Defining the Path to Success

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For Jason Vitug, Norwich University’s online MBA program was the perfect fit.

“When I started looking for MBA programs I had a friend who had enrolled in one of the first MBA classes at Norwich,” says Vitug, a 2007 MBA graduate. “I looked into it and it definitely fit my schedule. I was working full time, the structure was perfect in terms of flexibility as well as the courses. I also knew of the program’s reputation. I didn’t want to do an online MBA program that didn’t have a strong traditional foundation or a physical presence.”

A Rutgers University alumnus, Vitug was working as a regional  for Affinity Federal Credit Union in his home state of New Jersey. When the credit union approved specific online courses as part of tuition reimbursement, he decided the Norwich MBA program was “definitely a go” and he became the first Affinity employee to complete an online graduate program.

“I structured my classes and the strategy sessions on improving the organization of ...  Affinity Federal Credit Union,” says Vitug. “Every single course I took, whether it was marketing or IT, I focused on a business process or a department with Affinity Federal Credit Union and applied what I was learning as I progressed through the program.”

In tandem with his capstone project, Vitug created a reorganization plan for the credit union.

“I created a high-level executive plan to revamp the entire business process. All those pieces that I was learning through the MBA program—marketing, IT, business operations, organizational management—I took all those pieces as I worked through the program and I turned it into one cohesive document that I presented to the [executive leadership],” he says. “It was well received and I had the opportunity to present it, go through the financials in more detail, and that was the basis for a reorganization within the credit union.”

After completing his degree, Vitug was recruited to join the executive team of a Silicon Valley credit union as vice president of marketing. In just over three years there, he helped move the company from being a $65 million regional branch into a $120 million national virtual financial institution.

“After three and a half years as vice president of marketing for a credit union in Silicon Valley I was spent; I wanted to take a break and figure out what my next career move would be,” says Vitug.

That “break” became a backpacking odyssey to visiting 20 countries in 12 months in North and Central America, western Europe, and Southeast Asia.

Concurrent with his work in Silicon Valley, Vitug became an avid promoter of financial literacy, giving lectures nationwide on financial motivation and capability. (In 2010, a member of President George W. Bush's Council on Financial Literacy singled him out for praise.) In early 2013, Vitug combined his passion for financial literacy with his extensive knowledge of social media and co-founded Phroogal, a crowd-sourced site on financial information designed to help people share knowledge, discover new tools, and collaborate with money-savvy peers and experts.

“I’m looking at the first phase of Phroogal, getting the first 100,000 users to join, and it’s a community based platform, and we’re looking at allowing people to do social collaboration when it comes to discovering financial information, financial resources and tools,” says Vitug, who now lives in Elizabeth, N.J. “The more users, the more robust the system becomes, and so the big first milestone is the 100,000 users mark. We have about 10,000 so far.”

Vitug says that when Phroogal first reached 3,000 users within a short period of time a lot of other tech startups started asking what he was doing, especially since Phroogal doesn’t offer a product.

“It was primarily based upon social media. We really pushed out the idea of collaborating,” says Vitug. “Money is a taboo subject; no one talks about it, but we learn our money habits through our friends, family, and co-workers. That premise of allowing people to collaborate online really resonated with folks.”

His long-term goal is to turn Phroogal into a lifestyle brand like Virgin, which “is associated with a fun and unique experience.”

“I’m looking at branding Phroogal as ‘Living life rich with money savvyness,’” says Vitug. “It’s not about curtailing you living [your] life; it’s figuring the resources to help you live [your] life.”