How does having an MBA help someone become a principal of a consulting firm in the Chicago area? We talked with Jay Beaton, principal of On The Beaton Path, LLC, a consulting firm based in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Beaton has an MBA from Northern Illinois University (NIU), and a bachelor’s degree from Salem State College. Before he established his consulting firm, Beaton had extensive experience in the sales and marketing sides of the hospitality and media industries.

A typical day for Beaton might include emailing current clients and potential clients, as well as networking with other companies in the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. He also has an internship program with students from NIU and he works closely with them. He emphasized that his company has a service-oriented philosophy, which is something he learned from his years in the hospitality industry.

Consulting Firm Principal Jay Beaton (image courtesy of Jay Beaton)

Consulting Firm Principal Jay Beaton (image courtesy of Jay Beaton)

What is the benefit of having an MBA?

“I don’t think many people would take business advice from someone without an MBA. It’s also important to have the business experience. The MBA also helped me refine what I already knew.”

How does your degree help you in your day-to-day career?

“I wouldn’t have the company I have today without my MBA. The degree helped me formulate my business model, and also helped me with time management. The skills I learned also help me every day. Because of my MBA, my company is a success.”

How do you keep your skills up-to-date?

“I tap into what the interns I work with know, as they are so up-to-date on their knowledge of management. I also research extensively in areas that the firm practices and see what’s out there in terms of tools and software. It gives us a competitive edge by researching what is available.”

Beaton also added that he emphasizes to his staff the importance of everyone working together. “I tell everyone that we are stronger as a team than we are on our own, and that everyone plays a significant factor in success,” he explained.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at