Mike Schroeder

Class of 2021

Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Undergraduate University: William & Mary
Class Year: 1989
Major/Minor: History
Employer: Prevailance Inc.
Position: Chief Financial Officer

Why did you pursue an MBA?

I few for 20 years in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2009. I joined a small defense contracting firm intending to be very involved with the business side of the operation. Over the years, I worked my way up from Program Manager to Director, then to a strategic planning position, and eventually became the CFO. Over eight to ten years, I learned a tremendous amount from on-the-job training, but I knew that I needed more. I needed to put some academic rigor behind what I was doing. Both our founding owners attended the Raymond A. Mason School of Business in 2014 and 2015, and being an alumnus, William & Mary, was a logical choice.

What were some highlights for you during the EMBA experience?

I would have to say that of the many highlights. Two stand out; my cohort and the professors. The Class of '21 possessed the most talented and intelligent group of people I had ever met. I would say that a good portion of my education experience came from the discussions, both in and out of class, group projects, and other interactions with my classmates. In addition, the professors were impressive in both their academic work and their active work with local and global businesses. They delivered top-quality instruction in engaging and bespoke ways.

How did you balance the program with your professional and personal responsibilities?

Continuously managing expectations at work with family and myself helped me get through the program. My work made it easy with their understanding and support. Our CEO and COO completed the Executive MBA several years back, so they understood the program's demands. They and others gave me the room to do what I needed at work. I certainly could not have done it without my family, particularly my wife. Continually communicated schedules and demands were crucial for managing expectations and limiting surprises. For myself, setting aside a plan to study and do schoolwork was vital. And then being disciplined in the following the schedule such that when it was time to be with the family, I knew that I had put the time into the school work and being present with them.

What value has the MBA had on your career?

I thought I had things pretty squared away. However, from the very beginning, the Executive MBA experience impacted how I now think about things from not just a finance, analytics, or accounting perspective but how to approach team organization and change management. The program gave me a framework to strategically apply these concepts to different situations in our company. The case studies and information we learned in class gave me some rigor in knowing how to back up an argument or make a convincing case for why we should pursue a specific course of action. I didn't realize how much that would influence my day-to-day work.



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