Hometown: Richmond, VA
Undergraduate University: Georgia Institute of Technology
Class Year: 2011
Major/Minor: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Employer: WestRock Company
Position: Commercialization Lead
Why did you pursue an MBA?
Both of my parents have MBAs, so it was something I was interested in pursuing because I saw how their careers were shaped by the degree. I think it's a powerful combination when you understand the technical and business sides of a challenge. Most of my early professional roles were very technical and engineering-focused. I knew if I wanted to build a career where I was considered credible in being able to run a business, I needed to be able to not only articulate technical concepts but tie them to our business strategy when making key decisions.
Why William & Mary?
I went to a meet-and-greet with some EMBA alumni, and they shared how their experiences transformed their lives and what they were able to accomplish in their respective careers. I liked the 18-month format, and it aligned with my personal and professional goals. William & Mary, as a whole, is a reputable institution, and the faculty is excellent. I came to Williamsburg for an Experience Day, and I liked the smaller size of the cohort because I feel it makes a difference in feeling like you can learn from other people's experiences.
How did you apply what you were learning in the classroom to your work?
Around the time I started the EMBA program, I was pulled into a strategic project management role at my company. I was sitting in conversations with the top leaders in our organization, and I was able to understand the activities taking place in our organization and why certain strategic decisions were made in real time because of the information I was exposed to in the program.
What value did the in-person aspect of the program have on your overall EMBA experience?
There's a huge benefit to being in person because a lot of learning happens during those "in-between" moments, whether that's in class or at the hotel. Our cohort became fast friends. There's nothing that compares to the build-off of conversation within the classroom. You get to see people's facial expressions, and we laughed a lot. You're also able to stay after class and talk with the professors about the coursework or even about challenges you're facing at work.
What impact did the MBA degree have on your career?
My company is a multi-billion-dollar organization, and I am the Commercialization Lead for one of our four business segments. It's a role you wouldn't typically expect an engineer to naturally slot into, but I think part of the reason I was considered and recommended for it was because I had just wrapped up the MBA program. I'm more well-rounded because of this degree from both a technical and a business perspective, and I was able to demonstrate that I could evaluate projects and whether they made financial sense for our organization. William & Mary's Executive MBA is something that has instant credibility in the community I work in. The program helped me earn this significant promotion, and I feel I am set up for success as I move throughout my career from this point onwards.