Success Stories

Earning an MBA from the Mason School of Business is a fantastic way to get ahead in today's job market. Meet some of our recent graduates, and learn how their experience both in the program and with our Career Management Center and Executive Partners helped them turn their aspirations into reality when they landed their dream job after graduation.

 Chloe Chapman '15
Chloe Chapman '15Director of Operations, Empower Generation
Chloe Chapman

Chloe Chapman '15

Director of Operations, Empower Generation

Chloe Chapman, MBA '15 from William & Mary, is following her passion of bringing sustainable energy to developing Asia with Empower Generation.

Why an MBA?
What is your background? How did your undergraduate and work experience help put you on the path toward an MBA?

Before pursuing my MBA, I majored in Psychology at Rutgers University because I was very interested in people and learning about their motivations and behavior. Upon graduating I worked in hospitality to continue to meet new, and interesting people, and traveled throughout Southeast Asia to satisfy my wanderlust before moving to NYC. It was there I was introduced to social entrepreneurship. I joined the Net Impact, NYC Professional Chapter, did a pro-bono consulting project through Service Corps, and worked in operations for a clean-technology workforce development start-up.

Why did you decide to go to Business School and pursue your MBA? What did you hope to get out fo the experience?

It was while working in my job that I began to understand that my lack of formal quantitative and technical training was holding me back from excelling in my work and that I could better contribute with a master's degree in business.

I hoped to learn how to create financial models using Excel, analyze data to make strategic decisions and learn best practices to apply in my future career. Also, because I had taken some time to decide my career path, I wanted the jumpstart that I had taken some time to decide my career path, I wanted the jumpstart that I had heard many others had achieved through pursuing their MBA. 

Choosing a School
When choosing a program, what did you look for? How did you arrive at your decision?

When choosing a program, the first thing I knew I wanted was for it to be small. My undergraduate school was so large, and one thing I wanted to experience was a closer bond with my teachers and more opportunity to participate in classroom discussions. Other selection factors were the price and location of the program. Lastly, I was drawn to the activities and opportunities available to students interested in social entrepreneurship. Before deciding on the program, I had spoken to a current student about their Net Impact program, the sustainability focus of the Operations course, and the social entrepreneurship conference the school held.

My advice for researching and choosing schools is to learn about what the school, current students and teachers value. These are going to be the people you are surrounded by and who you will be working with for the next two years, and later your alumni network when you are seeking a new position or career.

What extracurricular activities did you take part in on campus?

I took part in the Net Impact Club, as first a First Year Representative and then as President. That gave me an opportunity to give back to the community with energy audits and introductions to Kiva Zip, meet local social entrepreneurs, and hold a fundraiser in the form of a dodgeball tournament. Also, I performed in International Night in various cultural dances and worked as a Community Marketing Ambassador for Venture for America to recruit undergraduates for an entrepreneurial and city revitalizing fellowship program in U.S. cities.

What is the most interesting course you took during your MBA? Was there a specific subject that you thought you wouldn't enjoy that you ended up being passionate about?

The most interesting course was the Career Accelerator Module (CAM) in Entrepreneurship. It was taught by two very passionate professors that brought in their own experience and speakers to speak of their entrepreneurial successes and failures. Throughout this course we learned to design a business plan and pitch it to a room full of 'investors'.

Accounting was a class I really enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would, and I credit that to my professor. She was very passionate about the subject and her energy was infectious. We learned through hands-on exercises and prepared for exams with a healthy competition of jeopardy.

What resources and support did your school offer you through your career and internship search? Were there opportunities for creative, non-finance or consulting positions?

Mason career services waived the cost for a Job Seeker Premium LinkedIn account and offered a stipend to subsidize the cost for students to attend a Career Fair. The tickets, travel and lodging makes it an expensive venture, but the contacts and interview opportunities are very important to the career search. The school also hosted its own networking events to meet recruiters in various sectors. Because I was looking for a social entrepreneurship career, I went to the Net Impact Conference. This is a great opportunity to learn about open positions in companies and organizations you may never had before considered. Tapping into the alumni network is another great way to find opportunities in the field you are interested in.

Applying from Abroad
What were the challenges you faced applying internationally? How did you research programs from far away?

Because I applied from, South America, I depended on the information provided online and the responses from students, the admissions team, and alumni shared to my emailed questions. As I value human connections and communicating with individuals, my interest in certain programs increased when I received quick, honest, and insightful responses to my inquiries.

My advice is to define the goals for wanting to get an MBA, interacting with the school to find out if the program will help you achieve these goals, and get a feel for the culture of the school because you will be a part of that culture for the rest of your life, as it will be a large part of your professional network.

Advice for Applicants
How has your MBA influenced your career? What advice do you have for prospective students?

The MBA degree has very positively influenced my career. It as added credibility and skillsets to my resume that sets me apart as a serious business woman. My advice is to take classes that challenge you and may help make you more well-rounded in your future career. Also, make the most of your time to network, have fun and work hard.

How did you utilize the school's alumni network to pursue your chosen field?

I was introduced by the Career Center or would reach out via LinkedIn InMails. I did advanced searches with keywords of the department and sector I was interested in.

 Chaitra Garalpuri '12
Chaitra Garalpuri '12Strategic Sourcing Manager (IT), Gap Inc
Chaitra Garalapuri

Chaitra Garalpuri '12

Strategic Sourcing Manager (IT), Gap Inc

Chaitra Garalpuri, originally from Bangalore, India, discusses how she transitioned from engineering to business and highlights the impact her MBA class and faculty had in helping her adjust to life in a new country at William & Mary's Mason School of Business. She also explains the importance of utilizing your school's alumni network and career development programs to gain a deeper understanding of the industries and careers that interest you.

Student Life
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?

An MBA is a great way to provide breadth and depth to your experiences. For me, as an engineer, school had always been far more technical. In an MBA program, it is more about current events and how you can handle different situations. A lot of the learning happens through conversations with the faculty and students than with text books. You are treated as working professionals from day one and the program is designed in a similar way as well. There is almost always never a right or a wrong answer. It is about what risk you are willing to take and how you plan to mitigate the risk. If you are looking to widen your experiences, change careers, learn about several different aspects of what constitutes the functioning of an overall company, or looking for the next step in climbing the ladder in your current field, an MBA would be the right step for you.

What do you think is your program's greatest asset?

I think one of Mason School of Business's greatest assets is the kind of people they bring to the class. The program is designed to ensure diversity. One of the first things I noticed when placed in my study group was that each member came from a different background with varied experiences. Over time, the study group became my go-to network and support group. We hung out and studied together, did assignments together and even helped each other out in market research and other school work. Since we had such a diverse background, we exchanged different thoughts and ideas and helped each other grow. The class is a larger extension of the study group. Our class had people coming from a dozen different countries, with experience levels from fresh out of college to 10-12 years in various industries. When the class is so diverse, the conversations you have in and out of the classroom provide for multifaceted views and a kind of learning very difficult to find anywhere else.

Career
When it came time to look for jobs, did you find yourself interested in a new career that you hadn't considered before doing your MBA?

During the second year of my MBA, I found the job that I am in today. It was completely new to me and I had no idea what it entailed. It was not something that I had sought after, but I was willing to give it a try. After getting an offer, I wanted to learn more about the job itself so the company arranged for "a day in the shoes of" experience. They invited me to their campus and paired me up with a current manager whose role was very similar to what I would be doing. I spent the day shadowing him and learning some of the high-level aspects of what it would be like in the role. This gave me a clearer vision than I had during my interviews After I joined, the company put me on an MBA rotation program and gave me a 2-year period during which I was able to spend 6-8 months in various departments to gain deeper understanding of the kind of work being done. At the end, I was able to choose the department that I thought was a good fit for me and the company.

What resources and support did your school offer you through the career search? How did you highlight your personal and career achievements on your resume?

One of the highlights of the MBA program at Mason School of Business are the Executive Partners. These are men and women who have spent 20-30 years in the industry and now act as mentors to guide, help, and support current students. Each student group is assigned two mentors who are available for all meetings through the program. The mentors not only have immense knowledge of the industry, but they are also willing, and make themselves available, to help you at every step. Apart from this, our class had access to dozens of Executive Partners who were assigned to other groups or are not assigned to any group at all. You can look them up and reach out to the Partner who you think can help you the most. You will find that each and every Partner is very approachable and always willing to go above and beyond to help you. Being interested in the technology field, I reached out to a few Partners who had prior experience in technology. Along with my own mentors, I used the Executive Partners as sounding boards while working to build and enhance my resume. They provided an eye towards what the potential recruiters may be looking for, allowing me to best highlight my skills on my resume.

