Hometown: Bristol, VA
Undergraduate University: University of Mary Washington
Class Year: 2013
Major/Minor: Political Science and Government; International Affairs
Employer: Virginia Economic Development Partnership
Position: Managing Director, Technologies & Services
Why did you go back to school to earn an MBA?
I always knew I wanted to get a graduate degree. It was a matter of figuring out the best fit and the right time. The decision to pursue an MBA as the "best fit" stemmed from my role as an economic developer for Virginia. In this role, I attract new companies and investments into the state and help existing companies grow. I work with company executives every day as they're making pivotal decisions for their organizations, such as if and where to locate new facilities or offices. Through the MBA program, I've gained immeasurably beneficial insight into how executives make these decisions and what internal and external factors are important to their deliberation.
Describe some of the highlights for you during your time in the program.
I've really appreciated the flexibility of the program. Living and working full-time in Richmond, I was initially concerned commuting to Newport News twice a week might become a logistical burden; however, it's proven to not be nearly as challenging as I anticipated. The professors are top-notch and approachable. We've had some who were pure academics and others who have been in the industry for several years and want to share their knowledge with the next generation of business leaders. I've also enjoyed the different webinars and events the Mason School hosts, especially those related to women in leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion. These webinars and events typically include our Executive Partners who bring valuable experience to the table—they've been there, done that. If not for the program, I wouldn't have access to that type of expertise.
What effect has the program had on your approach to your professional work?
I now approach my work in a more informed and balanced manner. Instead of focusing on my objectives when approaching an economic development project, I'm able to put myself in the shoes of the corporate executives with whom I'm working to better understand where they're coming from and the mindset behind the questions they're asking as we work to secure a mutually beneficial project. I am able to anticipate the risks and develop a business case to mitigate those risks, effectively communicating why Virginia is the best place for them to do business. In short, by approaching projects with a better understanding of and an added focus on company objectives, I am, in turn, better positioned to achieve my goals.
How did your classmates contribute to your learning experience?
In my first semester, I took Organizational Behavior, and it was interesting to hear from classmates across the spectrum, from private industry to other state employees to federal employees. As we shared the different aspects of organizational culture and teamwork, we realized everyone is dealing with the same challenges and opportunities at a macro level. It was reassuring to know that if I'm facing a particular challenge with my team or a client, someone else is facing the same challenge. We were able to discuss it and share best practices. Everyone in the program is here for the right reasons. We're looking to grow professionally and ensure we're being the best business leaders we can be. Despite coming from different backgrounds, we know we are here to make the future of the business world a better place.
What impact did the PTMBA experience have on your career?
I'm in my third year of the program and have been fortunate enough to be promoted twice since I started working towards my MBA. These professional growth opportunities are a result of the skills and experience I gained through the program. Each class I've taken throughout the MBA progression has been directly applicable to whatever economic development project I was working on at the time and enhanced my ability to make more informed decisions as I work to attract new business throughout the Commonwealth.