do physical training.
What is your favorite thing about online learning?
My favorite thing about taking classes at American Military University is that all the coursework is asynchronous; you can login and do your work within the prescribed time. I could get off work, drive home, spend quality time with my family and login.
I could do my homework assignments from the comfort of my home or during temporary duty or deployment. In fact, I completed some of my master’s degree while I was deployed.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy spending quality time with my family, fraternity brothers and friends. I work out; I am a Master Fitness Trainer where I transform my clients’ bodies and minds on a daily basis.
I also give back to my community by being a mentor and volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a lifetime member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., we give back through our mandated programs: Achievement Week, scholarships, social action programs, talent hunt program and health initiatives, as well as voter registration, education and mobilization, etc.
Our student profile series gives a face and personality to our dedicated online learners at the university. Interested in learning more about your online education options? Explore our schools and programs at AMU.