Abroad
What advice can you give to ease the transition to a new country?

Transiting into a new country is never easy. My suggestion is to plan early and be mentally prepared for the journey. The first couple of months will be hard as you look for a place to live, get a new cellphone, bank account, etc. These are just logistics which are a hassle and you will get over them. Once you have settled down, there are larger things, such as understanding the culture and traditions of the country and the people. Basics, such as the way we react or different mannerisms become alien to a foreign national. There are many days where I felt truly home sick and wondered if I would ever fit it. However, these are natural feelings for anyone during such a large transition. Sometimes, we are our own worst critics. Give yourself time and you will see that things start to get easier in the second year of school.

What resources did your MBA program have for international students?

The Mason School offers an International Orientation to help settle you in. Above and beyond that, it is the students and the faculty who have a great impact. With a large international population every year, the Mason School is empathetic to the large and difficult transition an international student has to go through. You will find yourself surrounded by very warm people who will do everything they can to make you feel welcomed and at home in your new town. The study group is a perfect example of this. The school ensures that there is a good mix of international and local students in each group. Because of this, my group was my strongest pillar of support. They helped me understand the new cultures, traditions and the new ways of doing things. All this accelerated my adaption curve, and I started feeling at home very soon. During class there are always discussions on how businesses and situations are handled in various countries and how things are seen differently by other cultures. This helps you gain a unique experience and understanding of the world.

Advice for Future Applicants
What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?

One of the things I wish I had known better is that talking to alumni will definitely help you gain a larger understanding of what to expect from the program and the school. Most schools offer similar programs and it becomes very hard as an applicant to distinguish one program from the other. It is in making these distinctions that the school's alumni can play a major role. As a confused applicant, I had a number of questions. Also, there is so much information available on the internet, it was hard for me to know who to trust. At this stage in my application process, if I had spoken to alumni, it would have provided me with at least some of the answers I was looking for.

Did you come from a non-business background? If so, how did you highlight your achievements and tell your story when applying?

I have my undergraduate degree in Engineering and worked in the technology field before my MBA. So, I came with no previous background in business. What worked for me in my application and interviews was explaining to the admissions team what I was looking to achieve with my MBA degree. What I found is that the admissions department at the Mason School of Business is very understanding and willing to listen. They listen to your expectations and suggests thoughtful ways to help you at every step. They were very willing to connect me with existing students and faculty so that I could get a clear vision of what the program had to offer. All this helped me make a more definitive decision to join the school.

 

 Lincoln Puffer '13
Lincoln Puffer '13CFO, United States Coast Guard's Fourteenth District
Lincoln Puffer

Lincoln Puffer '13

CFO, United States Coast Guard's Fourteenth District

Alumnus Lincoln Puffer discusses how to balance your personal life with the academic demands of an MBA from the Mason School of Business at William & Mary.

Student Life
What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?

The main activity I was involved with outside of class was my family. I am married and at the time of the MBA/MAcc program, our daughter was 1-3 years old. My wife was also in school full-time completing a rigorous program, so I was responsible for a fair amount of parental duties. While time-consuming, I attribute a great deal of my success to having breaks that forced me to put school on the backburner. These much-needed breaks helped me recharge my batteries and allowed me to better focus on school when I was in that mode. Aside from my family I was a member of the Honor Council, I played intramural sports (softball, basketball, and flag football), and I attended every school related activity I was able to attend. I balanced my time by planning and communicating. I was extremely busy during the program, but I wouldn't change a thing. I firmly believe everything I was involved in, outside of the required school activities, has given me the network I have today.

How much are you in touch with the alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections with companies? What did you learn about creating and utilizing networks during your MBA?

I'm constantly in touch with my network. Two examples: one of my former professors reached out to me three weeks ago to see if she could put a current student in touch with me, and I met up with classmates while on a business trip last week. I haven't needed to use my network to make connections with companies...yet. That being said, my network extensively spans the public, private, and non-profit sectors and every region of the US and several countries, and I'm sure the quality relationships I have with classmates/ friends from school will be a tremendous help in the future. Being back in school and learning about different industries and companies reinforced the importance of having a solid network. It hasn't felt like work to cultivate and strengthen my network. It seems to happen naturally. I enjoyed the experience of school with my cohort, so following their successes and staying in touch is just second nature.

Why an MBA?
Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?

I chose W&M because it is a great program with an extremely close-knit community. I went to a large undergrad university. I enjoyed that experience, but I wanted some diversity with a smaller school and a different type of environment. W&M is on the smaller side and the level of service and attention I received from the first time I contacted Admissions made my decision very easy. I left a message and heard back from Jill within hours. Not only that but the Admissions Team was extremely helpful in providing information for my wife's program when they weren't very responsive. The level of service and family atmosphere carried through the entire two-year program. My advice is to find a program with a great reputation, that places people in industries and careers where you would like to work, and is located in a place you would like to live.

What do you think is your program's greatest asset?

The people; from the faculty and staff of the school to the students, the relationships made during my two years in Williamsburg will be lifelong. These relationships are both personal and professional. The Admissions team did a great job bringing in a diverse group of very smart and talented students, and I was impressed experience outside of academia. Going to a smaller school allowed me to get to know mostly everyone in the program, and also allowed a lot of face time with our professors. Several years later, I still communicate on a regular basis with many of the students and a few of the professors and staff.

How has your cohort/classmates influenced your MBA experience?

I would like to think I'm more open-minded. Getting to know people from different industries, from different countries, and with different viewpoints forced me to think in ways I hadn't before. This new perspective has solidified certain viewpoints and changed others. I've learned a lot from my classmates, and looking at things through a different lens has helped tremendously.

Advice for future applicants
What is it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students returning for their MBA?

Transitioning back to school was surprisingly easy. Having 10+ years of work experience gave me the confidence I didn't have the last time I was in school. The material was challenging, but I found it to be very interesting and much more relevant. In undergrad everything was theoretical; at W&M I had real world experience under my belt that really brought the subjects to life. If you don't pay attention to current events (globally), start now. Also, go to school with an open mind and confident that what you bring to your program is valuable.

 Nicole Berner '16
Nicole Berner '16Automotive Lubricants Territory Manager at ExxonMobil
Nicole Berner

Nicole Berner '16

Automotive Lubricants Territory Manager at ExxonMobil

Nicole Berner discusses the importance of alumni networks, and explains the unique opportunity Mason's Executive Partners program provides for career growth and development.

Student Life

Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?

I was evaluating MBA programs based on the quality and competitiveness of the program as well as the environment. William & Mary has a top program that is very competitive with the best schools and companies but still provides a supportive environment. I feel the Mason School of Business has the best community and environment to setup any student for success. Upon speaking to the Admissions Director, Amanda Barth, about the program, I could tell that I would be evaluated on more than just grades, test scores, and work experience. William & Mary provides a supportive community and positive work environment. The Mason School of Business evaluates you beyond your resume and looks at your potential and how you can contribute to the school and society as a whole.

What do you think is your programs' greatest asset?

The Mason School of Business’s greatest asset is the Executive Partners program. This program is filled with numerous active and retired business executives from different fields, industries, and backgrounds. These partners are able to offer a wealth of knowledge, industry insight, and personal experience/mentoring to any student willing to take advantage of the program. I personally sought out many of the Executive Partners to learn more about their career path, background, and job experiences in order to learn more about job roles I would enjoy and to prepare for interviews. They were also able to provide leads and contacts in many companies to assist in the job search.

Career

When it came time to look for jobs, did you find yourself interested in a new career that you hadn't considered before doing your MBA?

Upon entering the MBA program, my mind was set on working for a big marketing company like Nike or Coca-Cola, especially with a focus on sports-related businesses. However, once I got into the classroom and started networking with Executive Partners and speaking with different companies at career conferences, I became more aware and open-minded about the opportunities other companies could offer me. I expanded my horizon from researching and exploring sports marketing companies to including manufacturing, hospitality, pharmaceutical, and energy companies.

How much are your in touch with the alumni network? Are they helpful in making connections with companies? What did you learn about creating and utilizing networks during your MBA?

