In today’s workforce, it’s no longer common for an individual to work for the same company their entire career. In fact, in 2014, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At Easter Seals Crossroads, a central Indiana disability services nonprofit, the average is closer to 6.85 years, thanks to people like Wade Wingler. After receiving a degree in sociology, Wingler joined Easter Seals Crossroads in 1993 as an assistive technology trainer where he provided statewide direct assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities in their home, at work or in educational settings. Flash forward 22 years to find Wingler still making the same commute to Easter Seals Crossroads but in a leadership role.
As Wingler learned more about assistive technology and as technology access continued to improve for all consumers in the early 1990s, he spent his spare time educating students through adjunct teaching at Vincennes University and the Indiana University School of Education as well as guest lecturing at almost every college and university in the state of Indiana.
Brian Norton, manager of assistive technology clinical services at Easter Seals Crossroads, has worked with Wingler for the past 17 years.
“He is one of the most driven persons I’ve ever been around,” Norton said. “He never stops looking for ways to improve himself and those around him. The passion he displays at work is magnetic and propels everyone to keep pushing forward.”
In 2013, Wingler decided to pursue a Masters in Business Administration to continue to advance his skills.
“I wanted to learn more about executive leadership and how business works in the for-profit world. There are an enormous amount of concepts, tools, and strategies that can be successfully applied to non-profit organizations,” Wingler said. “The same kinds of strategies for most efficiently serving customers, creating sustainable competitive advantages that differentiate an organization from others, and maximizing the business efficiency of technology systems are all lessons from the business world that are applicable.”
While researching MBA programs, Wade discovered Indiana State University’s Scott College of Business. As a resident of Danville, Ind., Wade needed a program that was flexible for his employer and his family. The Professional MBA program that he chose meets in Plainfield, is focused face-to-face instruction rather than an online-only model and is designed for working professionals. It also allowed him to build lasting relationships with other like-minded professionals that have further extended his professional network.
Any Indiana State MBA student or graduate can explain that while the flexible distance programs allow full-time workers to achieve their professional development goals, balancing everything is still challenging, but Wingler has always utilized his knowledge of technology to his advantage.
“Balancing home, work and school within a schedule that was already very full was difficult,” he said. “I became very skilled in time management, my family was incredibly supportive and I did most of my school work in the very early morning hours — 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. — before my work and family responsibilities kicked in each day.”
Wingler graduated in May 2015 after spending two years in the Scott College of Business ProMBA program.
“I started applying many of the marketing, organizational management and leadership skills I learned during the program right away. We have already experienced program growth based on those changes,” Wingler said. “Strategic staffing, up-to-date marketing approaches and higher-level analysis of business information have all contributed to the continued growth and stability of the programs that I oversee. Now that I have finished my MBA, I have a new set of tools for analysis and decision making to apply. I hope to continue to move my programs, my staff and the entire organization as a whole into increased information gathering, management and data-based decision making.”
It did not take long for Easter Seals Crossroads to notice. In October 2015, Wingler was promoted to vice president of technology and information services, a new position focused on leading the information technology support for all three of Easter Seals Crossroads’ locations including their manufacturing facility. He is continuing to manage the assistive technology clinical program and the INDATA (Indiana Assistive Technology Act) Project but with increased support from his staff as he transitions into his new role.
Patrick Sandy, president and CEO of Easter Seals Crossroads, has watched Wade develop into a hard working, dedicated employee.
“During the past 17 years, I have seen Wade grow from a young man with energy, passion and enthusiasm, who wanted to change the world for persons with disabilities, to a man with all those things and the leadership and analytical skills to make it happen,” he said. “I am excited to give him that opportunity.”
“Without Indiana State University’s Masters of Business Administration program, I would not be able to get the right education at the right time in my life. They recognized the value that my professional experience brought to the academic process and helped me to apply more sophisticated thinking to real life problems. I walked away with a new collections of tools to help me lead Easter Seals Crossroads into the future,” Wingler said.