What degree are you pursuing and why?
I am pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Innovation and Growth Strategies because I view innovation as the breath of life for organizations. To truly stay relevant in today’s market place with non-traditional competitors and disruptors - organizations need to continuously evolve their practices and offerings at much faster speeds than before. I want to help organizations lead and get ahead of the changes they need to make to stay relevant in their field.
Why did you choose the Belk College of Business over others?
The two primary reasons for my decision were the engaging and approachable teaching staff of the instructors and the proximity of the campus to my office and home. Majority of the staff do their own consulting and they bring that into the classroom, truly shaping classroom experiences around solving common business challenges versus merely repeating theories and principles.
What lessons have you learned in your courses that you were able to apply on the job?
I am currently helping my organization shape the way that our teams operate. Majority of our technology teams have or are transitioning from a waterfall to an agile delivery methodology. With that, I play a supporting role in change management across the organization, serve as a core team member in a scrum master function for three of our teams, and coach our organization through maturity by developing and assessing key performance measures across the teams.
I have been able to use something from every single one of my courses thus far in my role. We used a lot of the organization management in helping define measures of team health and were able to use some of the concepts in organization design to help shape our team culture. We are currently leveraging some of the forecasting methods learned in Operations Management to help our teams better estimate what we can deliver. I love that I am able to solve some of my day-to-day work challenges in my classrooms.
What activities are you involved in when not working/studying?
I am a part of our employee engagement committee at work where I enjoy driving out our efforts for diversity and inclusion, being a part of a large culture change, and bridging the gap between where the organization is and where its top talent wants it to be. I also spend a lot of time with my family as it is their love and patience that support me on this lifelong journey of becoming. Other than that, I do not have much spare time.
What has been the best part of your academic experience so far?
I tend to find the greatest value in those experiences that don’t go as well as I would like because it is in those challenging experiences that I believe true character is shown and relationships are built. We had an unexpected death in our family and which left me over capacity with work, family, and school. I addressed it as quickly as I could through some of the standard communication channels (and as often happens, much was left to be desired through my communication) and got a response that was process-centric, which had never been my experience with the program up until that point.
When I addressed it with the staff and my professor, they made it a priority to discuss it with me, sincerely apologized, and offered any support that I needed. While I didn’t need additional support, the sincerity in the genuine apology, the concern for my family, and their willingness to be open to my feedback was impressive and comforting. It really put the students and the staff on the same playing field, on the same team, at the same table, which rarely happens.
How would you describe the Belk College of Business to someone considering a master’s program?
It is like a family here. Everyone works to see everyone succeed. The coursework is structured that way, the interactions demonstrate behaviors that facilitate that, and it is a place to be real with real people. It is a place that truly understands the many dynamics of diversity and truly supports diverse lifestyles, thought processes, and cultures among other things. They build their programs to supporting the working professional with a family, the single working professional, full-time students, individuals with other commitments, people spanning the generations. It is a place for everyone.
How valuable do you feel this degree will be to your career?
I think it will be highly valuable especially being that it is already providing tremendous value in the work that I am doing today. It’s not a degree that I have to wait until completion to begin using and that makes it more valuable than most.