You live or die by your network. I am very much a true believer that networking is one of the most important aspects of any job. William & Mary’s alumni network is vast and is a great way to tap into different companies and learn more about the corporate culture and evaluate whether it will be a good fit for you. Combined with the Executive Partners Program, William & Mary students have access to numerous resources for both personal development and job sourcing.

Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?

I interned at ExxonMobil while attending my MBA. I was unsure of what to expect from a Marketing internship with an oil company full of engineers. I was delighted to discover that all of my preconceived notions were inaccurate. My internship with ExxonMobil was full of collaboration from all levels of employees including executives. I enjoyed working on a team and being able to contribute and having my ideas heard on a project that was going to be implemented in a matter of months. I was able to learn firsthand how the role of Marketing evolves in a technical company and involves the different backgrounds of engineers, marketers, and other roles in order to come together and make a business successful. While I was there, I was also able to network with fellow William & Mary MBA alumni in different areas of the company and gain valuable insights. From these connections, I was able to foster a network of mentors and confidants that I know I can turn to for advice.

Advice for Future Applicants

If you had the chance to do your MBA program again, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

If I had the chance to do my MBA program again, I would challenge myself more by taking more classes outside of my Marketing concentration. During my Second Year, I specifically concentrated on taking all Marketing-related classes in order to gain as much experience and knowledge as I could. If given the opportunity to retake my MBA, I would have taken more Finance related classes to become more adept in fields that supplement Marketing roles and are vital to understanding business as a whole.

 Audrey Wobst Stanley '16
Audrey Wobst Stanley '16Strategy & Operations at Deloitte Consulting
Audrey Wobst

Audrey Wobst Stanley '16

Strategy & Operations at Deloitte Consulting

Audrey Wobst Stanley a Management Consultant and Deloitte shares her "dos and don'ts" with prospective students.

Student Life

What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?

Outside of the classroom, I was very involved the MBA Association through various leadership positions with clubs and the executive committee. In these roles I was responsible for organizing MBA and club-wide events and activities that would add value to the student experience. I also enjoyed serving as a Graduate Assistant, which allowed me to gain experience teaching and mentoring other students. Social events and intramural sports were always high on my priority list as well. Balancing time is always a challenge in an MBA Program. While coursework was important and provided me with strong foundational skills, I recognized that activities and events outside the classroom were just as crucial in terms of networking and career development. I did my best to say ‘yes’ to all value-add opportunities and events, and I believe that was a differentiator for me.

What do you think is your program's best asset?

The Mason School is fortunate enough to have an incredible and large group of Executive Partners (EPs) who are there to provide career guidance, coaching, and mentorship. Our EPs have had significant and successful careers in a wide range of industries, which nicely augments the MBA curriculum and program through a real world lens. Executive Partner SMEs consistently serve as judges in case competitions and classroom presentations. They serve on club panels, conduct mock interviews, and candidly provide feedback and advice when requested. This group of individuals played a large and important role in my MBA experience, and I believe the EP Program is the Mason School’s best asset.

Why an MBA?

Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice for students on how to make a decision?

I chose Mason for its sense of community. The culture at Mason is one of openness and togetherness – this was evident to me from the very beginning of my application process. The admissions team truly got to know me as an individual rather than as a combination of statistics. That attitude resonated throughout my Mason experience. When selecting a business school, ask yourself where you would feel most comfortable and at home, since you will be spending the vast majority of your next two years insides the school’s walls, surrounded by your classmates and program faculty and staff.

What were the biggest challenges of pursuing our MBA?

The biggest challenge I faced in pursuing my MBA was focusing my job search. I knew that I wanted to use an MBA to redirect my career, but when I first began I was very unsure as to which direction that would be. Yet, at the same time, I recognized the importance of starting my internship search and application process early. I ended up spreading myself thin by trying to apply to positions in many different industries and functions. Classwork, speakers, and Executive Partner conversations helped me to narrow my focus over time to consulting, but it was not an easy decision from the get-go.

Advice for future applicants

What are some do's and don'ts in the MBA preparation process?
  • Do study for the GMAT/GRE and do as well as possible. You may receive scholarships as a result.
  • Do give yourself a break before the program starts. The first year is intense, especially in the beginning.
  • Do start thinking about your job search and functions that interest you. Get the resume ready early. Make a list of companies you might be interested in.
  • Do push yourself outside your comfort zone. Your MBA experience may be your last opportunity to take risks and pursue challenges in a risk-free environment.
  • Don’t worry if you haven’t had previous business experience; you are not alone.
  • Don’t wait to apply to internships.
What is it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students for their MBA?

Transitioning back to school can be difficult. It will take a few weeks before you feel comfortable managing your time and workload, as with any new experience. My advice would be to not let your anxiety about school limit the scope of your MBA experience and development. There is much to be gained and learned outside the classroom through clubs, events, and activities. While grades are important, in the post-MBA world your boss is less likely to care about your exams scores as she is your ability to build relationships and lead your team.

 Amy Domiano '17
Amy Domiano '17Consultant at Deloitte LLC
Amy Domiano

Amy Domiano '17

Consultant at Deloitte LLC

Amy Domiano discusses the importance of alumni networks, and how the Career Services team helped her successfully convert an internship at Deloitte Consulting LLC into a post-grad career.

Student Life

What was your favorite classroom experience?

I was lucky enough to be one of 17 accepted students chosen to manage the Frank Batten Investment Fund. This class started in 1999 after a $500 endowment was donated by Mr. Frank Batten. The class of 2017 began with a value of $825 thousand and was able to grow the fund to over $1 million in one year! I loved this class experience because it was as real world as it gets. We were expected to research financial metrics, company changes, and overall strategy in order to find a stock worth investing in. We were also responsible for developing a pitch to present to fellow analysts, portfolio managers, and executive partners. The friendly peer pressure of the class held every student accountable for their research and presentation which created a competitive environment, perfect for growth! This class changed my entire perspective on what I want out of a career, and I hope to do equity research and investment management in the future!

How did your classmates influence your MBA experience?

Immensely! The MBA program is very unique because most of the time you are going to be with the same students, all of the time, for the 2 years. It can get overwhelming for sure! I think it is a great lesson in learning how to manage professional relationships and friendships in the same environment. It is certainly a unique environment because not only are you making friends that will last a lifetime, but also you are developing business ideas and having discussions with people who might be business partners one day. It is a great lesson in personal and professional development.

What were some activities that you were involved with outside of class?

I held a student government position as the External Vice President of the MBA Association at William and Mary. This allowed me to help in the management of student clubs and activities, but more importantly, it allowed me to work with other graduate programs at William and Mary and the Undergraduate Student Government Assembly. I loved this because it is very easy to get wrapped up in the MBA program and I believe that a break is important as you go through such a life changing experience. My External VP Position allowed for me to take that break to work on programs and discuss problems outside of the MBA program while also diversifying and growing my network!

Career

Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?

Yes, I interned with Deloitte Consulting LLC in Washington D.C. I loved the work that I was doing during that summer with Deloitte and I also loved how the firm and the people made me feel. At the end of the summer I was offered a full time position with the firm and I had to say yes! I knew that I wanted to continue that experience.

What resources did your school offer you through the career search?

Every Graduate Business student is assigned a career counselor and this person becomes your foundation as you work through your career search. William & Mary has an amazing database of past alumni that they have already worked with who are willing to talk to current students about their field and hold informational interviews. My program also had close knit relationships with employers (Deloitte was one of them) and this allowed me to develop connections with members of the firm before the recruitment process started. If it was not for the Career Services team I don’t know if I would be working for Deloitte!

Advice for Future Applicants

What is one thing you wish someone had told you before you started the MBA application process?

Every single program is different! Do not assume that every program is exactly the same. Make sure you take time to get to know as many people as possible who have experienced the program(s) you are looking at. You will be surprised at how helpful it will be in order for you to get a sense of the culture of the MBA program. I was lucky enough to meet a variety of current MBA students and staff before deciding to pursue an MBA at William & Mary.

Allison Abraka '14
Allison Abraka '14Compensation Program Manager for Microsoft

Allison Abraka '14

Compensation Program Manager for Microsoft

The W&M MBA: International by Nature:
Exploring Culture. Building Community.

Before my MBA, I was working as a human resources specialist in West Africa’s biggest bank. I worked with people from all over the world, but I figured if I wanted to broaden my horizons I needed to get an MBA, and I needed to get an MBA from the United States. I wanted to see firsthand how business happened there.

