Otto “Toby” Gambrel
Executive MBA ’19
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, CO
Job Title: Center Manager at FlightSafety International
Pre-Daniels Experience: I have worked at FlightSafety International for more than 17 years. Prior to that, I flew Gulfstream corporate jets for a Fortune 500 company with world-wide operations. Lastly, I started out in the U.S. Army where I was a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot for over 10 years deploying to various locations throughout the world.
Hobbies: Hiking 14ers, skiing working out, wine tasting, Tough Mudders and traveling
What advice do you have for prospective students?
Same thing an EMBA graduate told me, “There always a reason to put off education, just do it now”.
Tell us about an “Ah-hah” moment where you put to use what you learned in the classroom.
For me it was on the sailing trip when my skipper kept telling me to “go into neutral before shifting gears”. I thought WOW this applies to everything, not just sailing.
What are some of your favorite things to do in or around Denver?
I like being close to the mountains. The world-class skiing and hiking are easy day trips. I also enjoy sports, so I love going to the Rockies and Avalanche games. The craft brewery scene is very nice as well.
Why did you choose Daniels for your graduate degree?
I turned 50 this year and was at a point in my life where I was craving education. Also, I met a few Executive MBA (EMBA) graduates and they really impressed on me the quality of the program.
What were you looking for in a business school?
I wanted to fill in the areas where I felt weak as a leader. Accounting and finance stuck out as two areas I felt I had the most to learn.
How did you get to know your classmates?
The EMBA sailing trip was a big help as we spent four intense days together in San Diego. At night after all official classwork was completed, we enjoyed beverages and laughed about our adventures. And, everyone my cohort likes to go out for a drink after class, which has brought us closer together and we talk about the day’s events.
What has surprised you the most about business school?
I thought I would come to class, hear a lecture and go home to write papers. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I’ve formed friends, and how enjoyable the study groups have become. We are all from different fields and walks of life, but really have jelled because we are all working on the same mission. Pretty cool!
Is there a particular class or experience at Daniels that really stands out?
So far, it’s been the EMBA leadership courses. I’ve had a lot of leadership training in the military and as a civilian, and I’ve been surprised how much I take back to my office to use daily.