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The College of Business and Public Policy prepares students for leadership at the frontiers of a changing world. Our “Real-World Solutions” series focuses on students and graduates who are applying their expertise to meet today’s challenges and make a meaningful impact in our communities.

Leadership and Balancing Priorities

An Interview with Patrick Rider May 17, 2021
Patrick Rider, MBA, 2020, celebrates with his wife Rosa and daughter Emily after Rosa’s UAA graduation in 2017. Patrick Rider, MBA, 2020, celebrates with his wife Rosa and daughter Emily after Rosa’s UAA graduation in 2017.

Patrick Rider finished his Master of Business Administration degree in December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. He had been working toward this goal since 2015, when he was inspired to learn more about leadership. As a new manager, he wanted to be able to help his employees weather changes in the oil industry. Since then, Patrick has juggled family, career and university courses. The last of his studies were completed online due to COVID-19. The pandemic brought dramatic change, but also opportunity, as Patrick found a new leadership role with the Municipality of Anchorage’s COVID-19 response efforts.

What is your role at the Municipality?

I serve as Deputy Operations Section Chief for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA). Our strategic objective is to provide a safe environment for the public, with respect to COVID-19, through information and guidance, providing COVID-19 vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and Mass Care operations.

My section, Operations, is responsible for the tactics to fulfill this strategic objective. My team specifically consists of 3 branches:

  • Public Health. We monitor, evaluate, and communicate the MOA’s effort to test for COVID-19 in our community.
  • Medical Counter Measures. We monitor MOA, State, and Federal guidance regarding the dispensing of COVID-19 vaccines and work with personnel to ensure vaccinations are appropriately targeted within the community.
  • Mass Care. We manage MOA COVID-19 sheltering capacities for People Experiencing Homelessness (PEH).

My role, in conjunction with the Operations Section Chief, is to provide leadership to this team to ensure our needs are met in order to fulfill our tactical objectives. I work with our logistics, planning, and finance sections to support one another’s roles and responsibilities to fulfill the strategic objectives put forth by our Command unit regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic.

How did your CBPP student experience/coursework prepare you for the work you're doing now?

The CBPP was instrumental in preparing me for this leadership role.

Foundationally, my MBA program provided key knowledge in accounting, finance, and economics. From the perspective of situational awareness, these skills are always critical in any endeavor whether one is in the private or public sector such as my current role with the MOA.

I completed my MBA program with an emphasis in Leadership. Fundamentally, leadership is about harnessing the combined efforts of individuals towards a common objective. The strategic objective of my current role is to provide a safe environment to our community in the face of COVID-19. My resources to achieve this goal are the talented individuals in my team relentlessly working to manage this pandemic’s devastating effect in Anchorage. Engaging in crucial conversations to reach tactical solutions for our overall strategic objective is what we engage in each day. I am fortunate that learning how to have these critical conversations and how to think strategically are at the core of the MBA Leadership program for the CBPP.

What was it like juggling family and work responsibilities while pursuing your MBA?

2015 was a transformational year in my development. At this time, I worked in the oil and gas industry. In 2015, I moved from a field engineer position to one of management. This role’s first challenge was that the oil and gas market was facing a historic downturn. In an effort to reinforce my ability to manage and lead my team through their fears during this obstacle, I made the decision to enroll in the MBA program with the CBPP. Finally, this was also the year my wife and I brought our daughter into this world.

Family, career, and school is a balancing act I share with many of my fellow students in the CBPP and UAA. For me, these years balancing all three were simultaneously the most challenging and the most rewarding of my life. I would make the choice to balance these three endeavors again in a heartbeat. The skill of balancing priorities is a key component of any leadership role. Furthermore, the experiences I have of simultaneously leading and managing a team, educating myself, and raising and loving a family are memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.