Actually, I wanted to know more than just how American business worked, I wanted to know how America worked, so I wanted to study in a historically rich part of the United States. And the more I studied Williamsburg, I thought, “Hey, this is it.” It wasn’t just academics, it was everything plus academics. And since part of my goal was to get enmeshed in a culture, I didn’t want 300 or 400 students in my class. I wanted a small program where I would be on a first name basis with everybody. Those two things, combined with the opportunity to get close to business leaders that the Executive Partners program offered, made William & Mary’s B-school a winner for me. 

I was selected College’s International Scholar Program, which pairs you with an American family who introduces you to the culture. My family took me to dinner. They took me to the movies. If I just wanted to visit for a couple of hours, I could stop by. And 40 percent of my classmates were international students. There was always something going on. Music. Food. Movies. We had Thai night. Indian night. For most international students, I don’t think we missed our homes too much.

I think another secret to my success was that I quickly jumped into many clubs. I found the experience so rewarding—you develop so many connections with your classmates through the clubs—that I started one of my own: The Human Resources Club. The goal of the club was to educate Mason students about human resources and encourage more of them to enter the field. The other goal was to connect those students with career opportunities. We also had speakers come to campus to talk to us about the field. I was also involved in the Honor Council, which is a huge part of the William & Mary community. It’s as old as the school. Our job was to make sure students were living within the values of William & Mary. In my second year, I was elected Chief Justice.

Today I’m a compensation project manager at Microsoft. Our team manages everything related to compensation. It’s a big job, as Microsoft has offices in more than 100 countries. Microsoft wants to attract the best talent no matter what country they’re operating in, so we study the employment markets in each country and make recommendations to the individual offices to ensure their compensation packages are competitive. I’m one of two managers on Microsoft’s Total Rewards program, which is an online resource that allows employees to manage all of their benefits. It’s a convenience for the employees, and it really gives them a sense of just how much Microsoft is investing in them. We’re piloting the program in 16 countries and hope to roll it out to more soon.

Bridget Gilmore '10
Bridget Gilmore '10HR Business Partner at Google

Bridget Gilmore '10

HR Business Partner at Google

The W&M MBA: Thorough. Supportive. Global.:
From HR generalist to three recruiting offers from Google.

When I graduated with an English degree in 2003, I swore I’d never work in an office. But when I realized that reading books wasn’t going to pay the rent, I landed a human resources gig at a local bank and eventually moved on to T. Rowe Price. As I learned the fundamentals of HR, I realized I liked it enough to want to pursue it as a career. I also saw that the most successful HR professionals were the ones who understood how the business worked. As understanding how business worked was not part of the undergraduate English curriculum at Dickinson—my alma mater—I decided I needed to get an MBA.

I am a firm believer in the liberal arts—it was a big change for me to be seeking a professional degree—so a school that was based in the liberal arts was important. I was also expecting to struggle with things like finance and accounting, so I wanted a teaching-focused business school where the faculty would be accessible. And because I’d worked as part of a global team at T. Rowe Price and wanted to continue that connection after I’d earned my MBA, it was important to attend a business school with an international student body and a global mindset. William & Mary’s B-school met all my criteria. 

The Executive Partner program was very influential in my career choices. I remember I had an internship offer with the Human Resources Development Program at Johnson & Johnson. I was thrilled to have the offer, but I was conflicted about taking it because I was beginning to think I might pursue consulting instead. My EP talked me through the pros and cons. He didn’t try persuade me either way, but he knew me pretty well, and answering his questions reminded me how much I loved HR, so I took the internship, and from that J&J offered me a job. 

I loved my role at J&J. It’s one of the most honest and genuine companies, remaining true to its belief that the customer should be at the center of all decisions. I turned recruiting overtures from Google down twice, but when they called for the third time, I had to say yes. The transition has been wild. I went from a 125-year-old company to 16-year-old company. And from an HR perspective, Google is shaping the modern employee experience. Their innovations extend beyond technology to the employer/employee relationship and how work gets done. It couldn’t be more exciting. Mason gave me the tools to be a different kind of business partner. Unlike folks with an HR or organizational psychology degree, I can understand the business side of things. It helps me synthesize what’s important to my clients and what’s important to the business. That makes me a very effective professional and gives me tons of credibility.

Brittany Scopa '10
Brittany Scopa '10Director of Gwaltney and Regional Brands at Smithfield Foods

Brittany Scopa '10

Director of Gwaltney and Regional Brands at Smithfield Foods

The W&M MBA: Cultivating Decision Makers:
Growing from communicator to decision maker.

I spent the early part of my career working in communications and marketing, especially in public relations, and it was hard for me to escape the reality that communications plays mostly a supporting role in business. Decisions get made regarding a product or the direction of the company, and it’s your job to communicate those decisions. It’s an important role, and there’s certainly a strategic component to it, but I always felt that I was outside the room waiting for the decision to be made. I wanted to be inside the room. I wanted to be making the decisions. That meant building my skill set with an MBA.

I had gone to small schools as an undergraduate—Franklin in Lugano, Switzerland, and then Whitman back here in the States—and I liked that environment because of how involved you could be . . . because of how involved you had to be. If you wanted a school newspaper, you had to write the paper. So I wanted an MBA program where I’d be an active and valued participant, with an emphasis on “valued.” For instance, I was accepted to a very prestigious program at another school. And while I was very pleased to get in—it’s a great program with great rankings and great facilities—they never seemed as excited to have me there as I was in going there. I remember calling them several times to discuss financial aid information, and when someone finally called me back, they just gave me the URL to the financial aid section of their website. At W&M, it was easy to reach people. I felt they were trying to help me rather than just move me along, which made me feel like the experience itself would be more personal and more adaptive to my goals and ambitions.

My W&M experience was directly responsible for my current job. I my second year I took the Consumer Marketing CAM. A CAM—or Career Acceleration Module—is an eight-week immersion in a particular area of business. Our CAM was a live case study with Smithfield Foods. Our challenge was to grow business for Smithfield’s Gwaltney bologna line. We used all the skills we learned in our first year Data Analysis class to dig into the sales data that Smithfield provided. We even conducted our own consumer research. Then we developed a set of packaging changes, advertising ideas, and other recommendations. Based on my performance, Smithfield asked me to come in for an interview, then offered me a job. 

I started at Smithfield as a data category manager, taking the syndicated data the Smithfield gets using it to make better business decisions. I did that for a year before moving to a brand management position in bacon brand. Then I was asked to manage the Gwaltney brand. Now I’m directing it. I’m in the room now. I’m the decision maker.

The biggest thing W&M did for me was give me the confidence to work with executive management. Because the program is small, you get to interact with professors, Executive Partners, and guest speakers, so you get the experience of having executive level conversations, whether they take place in a meeting, a presentation, or you run into a VP in the elevator.

Dan Walker '13
Dan Walker '13Principal Process Manager at Capital One

Dan Walker '13

Principal Process Manager at Capital One

The W&M MBA: an MBA built on quality people.:
Forward thinking faculty, capable classmates.

The thing that impressed me most about W&M’s B-school was the people. Some of my classmates were recent college grads, most of them from William & Mary or schools of a similar caliber, so they definitely had brains and a point of view. The rest had been working for five or so years. The mix of experience and interests made for some fantastic classroom discussions. But I think it was the military folks who made the biggest impression on me. One of my teammates was an Army officer, and he never let anything rattle him, even if it intimidated him internally. It was like you could solve any problem if you just broke it down into small enough pieces and rallied the team to put it back together—which is kind of business problem solving in a nutshell. So I deliberately tried to model his behavior when I did my internship at Newport Shipbuilder. Going in, I knew nothing about the business and I had people asking me to do things I had never done before. I approached the challenge one step at a time and tried to project a can-do attitude. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of the program.

The faculty were similarly impressive: top notch business minds, all of them, and great at finding ways to tie the course material to what was going on in the day’s business and economic news. It would even turn up in the tests, so you not only needed to understand your cases and what was going on in the classroom, you needed to know what was going on in the world. Those were some of the hardest tests I’d ever taken.

But the faculty did more than just challenge us. They really wanted to guide us. My marketing professor especially really pushed me to pursue job opportunities that had the maximum potential for growth. That’s how I wound up with Capital One. I had an offer from Lumber Liquidators, which, as a smaller, up-and-coming company, was a more immediately comfortable fit. But Capital One has a reputation for grooming people and moving them around so they can build their experience and understanding of the business. So now I’m a Principal Process Manager on the credit card side of the company, and I haven’t looked back.

