Leticia Foster earned her MBA from UNC Charlotte in 2012 and made a career shift from underwriting to marketing. During her time in the program, she participated in a Global Study program and travelled to Malaysia where she explored marketing and business topics with an international perspective. She has worked for Sealed Air Corporation for two years and has recently accepted a new role as Fulfillment Market Development Manager.
What led you to earn a graduate degree at UNC Charlotte?
Since my undergraduate studies at George Washington University, I’ve known that I wanted to further my education with an MBA degree. In my previous role, I traveled on numerous occasions to Charlotte since this was the location of our regional office. Over time I began to fall in love with Charlotte.
My previous role was an underwriter. At the time of hire, the underwriter was solely responsible for writing key proposals to align with our office’s business objective. However upon accepting the role, the company was in the middle of a merger. I found that I spent more of my time marketing the company to reassure agents the company’s brand and mission remained intact instead of underwriting. In addition, it was also during the time in which the government bailed AIG. So this was yet another situation in which I spent more of my time marketing than actually underwriting. With the combination of this and wanting to move to Charlotte, I looked into UNC Charlotte’s program. I found that UNC Charlotte’s MBA was progressive and aligned closely with my career goals and objectives. The program would allow me the flexibility to complete my degree at my own pace, and I liked the size and proximity to network with individuals in my respective field.
What was the best part of your Belk College experience?
Networking. Not just with my fellow classmates, but I truly enjoyed the opportunity to network with faculty and staff. I was new to the area and everyone was warm and receptive to me “picking” their brains not only on Charlotte but the business community dynamics as a “career switcher.”
The second best experience was my study abroad trip to Malaysia. This opportunity was priceless. The ability to study abroad not only enhances your cultural experience but also your perception of business in global markets. The rigor of the program really challenged my thinking to look at marketing beyond the American market from a product/service lens.
Even post graduation, networking is still key and critical. Having the opportunity to network with current students and to share my experience is priceless. I’m able to bestow the knowledge given to me to other undergrad and graduate students in familiar situations. The opportunity to participate in Graduate Business Association career and Women in Business events.
How has your degree helped you advance in your career?
After completing my degree, I started as an Associate Brand Manager at Lowes and was promoted to a Brand Manager role within 2 years. I was quickly able to leverage the principles learned in the courses in some of my case studies for work or strategy development sessions.
The MBA program is synonymous with group projects. Group projects prepare students to facilitate varied stakeholders to meet critical deadlines. Most importantly, being able to navigate teams and the in-class experience is my foundation to navigate cross functional product and platform development.
What lessons have you learned from your degree that you were able to apply on the job?
Group dynamics – Being cognizant of your stakeholders in a group setting in order to be successful on a project is so critical.
Leadership - As the Graduate Business Association president during this time, I was able to really put my leadership skills to the test. Being responsible for reviving an organization, I enhanced my interpersonal skills to help persuade my team and fellow members to achieve goals as well as enhanced my entrepreneurial skills to understand how to start a business from scratch.
Project Management - Quickly understanding what task to delegate and manage time and project expectations.
What did you learn in the Belk College that has best prepared you for your career?
One of my classes that prepared me best in my career was Operations Management with Dean Mazzola. The strategic approach throughout the class and the respective case studies have been the most impressionable on my career. I have be able to leverage the principles learned in this class in various strategy development sessions either to influence or enhance a business case.
What advice do you have for current Belk College students?
Network - I cannot stress the importance of networking with fellow colleagues and staff. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reach individuals in the area, profession, or industry of interest to facilitate your goals.
Time management - This is critical to graduate students and will be applicable as you continue in your professional areas of interest.
Ask questions - This is the time to ask questions and receive the answers necessary to support a project or clarify a problem. You won’t have this opportunity in the middle of meetings.
Listen- now is the time to not only ask questions but actively listen. Listen to hear the others response but also to understand. One would be surprised what one can learn from listening as oppose to responding.
Are you engaged in the business community outside of work? Which organization or activities?
Former Junior League member, Elizabeth Somer’s Mentor participant, North Star Mentor/Reading Buddy