Mays Business School, March 16th, 2014
In 2008, A.J. Oben ’10 became the father of a newborn son. With his wife needing medication to help recover from a C-section, Oben was troubled by having to leave his new family to wait in line at a pharmacy. He thought there had to be a better alternative. Six years later, he is the president and CEO of GoldStar Pharmacy Group, a pharmacy with the distinctive service of home, office and hospital delivery.
Oben began his professional career at General Electric (GE) in 2003 after obtaining an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kansas. Always a problem solver, the native of Cameroon quickly rose through the ranks at GE, eventually leading a global Fulfilment & Productivity team that generated an additional $38 million in annual sales revenue and delivered $40 million in annual productivity savings. Despite his success, Oben realized that he would never be “given the keys to the business” if he didn’t understand business. In 2007, he began exploring MBA programs across the country in hopes of acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to advance his career. He selected the Full-Time MBA Program at Texas A&M University for several reasons, including high return on investment, strong career services, cost, the Aggie culture and available scholarship dollars.
After graduating into a declining job market in 2010, Oben once again proved his abilities and quickly achieved success with TD Bank Group; first as VP, Management Associate, Middle Market Commercial Lending and later as VP, Productivity, Strategy and Risk Leader – Deposit Operations. In addition to overseeing risk management, his team managed a department of 600 people along with an $80-million budget and five-year strategic plan. He credits much of his success to something he learned in the MBA program—the value of building relationships and unwavering integrity. “If you want to go fast, go alone,” he said. “If you want to go far, go with others.” He is guided by his faith in God, driven by his biggest role model (his Dad, James Oben) and motivated by his will to win.
Although he was in leadership positions with both GE and TD Bank Group, Oben had the desire to lead his own organization. With another promotion on the horizon, one that would require a minimum two-year commitment and relocation to the East Coast, Oben decided it was time to pursue his dream. Oben and his wife and business partner, Dr. Bessem Oben, and their two boys, J.P. (six years old) and Sean (three years old), decided to move back to College Station to start GoldStar Pharmacy. With key differentiators in cost, quality and service such as home delivery, onsite compounding of medications into alternative forms for consumption and application, and 15-minute prescription fill times, GoldStar strives to deliver one-stop shop convenience of pharmacy services for the whole family. Patients can see their doctor and go home while GoldStar delivers the meds, eliminating the extra stop and additional wait time. However, the company isn’t content to just serve College Station. Oben’s goal is to grow outside of College Station to include 10 pharmacies over the next decade. He knows that he will be able to recruit talent from the Mays Business School to help him continue to grow his company, just as he did when he was employed at TD Bank Group.
For Oben, GoldStar is not just a business venture, it’s a way for him make a difference in the lives of others and improve the health of the community. Whether it’s a lack of mobility or transportation that hinders patients from visiting a pharmacy, he wants to make sure that those in need of pharmaceuticals receive them. At times, he even delivers medications himself. Oben’s commitment to service doesn’t stop with his customers. As an alumnus of Mays, he is giving back to the program that he recognizes for so much of his success. Most recently, he engaged a group of Professional MBA students as a product champion for their Capstone Project. Oben recounted his MBA Capstone experience with Waste Management and cited two reasons why he wanted to engage current students. “I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn some of the real world lessons I learned from the Waste Management project,” he said, “but I also owe a lot to this program and wanted to give back.”
The Capstone Project will give the Mays Professional MBAs firsthand knowledge of how a new company operates, while providing GoldStar with actionable insights that will help the company grow. For Oben, it’s all about paying it forward, and that’s what makes him a GoldStar alumnus.