David D'Cruz '14
David D'Cruz '14Project Manager at Morgan Stanley

David D'Cruz '14

Project Manager at Morgan Stanley

W&M: The perfect MBA learning environment:
Learning the importance of teamwork

Before coming to W&M, I was working as a software developer for Oracle in India. My primary project—a payment processing system for Barclays—gave me a lot of exposure to accounting and payment processing and a pretty good understanding about what the banks do on the back end, but it made me curious about the broader business impact of the work I was doing.

Once I started researching what would add more value to my personal and professional development, an MBA was the obvious next step. I already had sound technical skills. What I needed was leadership and communication skills, as well as a more comprehensive strategic understanding of the overall business. My long term goal was to do more strategic planning for technology and to get more involved in product development.

My primary concern was finding a place that had the perfect blend of academic rigor and commitment to the development of its students. William & Mary was that place. Its faculty is among the highest ranked in the nation, and its commitment to students was apparent from the first conversation I had with the admission office. And when I talked to other people in my network, they validated everything W&M was telling me.

The team-based structure is a very effective way to learn because it mirrors the way problem-solving happens in the real world. The entire first-year class is broken into 5-person teams, and about 60 percent of the coursework is team-based, so you work with your team to meet your deliverables. I came from a technology background, another person came from finance, another from telecommunications. We also had a Major General James Wright MBA. We met twice a week and became pretty good friends. The second year—when you know all of your classmates—you have the flexibility to pull together your own teams for group assignments. Working with my team taught me a lot about leadership and big-picture thinking. As a technical guy, my tendency is to approach things from the tactical level. The team got me out of that habit and helped me become more strategic.

I truly believe that strategic thinking and clear communication—skills I honed working with my team at W&M—are the reason I’m at Morgan Stanley now. They offered me a job as soon as I finished my internship with them. Technology is the backbone of the finance industry and Morgan Stanley works with some very cutting edge technology. My technical experience came from my past, but the way I lead projects—working in complex environments, identifying people who can help you, rallying those people around the cause—came from W&M.

Jessica Misse '14
Jessica Misse '14Financial Analyst at Intel

Jessica Misse '14

Financial Analyst at Intel

Mason: A Place for Entrepreneurs:
Growing Beyond the Family Business

When I was in college, my family started a business shipping raw paper to a company in Cameroon that made FedEx boxes. I handled the contracts and letters of credit, figuring things out as I went along. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and I wondered what tools I would need to really do it well. An MBA seemed the best way to become a more well-informed entrepreneur. I’d already done the thousand-seat-lecture-hall thing as an undergraduate, so I wanted something smaller. The Mason School’s size and the mentoring support provided by the Executive Partners made William & Mary a perfect fit.

If your experience—and your preconceptions—are like mine, you’ll take classes like Organizational Behavior and think, “oh, this is the soft stuff.” And then you’ll get into a consulting experience and realize all that you learned in OB was how you get things done. Some of my classmates and I learned that on a trip to Indonesia. Our project? Figuring out how to market Cialis® in a conservative country. Talk about a challenge! And the listening and consensus-building skills we had learned in the classroom were invaluable—both in establishing a working relationship with our Indonesian colleagues and in understanding the needs and sensitivities of our target market. I realized employers are really looking for those kinds of team-based problem-solving skills.

I think the most valuable thing I learned at W&M was how to analyze business issues from different perspectives. Some of that came from the breadth of the curriculum, but a lot of it came from the diversity of experience my classmates brought to the table. My team included two international students and a military veteran. But W&M is small enough that you get to know and work with almost everybody. So we learned from each other’s experience and saw things through each other’s eyes. I’m in a rotation program at Intel now—a new job every 18 months—and I’m constantly thinking, “how would so-and-so approach this problem?” And if I’m not sure, sometimes I’ll just call them. I’m sure I’ll be using the same technique when I start my own business.

 Rachel Verbout '12
Rachel Verbout '12Brand Management Analyst at VF Corporation

Rachel Verbout '12

Brand Management Analyst at VF Corporation

An MBA for changing plans:
Forging a path from accounting to apparel.

I went to Paris for a mini-gap year and rediscovered my passion for fashion and retail. And while an MBA wasn't the typical avenue into the fashion industry, given where I was coming from, it seemed the best way path, and maximized my options in the process.

William & Mary was the ideal place for me. The small classes and the Executive Partner program ensured that I would have plenty of support, and the diversity really appealed to me, especially the percentage of other women in the class.

My Executive Partner, Bob Quarter, had a huge impact on my MBA experience. On paper, we didn't have much in common. He was a retired Air Force Major General. I was an aspiring fashion maven. One of the first things he had me do—and he would have me redo it periodically—was explain why I wanted an MBA and why I wanted to go into fashion and retail. That constant honing of my ambitions and my rationale for my ambitions kept me focused throughout the program and proved invaluable in interviews.

Bob connected me with another of the other EPs who worked with me to land an internship with Tracy Reese, the luxury women’s wear designer in New York. She designs for Michelle Obama and sells at Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. It was fantastic. It was a small company so I got to explore several areas of the business. I worked with their sales representatives. I worked in their retail store. I went to trade shows. I even worked with the controller so I could see the finance and accounting side of the things. It really validated my decision to go into fashion and retail and showed me the value I could bring with an MBA. It also helped me pinpoint where I wanted to go after graduation, which was the merchant/analyst side of the business. And it was just fun. Work should be fun, in my opinion.

Now I'm a brand management analyst—kind of an internal branding consultant—at VF Corporation. VF has more than 30 brands that operate globally. Every new project is like reliving the second year of my W&M MBA. I travel around the world to the brands and stores and evaluate their processes—everything from supply chain to their social media marketing. I love it because I get to wear so many hats. It’s constantly fresh and new.

What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?

The William & Mary MBA program has numerous social and professional groups. I was the President of the MBA Social Committee, responsible for planning on campus-activities as well as outings for my classmates. Throughout my two years I also participated in events with the professional groups, attending on-campus speakers and visiting local businesses. I felt it was easy to balance my time because all my activities, whether academic or social, ultimately supported my goal of building relationships and preparing for a successful career.

What do you think is your program's greatest asset?

The greatest asset of the William & Mary MBA program is the support network: the academic and career staff, program coordinators, Executive Partners, and alumni. From day one of the program you are welcomed into this group of peers and mentors who want nothing more than to see you succeed.

How did you fund your MBA? Can you offer any advice to students looking to fund their MBA?

I used loans to finance my MBA, like most students. For me it was the only option, as I did not want to work and attend a part-time MBA program. It is a big decision to take on years of debt, but your career advancement after graduation makes you realize the burden is short lived.

Why did you choose your MBA program? Do you have advice to students on how to make a decision?

I chose the William & Mary MBA program because it was the best fit. That sounds like a generic answer, but choosing the right MBA program comes down to your goals and personality. All the top programs are very similar academically, both in the class structure and offerings. The best program is different for each person. I had a few must haves: small class size, East Coast, strong career services, and a mentorship program, to name a few. Ultimately I made my decision because of the admissions team

Louise Suen '12
Louise Suen '12Brand Marketing Manager at Nike

Louise Suen '12

Brand Marketing Manager at Nike

The W&M MBA's fast track to brand marketing:
A business path from Hong Kong to Nike

I wanted to get an MBA so I could get into brand management. I had been working in Hong Kong in the fashion retail industry, and while I enjoyed talking to customers, I was more interested in marketing and managing the whole brand.

One thing that made W&M stand out from the other schools I considered was its concentration in Brand Management. That I could combine the concentration with internships to make my MBA a brand management degree was very attractive. There just aren’t a lot of other options like that. I was also very intrigued by the Executive Partners program. The fact that I could talk to and be coached by real executives and benefit from their experiences seemed very unique and advanced.

The other thing I really appreciated about Mason was how well they integrate international students into the William & Mary community. When I arrived, there was a seminar for international students to get us oriented to the basics of American culture. And when they break the first year class into 5-person teams, they try to make sure that every team includes two international students, so you’re never the only one. There’s also an International Student Association that schedules a lot of cultural exchange events—Diwali Night,, Japanese Cherry Blossom celebration,  —things like that. Anybody, local or international, who wanted to cook or sing or perform in some way could get involved. I joined the Association in my first year and became president my second year. And it’s not just about “oh, lets hang out tonight and eat Thai food.” There’s a very business-relevant value to learning how to present yourself and integrate with other people and work cross-culturally. So it’s fun with a purpose. 

