The times, they were a changin': "I'm in my early 60s, which makes me unlike a lot of the MBAs you think of today. When I got my MBA, two things were true: A lot fewer people got MBAs, and most people who did get them went right after getting their undergraduate degree. I didn't do that. I worked for four years, which I found was a much happier way to do it."
Why go back to school after working? "I wanted to run a business. I thought the skills I could take away from an MBA program might help me do that."
Not that it wasn't work: "Most of my classmates were in T-shirts and cutoffs. I wore a coat and tie every day and I made it my office." He completed his degree in 15 months.
He liked it so much, he bought, er, founded the company: When Keller founded the schools that bear his name, he targeted working executives, like he had been.
What's changed in business schooling over the past 36 years? "I think today there is much more of a formal kind of component for working effectively with other people. There is much more small-group work than there typically was in the '60s. There is more in the way of ethics and more in the way of the softer skills of management - the people skills."
Favorite classes: "The stuff that I really thought was terrific was the accounting and finance. I had some advice from a mentor who said, 'Look, don't come up short in your understanding of and your commitment to accounting and finance. If you want to run businesses, you've got to be able to understand these things.' "
Bottom-line recommendation for prospective MBAs: "Having an MBA gives you a confidence that you can handle and do well at addi­tional responsibilities. And that kind of confidence born out of competence is very important to the selection process for high-level executive positions."