Matthew Seawright Is Ready to Lead After Completing Educational Dream
Matthew Seawright found himself in a tough spot. After a decade working in the banking industry, he had transitioned into a management position at a high-end retail store. But he was finding that he wasn’t very good at his job.
“I just realized I wasn’t happy, and it wasn’t about the job. It was about me and how I was doing the job,” he said. “I was just a bad communicator.”
When he was let go by the company during a layoff, Seawright committed himself and his future - to finish the college degree he had begun half a dozen times before. Seawright enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) bachelor’s in business with a concentration in organizational leadership and began learning the skills he needed to succeed in a modern workplace.
“By going back to school it put me in the know and on a level playing field with my peers,” he said. “It taught more about the business world, especially today’s business world.”
Seawright described himself as a timid and withdrawn person when he began his degree program. His education, and particularly a visit to SNHU’s Manchester, New Hampshire campus for a leadership conference, pushed him out of his comfort zone and showed him just how much he is capable of. Seawright attended the SNHU LEADS (Lead, Engage, Achieve, Discover, Succeed) conference in 2017. He was able to meet fellow students as well as SNHU faculty and staff members while attending a variety of workshops focused on leadership.
“And that’s what ultimately changed. I immediately made that connection, that emotional connection to the journey, like, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be,’” he said. “It completely pulled me out of my shell.”
Seawright said one of the most impactful things he learned studying organizational leadership was the importance both of a company’s mission and culture, but of finding his own role in that culture so he can better manage employees. The high-pressure tactics learned during his years in banking backfired in his retail management position. Now, with an understanding of organizational behavior and culture, he’s able to take a different tact, focus on empathizing with an employee and work toward better outcomes.
“You really have to take that moment to step back and engage,” Seawright said. “That’s really what I was missing: engaging. Without SNHU, I wouldn’t be the manager or leader I am today. It was definitely worth it.”
Achieving His Dreams
Seawright recently moved from his childhood home in New Jersey to take a management job in an Amazon facility in Connecticut where he oversees about 50 employees. He’s also building a base of clients for his human resources consulting business that he hopes to work on full-time in the next five years. This spring, he took a break from all of that to visit the SNHU campus once again – this time to celebrate the end of his journey with his family.
Among Seawright's supporters at SNHU's Commencement in May, he was joined by his father, mother and step-father. That made sense, he said, because each of them encouraged and motivated him in different ways.
“I think my degree impacts a little bit of everyone in my family,” he said. “Each individual gave me a specific set of encouraging words, and each time it gave me the strength I needed to push on. So it’s for my mom, both my dads, my brother, and my two little sisters and my nephew.”
Joe Cote is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Follow him on Twitter @JoeCo2323.