The Executive Partners were a big reason I landed at Nike. The Nike “interview” was a long, tough process. You have to do a project based on a topic they give you, and then you present your project to a Nike executive. My project was to develop a maternity line for women’s training apparel. Rick Spatz, an EP who works with the Brand Management concentration, helped me figure out have to approach the project—What’s the data? What’s the strategy? How do we market it? Both Rick and Paul McManus, who was my assigned EP and worked with me on my leadership skills throughout the program—critiqued endless versions of my presentation. Working with them really boosted my confidence.

As a brand marketing manager at Nike, I have my dream job. This is why I went to business school. I work on our “Off Court” line of non-performance products. It’s actually the biggest part of the business—what you wear when you’re done with your workout or game. In my role, I touch on all facets of brand management—media teams, digital marketing, store display, talking to retailers. My primary task is to ensure that our marketing efforts are effective and align properly with the global brand. 

 Maybelline Mendoza '14
Maybelline Mendoza '14Business Leadership Associate at Coca-Cola

Maybelline Mendoza '14

Business Leadership Associate at Coca-Cola

A Mason MBA targets your career goals:
Pepsico becomes a stepping stone to Coke.

My biggest concern when I was evaluating MBA programs was making sure I was going to get some kind of mentorship. I wanted experienced leaders guiding me. I also wanted to make sure I'd be challenged in the areas that I wasn't already strong in—I knew marketing, so I wanted to be pushed in finance and accounting. I was also looking for a place where I'd have plenty of mentorship opportunities, which made Williamsburg itself one of the attractions of William & Mary. There's a pretty big community of retired and semi-retired executives living in the area. That, combined with the Executive Partner (EP) program, made me pretty confident I'd find the network and the guidance I was looking for.

Rick Spatz is head of the Executive Partner program, and I think he epitomizes what makes that program special. He used to work at Publicis, the global advertising giant based in France. He's very experienced and very supportive, but also very blunt. He'll recognize great effort, but he'll definitely call out a poor one. He knew what I could do, and he made sure I lived up to it.

Spatz co-teaches a business to consumer marketing class with Professor Olver. It's a hands on class, and we worked directly with Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer. We had to do a brand and category analysis of a hot dog brand that Smithfield owns to help them decide if they should expand into a new market. The analysis technique we used was very data-driven. That has really helped me out at Coke, my current employer, because they use the same analysis technique for its brands.

The funny thing about me landing at Coke is that Pepsi helped me get in the door. As a William & Mary NSHMBA (National Society of Hispanic MBA) Scholar, I was invited to participate in a marketing challenge sponsored by Pepsico. Pepsi was using a smart vending machine that would interact with your phone. Our challenge was to develop ways to monetize that interaction. So I pulled together a culturally diverse team that together had the right combination of IT, finance, and marketing experience to tackle the job. Of the 21 teams participating, ours was one of three to make it to the final round. We went on to win the competition and were invited to present our recommendations to the Pepsico board. They were so impressed they invited us back for a second presentation. Between the two, I got called for a second interview at Coke. I was honest with them about the Pepsico competition, and rather than holding it against me, they were thrilled.

Now I'm part of Coke's Business Leadership Program. Every six months for two years I get rotated to another position with the goal of developing the skill set of a general manager. It's the only program at Coke that's cross-disciplinary and international—it's a lot like W&M in that way. It's a fairly new program and I’m one of only five people in program. They keep it small to ensure all the participants have good positions—again, kind of like W&M. And everyone from the inaugural class is now in a director position.

Student Life

What are some activities you were involved with outside of class? How did you balance your time?

I was mainly involved with Net Impact. I was a first-year representative and the Vice President my second year. I organized activities for our class to raise awareness on issues like clean water sourcing around the world and thoughtful discussions on topics like social enterprise models and what it means to be a B-Corporation. I also spent time as a student advisor for the Career Team and was an active member of NSHMBA, the National Society of Hispanic MBA, a non-profit group.

I balanced my time by spending more time in my weak subject matter areas (thank you, Fernando, for being the most amazing graduate assistant), and just catching the big themes in functional areas I grasped better, whether it was due to prior experiences or simply having a better aptitude for it. A semester in, it was obvious I couldn’t absorb every theory, but it wasn’t necessary.

How has your cohort/classmates influenced your MBA experience?

All around. From a strengthened sense of adaptability and flexibility due to the cultural diversity my cohort had, to long-term friendships I now hold dear, like that with my friend Allison, who’s an HR genius. Earning your MBA is a demanding and challenging time, but like most things in life, people make it better.

Career

When did you decide you wanted to pursue an MBA? What inspired you?

I’d been considering it for a while, almost since undergraduate graduation, it was always in the plan. I didn’t actually put pen to paper though until years later when I started thinking about my long-term potential career path with and without an MBA. Before this, it was more around building my brain on strategic frameworks. When the time seemed right, however, my reasons were more practical. Things from then on went by pretty swiftly. My apartment lease in New York would be up in six months so I sent out applications, packed everything up and chose to move back to Virginia.

Did you do an internship during your MBA? How did that experience influence your education and career?

I worked at an NGO, RARE, in Arlington, VA the summer between my first and second years. It was an empowering and enlightening experience I’d never trade. I managed their annual global conservancy contest, called “Solution Search”. My role called for wearing multiple hats, from acting PR communications chair to steward the contest announcement to relevant groups and organizations around the world, to social media lead, to keeping the conversation and excitement going once the contest was live and the applications were coming in. I enjoyed both late night calls I had with applicants in Africa via Skype and the collaboration my manager Katie and I had throughout the entire process. It taught me the vigor and passion organizations like RARE have and increased my inclination for corporate social responsibility. Ultimately, I accepted an offer with Coca-Cola after reading their sustainability report and contributions to communities. While at surface-level very different than my internship experience, both RARE and Coca-Cola collaborate with field experts and partners to promote change and both understand the value of how scale creates a larger net impact. Now in the Coca-Cola system, I am a member of the “Planet Team” part of the Millennial Voices’ corporate groups.

Advice for future applicants

If you had the chance to do your MBA program again, would you do anything differently? If so, what and why?

I’d plan earlier. I was very career-focused and worked long days before earning my MBA. I still work hard but I balance the workload better. If I would have planned earlier, I could have applied to scholarships like the Consortium to reduce costs and to expand my MBA network, before even starting! I’d also take a few more trips with my cohort mates. Many were international students and traveled during school breaks. If I were to relive my experience, I’d catch up with them for a few of the trips, even if it were to places I’ve already been to.

What is it like to transition back to school after being out for a few years? What advice can you offer students returning for their MBA?

It was like night and day for me. A lot of that, though, had to do with the major city differences between Brooklyn, NY and Williamsburg, VA, then school itself. Regarding the classroom setting, however, I remember it taking me a few weeks to get my footing, as I was used to meetings, virtual and live training, anything but sitting in a classroom for an extended period of time. Teamwork was also pretty different as we were assigned project teams that would be year-long the first year. At work, this was true for the core team, but we’d have cross-functional partners that would change depending on the project scope. For incoming MBA candidates, I’d suggest meeting your teammates for coffee before the start of class for soft introductions and to get a sense of working styles. This core team will be important inside and outside the classroom. For the physical transition itself and to reset routines, I’d suggest getting to know your new city and starting a balanced regimen as soon as possible. In my prior life, I wouldn’t have done this at all. Now that I’ve lived in multiple cities and am completing a short-term assignment outside the US, I’d say the best way to have a fast start is to recalibrate and plan a daily practice that works well for you.

Walter Coleman '12
Walter Coleman '12Health Care Consulting Manager at DHG Healthcare

Walter Coleman '12

Health Care Consulting Manager at DHG Healthcare

The W&M MBA: Ambition Meets Discovery:
When your first ideas leads to unexpected opportunities.

Before my MBA, I was Sales & Marketing Director for a Venture Capital firm called Hi-Tech Solutions. It was a small firm based out of a country house outside of Richmond, Virginia. I helped grow our market share from 30 percent to 90 percent, and along the way I taught myself valuation and analysis. I liked it, and I wanted to go further with it. I wanted to get my foot in the finance door with a big company in New York. I realized that to do that, I needed a more formal set of tools. I’d gone as far as self-schooling was going to take me. What I didn’t realize was that my W&M MBA would open my eyes to an entirely different opportunity.

