Spring 2019 - MBA Alumni Spotlight

Ted Spinelli

CPT Edward (Ted) Spinelli '18 MBA
US Army, 2018 Villanova MBA Grad in Strategic Management and Analytics

Ted Spinelli, graduated in May 2018 and has followed in the footsteps of both his grandparents – who served during WWII – and his father, a retired  Army lawyer. Ted has much to feel proud of this year – in addition to his achievements at Villanova, he also graduated in July from the very elite Army Ranger School in Fort Benning, GA. His most recent adventure took him on a cross-country drive to Riverside, CA where he’ll be teaching in the Claremont McKenna College Army ROTC program, located at the University of California Riverside.

Q1) What is it about the military that motivated you to pursue a career in the US Army?

My family has a tradition of military service – both my grandparents and my dad served.  I knew that joining an ROTC program and pursuing a career with the Army would help me pay for college.  I earned my BS in Mechanical Engineering at Notre Dame. Prior to graduation, I had an epiphany of sorts at a three-week training event in Hawaii.  The experience of following around a combat platoon for three weeks switched my focus from pursuing a Reserve or National Guard position after college to instead applying to go on Active Duty.  I wanted the opportunity to jump out of planes, deploy, and challenge myself in Army schooling. I deployed to Ghazni Province, Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne Division in 2014.  I have had the opportunity to go to Airborne, Sapper, and Ranger schools. I am very happy and satisfied with that decision to go on Active Duty and excited about sharing those experiences with the next generation of junior officers.

Q2) As a ranking second lieutenant, you found yourself as the commanding officer over Non-Commissioned Officers with more experience. How would you describe the management techniques you used?

It’s important to first know that the Army has a method with establishing officer and noncommissioned officer relationships. My situation was not unique in that respect. An officer is paired with a senior enlisted service member for guidance and mentoring. I learned is that I’m always going to listen and I mean truly listen.  Ideas can come from anywhere in an organization, especially from those with more experience. I have found that my job is to simply provide guidance and intent, then let my more experienced subordinates run with it.

Q3) What made you decide to choose Villanova’s MBA program?

I always knew I wanted to complete my MBA, I assumed I wouldn’t be able to do so while still on active duty.  Fortunately, circumstances made it possible to pursue a part-time program while I was assigned in Philadelphia, and Villanova’s Fast-Track program offered full-time experience in a part-time setting. I knew I wanted the cohort experience. I got to know 40+ outstanding individuals who I interacted with every single day. That gives such a sense of community! And when circumstances changed again and I needed to transfer to the online program, I was able to continue my studies without interruption. I definitely made the right decision; earning my MBA at Villanova has helped me bring a fresh perspective into the positions I’ve held in the US Army.

Q4) What is it like to jump out of an airplane?

I think a common misconception is that it is skydiving. I actually had the opportunity to go on a tandem jump recently – tethered to an instructor – and it’s fairly different. When you’re skydiving, you’ve got a lot of time to think about making your exit and frankly enjoy the 30-60 seconds of freefall from 10,000 feet. In military airborne operations, you’re jumping out at just 1,000 feet off the ground and using a static line – 6 seconds later, your chute is open. It’s an awesome adrenaline rush, but in the end it is just a means to get on the ground for a follow-on mission.

Interviewed by Anne Krepacki MBA ’87