It was important to me to go to a school with a good name and a good reputation, particularly on the eastern seaboard. I also wanted a place that, in part because of that reputation, had a track record of success in placing its graduates in growth positions. William & Mary has always been a great school. Mason has always been a great school. But they weren’t resting on their laurels. There was great energy there when I visited. They’re constantly fine-tuning the program. They had just opened a new building. Even thought it’s a very old and very established institution, I felt like I was getting in on the ground floor of an exciting new venture. Mason was taking itself to a new level, and I wanted to be part of that.

I loved the international perspective, both in terms of the student body and the focus of the curriculum. I loved how hands-on the learning was—particularly the Field Consultancies and the Career Acceleration Modules. But the experience that really transformed me was in the Batten Fund—a half-million dollar investment fund run by a group of 15 to 20 students. Participation is competitive. A guy in our group pitched a catheter company. Not very sexy, right? But I realized nobody was doing anything with that sector of the economy. Everybody still wanted to go to Wall Street. But the more I started digging into health care, the more attractive it looked. It’s not like the need for health care is ever going to go away, but the Affordable Care Act had recently been signed, so how health care was likely to be delivered was going to change a lot, and with change comes opportunity. So health care offered both the job security and the excitement and growth potential I was looking for.

I started my new career with Bon Secours Health System, a non-profit Catholic health system, immediately after graduation. The system got most of its revenue from reimbursements from insurance and Medicare and Medicaid. Working with the CFO, I developed a scoring system that allowed Bon Secours hospitals to forecast reimbursement rates so they could do their budgeting and strategic planning more accurately. The model was so successful that Dixon Hughes Goodman hired us away to help them prepare their health care clients for the changes to payment models that are coming down the pike. I’m doing a lot of good, having a lot of fun, and making a great, secure living in a business I never would have considered—all because I went to W&M’s B-school to get into finance.

Chris Haynes '12
Chris Haynes '12Senior Strategy Analyst at CarMax

Chris Haynes '12

Senior Strategy Analyst at CarMax

"Sharpen My Skills":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

W&M helped sharpen my analytic skills while introducing me to an outstanding network of peers, mentors and prospective employers

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

Rik and many other Executive Partners heavily influenced, and continue to influence, my development as a professional, and I believe that much of my success is due to their help and guidance.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

I owe my current opportunity to W&M in more than one way.  W&M's reputation as an excellent school and the education I received allowed me many opportunities, and my current career actually came as a recommendation from a member of the W&M network (and a classmate of mine).

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success?

Career Management Center helped me build the habit patterns that are so necessary for the marathon that is applying for your dream career.  By having that voice in the background reminding me to keep at it, I was able to land my dream job.

 Corey Evert '12
Corey Evert '12Financial Analyst at Walton International Group

Corey Evert '12

Financial Analyst at Walton International Group

"A Role in Private Equity":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

The experience at William & Mary gave me exposure to a breadth of current international business issues, and the technical skill set I needed to transition into a Real Estate Private Equity role upon graduation.

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

Connections made with several Executive Partners helped me determine my post-MBA career path. They advise students to best implement some of the theories from classroom discussion.  I really enjoy hard work, but putting in 60 to 80 hour weeks for years at a firm that was in the middle of the financial crisis had me burnt-out when I enrolled in 2010.  EPs Charlie Raphael and Rik Rikkola not only assisted me to develop a thought process for work-life balance, but also leveraged their professional experience in the Financial Services Industry to help me find a role I am truly happy with.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

Growing up in rural Ohio and attending undergraduate studies at a large state school, I had minimal exposure to the nuances of doing business globally prior to my MBA.  In my two years at William & Mary I went from never traveling outside of the U.S. and Canada, to taking a study abroad course in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.  In my current role, I have co-workers based around the globe. Some of my best friends I made in graduate school are from India, Japan and Turkey.

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success? 

Career Management Center added value as a resource to help develop my job search strategy and operated as a feedback loop during both summer internship interviews and full-time interviews.  The Career Management team continued to assist me after graduation, leading me to an exciting role with a rapidly growing firm.

Brittney Mitchell '11
Brittney Mitchell '11Global Food Service Associate Marketing Manager at Pepsico

Brittney Mitchell '11

Global Food Service Associate Marketing Manager at Pepsico

The W&M MBA: Engagement Matters:
Building consumer excitement and community engagement. 

The thing that really excites me is figuring out what excites the customer. There’s a psychology and a science to it. Everything from product and package design to positioning and marketing fascinates me. And while I got a lot of exposure to that consumer marketing puzzle as an undergraduate—I’d completed six, yes, six, internships by the time I’d earned my bachelor’s degree—I wanted an even stronger foundation before entering the working world. For me, that meant getting an MBA. 

As an MBA customer looking to be excited, I had a lot of things on my wish list. The biggest thing was that I wanted plenty of hands-on experience. While I got some hands-on experience during my internships, how much I got was really dependent on my supervisor. So I wanted a curriculum that actively combined classroom and case study work with real projects and real clients. William & Mary, through its Career Acceleration Modules and Field Consultancies, offered exactly that kind of learning. And since marketing is all about building relationships, I wanted a place that was small yet energetic enough that I could know people and get involved.

W&M offered plenty of opportunities to get involved, and I jumped at the chance. In my first year I became class representative to the MBA Association, which is the student government body. I became president in my second year. One of the big things I worked on was helping the student and staff feel more connected.

Now I’m at Pepsico and loving it. I love living in New York. I love the corporate feel. And I love how they take care of their employees. They constantly challenge us to better ourselves. We have regular check-ins with our supervisors, and senior executives meet to discuss your strengths and where they think you should move within the company. I work on the “Global Away from Home” part of the business—basically Pepsico’s quick-server restaurants—KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut. Sometimes marketing and promotional ideas work in one country or region of a country but not another. My team’s job is to come up with ideas that have a more global appeal. We sell ideas to KFC Global, who in turn has to sell them to their regional managers and franchisees. 

 Eshwar Mysore '11
Eshwar Mysore '11Associate at BlackRock

Eshwar Mysore '11

Associate at BlackRock

"A True Challenge":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

I believe the Mason School of Business MBA program helped me in my overall personality development and not just in building my career. Some of the courses I took during the program like Business Ethics challenged me to think independently and taught me to broaden my perspective while making decisions.

From a career standpoint, going through a rigorous program like ours taught me the importance of focusing on results and effective time management. In addition to these attributes, developing a structured thought process and being organized have been of tremendous value in being productive at work. 

More importantly, the W&M experience transformed the way I thought about my career. Having a good career is not about making a living but more about creating a positive impact!

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

The coaching relationship where an Executive Partner (EP) provides personal attention and guidance throughout the program is unique to the W&M MBA program. While the value of their guidance changes per student and EP, the program provides plenty of opportunities to learn from these seasoned professionals. In my case, the coaching relationship was of great help.

My coach provided insights about developing leadership skills and his strong guidance challenged me to perform better every time. I am a kind of person who learns well from people and spending time with my coach taught me how to prioritize tasks and focus on results.

The Executive Partner Network is a great resource as well. To me MBA was an exploratory journey. The EP Network gave me access to experienced individuals from various industries ranging from consulting to operations. Speaking to them helped me understand which career suits me best and also gave a peek into how experienced professionals think. I was able to use this information during my job interview which helped.

Overall, my experience with my coach and the EPs was rewarding and helped me develop a mature thought process.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

The value of a global MBA community comes from diversity. Today, businesses are expanding globally in order to be successful. Naturally, the team environment in a global organization is bound to be multicultural. Learning about different cultures as part of the MBA program was a humbling experience. It gave an opportunity to learn and be sensitive to what an individual values. This has helped me forge strong relationships within my organization where I constantly interact with cross functional teams across the globe. Building relationships facilitates team building and helps identify synergies in order to be productive.

Also, being part of the global MBA community challenged me to articulate my thoughts to a diverse audience. This has enabled me to build on my soft skills and communicate more effectively.

How did W&M career services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success? 

I believe the role of any career services is two fold — one, preparing the students for a job search by providing them the necessary guidance, tools and resources. Two, act as a liaison between the industry and the school and help connect the two by highlighting the value its students bring to business/organization. Career Management Center is aimed at achieving the first objective and was designed keeping students in mind. Job searching is time consuming but necessary. The idea behind Career Management Center is to tackle this task in a planned and structured manner in order to be successful. It provides a toolkit to students to do so with a guided approach by leveraging simple technology. It prepares an individual for job search right from researching about a company to nailing a job interview. It teaches an approach to follow not just during Business School but for the rest of their active career going forward.

Career Management Center went a long way during my job search especially in maintaining a database of my contacts and building relationships (by sending timely follow ups). It helped me plan ahead  before setting up informational/mock interviews and also reflect upon what I learned after the conclusion of the interview. This really helped during my actual interviews and enabled me to clearly articulate the value I would bring to the position and the organization. Career Management Center uses simple technology to help push through job search and stay focused. It is important to note that technology is just an enabler and so is Career Management Center. How we make use of it is what matters.

 Jennifer Roberts '12
Jennifer Roberts '12Business Development Manager at Riverside Health System

Jennifer Roberts '12

Business Development Manager at Riverside Health System

"Creating New Business":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

The Mason School of Business MBA experience was critical in getting me where I am today.  As far as the skill sets that I built, the breadth of the first year classes allowed me to build a strong base that would be applicable and relevant in a number of different fields.  The second year CAMs then allowed me to dig deeper into areas that interested me and apply my first year learning.  I took both the Entrepreneurship and the Consulting CAMs, both of which have been extremely impactful.  In my role, my primary project is to create a new business for the health system.  During the EntrepreneurshipCAM, not only did we explore the various aspects of entrepreneurship, but we also had the opportunity to prepare and pitch a business plan to Executive Partners, who provided us with their constructive feedback.  That experience not only gave me the skills I need now, but also the confidence to argue my position with key players at Riverside.  Additionally, the secondary part of my job is to work on shorter-term special projects with specific divisions, so the background with consulting helps me to dive into unknown situations and quickly determine what is going on and how I can help.  That being said, perhaps the most apparent application of my W&M MBA is that my current employer was my field consultancy client.  They recruited me and hired me directly because of the work I did for them through the program.

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

This was really a tremendous part of my experience.  My Executive Partner worked with me through both years of the program and the relationship and trust we built enabled us to have real discussions about what worked for him, what didn’t, and how that might apply to my future.  It wasn’t just about career advice though, he helped me ask some hard questions about what I really wanted from my career and what was important to me.  We have stayed in contact after graduation and he continues to be respected and valuable resource for me.

Overall, my experience with my coach and the EPs was rewarding and helped me develop a mature thought process.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

The global focus of the MBA program has increased my openness and sensitivity to all types of diversity, not just cultural differences.  Being exposed to so many different backgrounds and ideas, encourages you to question your preconceived notions and look for answers outside of your own perspective.

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success? 

The W&M Career Management Center team was very helpful in connecting me to executive partners that helped me hone my career search skills.  They are also valuable in their availability to serve as a sounding board and resource.

 Kyle Matis '11
Kyle Matis '11Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP

Kyle Matis '11

Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP

"Consulting is a Team Sport":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

The W&M MBA has provided me with a 360-degree perspective on the world of business.  The core curriculum and specialized course offerings have given me the tools to identify and address a variety of business challenges.  This is an invaluable skillset for the consulting industry and has allowed me to deliver exceptional service to my clients.

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

The Executive Partner Network provided me with targeted, on-demand, feedback throughout my Mason experience.  From presentation advice to interviewing tips, their real-world expertise provided an excellent resource to help round out my Mason education.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

Consulting is a “team sport”.  Often times I am dropped into globally diverse teams and asked to deliver quality results under tight deadlines.  Mason’s diversity and teamwork-focused curriculum allowed me to hone my skills as a leader enabling me to work more effectively with colleagues from all over the world.

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success? 

Career Management Center was an invaluable resource as I transitioned out of the MBA program and back into the working world.  Their staff helped arrange on-campus interviews with top companies and provided preparatory resources to increase my chances of success.  Following my job offer, they provided educational support to ensure I hit the ground running at Deloitte.

 Laura Allen '12
Laura Allen '12Consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP

Laura Allen '12

Consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP

"Relationships":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

The W&M MBA experience gave me the opportunity to not only develop the critical thinking and financial skills needed to be successful in the business community, but it also gave me the opportunity to learn in a close knit community that fostered the relationships I built with my peers, professors and Executive Partners. By being part of a small business class of less than 100 students, I was able to get to know my Professors and peers on a personal level, whether it was stopping by a professor’s office to discuss our previous class, or attend a small dinner with my fellow classmates at their house. In addition, the emphasis on successfully completing assignments as a team greatly prepared me for life as a consultant. In my current position, each day is dominated by the demands of my client and the necessity of working with my teammates to deliver tailored and high quality solutions. By working with my teammates on a variety of assignments, ranging from accounting cases to regression deliverables, I developed the skills to work with others to reach a consensus and successfully deliver on any type of assignment. 

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

The Executive Partner Program was one of the most valuable and impactful components of my MBA experience. The Executive Partner Program was one of the reasons that I chose W&M over some of my other business school options, and the Program surpassed all of my expectations. The Executive Partner Program gave me the opportunity to work one-on-one with EPs to develop my leadership skills, identify potential career opportunities, and effectively navigate life transitions to and from business school. Many of my EP relationships developed into life-long friendships, and the coaching and mentoring has continued well beyond my time at William & Mary.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

At W&M, diversity, innovative thinking, and new perspectives are the building blocks to personal and professional growth. With almost 30% of my classmates from outside of the Unites States, the global business community was always at the forefront of every class discussion and student event. Throughout the year, the entire W&M community would participate in numerous international student led events, such as Diwali, Chinese New Year, and International Night. These experiences helped students, such as me, experience W&M through the lenses of our international classmates and develop another frame of reference when confronted with business issues in and out of the classroom.

These relationships with my international peers have also extended beyond Mason. Our current class of W&M business school alumni has established a monthly dinner in Washington, D.C. so that we may continue to connect with each other and learn about our experiences post business school. Many of my international peers attend these dinners and continue to bring new perspectives around the careers they have launched after William and Mary. 

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you achieve success? 

Career Management Center  provided me with the resources and tools I needed to successfully pursue a career in consulting and make a career switch from the banking industry. One of the most valuable services that Career Management sponsored was the “Communicating Cases with Confidence” program, a program that was devoted to helping students refine their case interviewing skills, which are critical to launching a career in the Consulting industry. I firmly believe that my consulting career success began with this program – preparing me for multiple case interviews and eventually various consulting career options.

The program gave students the opportunity to learn case interviewing skills, participate in individual and group case mock interviews, and network with other W&M alumni who currently work in the consulting field. After help from the Career Management program, I was able to approach the rigorous case interviews awaiting me during the job search with confidence. Career Management Center offered the traditional resume and career searching services, but it was the one-on-one attention of the Career Counselors and their personal commitment to match students with the career that was the best fit for them that made them an invaluable resource during my time at Mason.

Sukrit Sehgal '12
Sukrit Sehgal '12Director, Sustainability and Recoveries at Quality Technology Services

Sukrit Sehgal '12

Director, Sustainability and Recoveries at Quality Technology Services

"Becoming an Asset":
How has the W&M MBA experience enhanced your career overall?

The W&M MBA develops your personality on several fronts.  It provided me with the essential technical skills in Finance, Accounting and Marketing expected of a top MBA program.  At the same time, it provided me a unique opportunity to hone my leadership skills through the MBAA Executive Board.  I believe that the technical skills and leadership abilities make Mason graduates assets to any organization as generalists rather than specialists.

How did the Executive Partner Network coaching relationship shape your Mason School experience/career?

Interacting with Executive Partners gave me a glimpse into the mindset of executive leadership at the very start of the program. The network also helps to learn from others’ experiences.  When I was at crossroads in terms of a career path, the advice that I received also helped me choose an optimal career path.

What effect has being a part of the global MBA community had on your professional development?

The W&M MBA program emulates the real business world. You end up interacting with classmates who are the very best in their respective fields, and from different cultural and academic backgrounds.  This helped me appreciate the variety of skills people bring to the table and we drew on each others’ strengths.  The program’s global immersion module is also unique in that it provides global exposure, which is quite necessary to thrive in today’s globalized workplace.

How did W&M Career Services ("Career Management Center") prepare you to achieve success?

Career Management Center was my go to guide throughout the MBA.  The Career Management Center team knows the pulse of the industry and provides invaluable advice.  I really appreciate that they were always available; be it mock interview sessions (sometimes a couple of hours before a grilling case interview with a consulting firm) or helping me sharpen my resume.  It’s feels very reassuring to have that kind of support.