Academic Rigor at D'Amore-McKim School of Business
Q: What is your current profession and what led you there?
A: I am the Manager of FP&A at WEX in Portland, Maine. I’ve always been interested in FP&A due to the fact it requires you to not only have a solid financial background, but also to understand the needs of the business and customers. I enjoy the role for the opportunity it allows to talk with people and stitch together how different decisions will impact both our customers and our financials.
Q: How did D’Amore-McKim prepare you for this career in the global business world?
A: I firmly believe the MBA program has had an instrumental impact on my career. I have learned over time that financial decisions cannot be made in a vacuum, and this knowledge was accelerated during my time in the MBA program. The MBA program gives you a well-rounded understanding of how one action will impact another—that full perspective is necessary when making financial decisions. Through a team-based approach, the MBA program has given me the perspective to make informed decisions and credence to present ideas to executive leadership and drive change in our organization.
Q: What skills did you learn from the D’Amore-McKim Part-Time program that have helped you in your career?
A: It really taught me how to effectively manage teams. Being involved in different groups and constantly interacting with other students has given me the perspective and the ability to manage better. It’s one of the skill sets I’ve gained, and I think that having these skills is a big reason I received a promotion at work.
Overall, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business does an excellent job of taking a lot of different parts of a business, aggregating them, and making you understand how it all works together so you gain the insight from marketing, corporate finance, or accounting. Having that broad sense of business skills is critical to understanding a whole business. It makes you an effective manager. I think companies are willing to make investments in people that have that insight.
Q: You mentioned that you’ve gained a better perspective. Can you explain a bit more?
A: Taking classes at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business really opened up doors to helping me understand the bigger picture. That’s what I was hoping for, to really understand how management thinks. What’s really incredible about the Part-Time MBA program is that you’re meeting with people that all have very different experiences from yourself. You work with them and talk with them on a regular basis. I’ve had classes with construction managers. I’ve had classes with a pharmacist.
It’s really helped in broadening my view of the bigger picture, because now I can take ideas from something someone said in class, and apply it directly at work in a way that I had not considered before.
Q: Was there one classroom experience in particular that had a big impact on you?
A: Yes, during an entrepreneurial finance class, we had a speaker from a venture capital company that invests in people looking to create their own technological hardware businesses. He had such a passion for his company. The way he presented it made me rethink what I was doing. I wanted to be as passionate as he is about something. I thought it was pretty cool that he was passionate about hardware, because it’s not something that most people get really excited about. But he had a real desire to help companies become successful selling hardware. He also made a couple of recommendations on different books, and I bought those and kind of structured my presentations around those insights.
Q: Were there other things from faculty members that really changed the way you thought?
A: During the classroom experiences, the professors really try to put you in uncomfortable situations. We had one professor replicate a changing environment in a VC pitch. During a group presentation, he said, “Okay, you present the first slide. You present the third slide. You present the second slide.” It threw a curve ball to everybody. It was a pretty profound experience. And it replicates the real world. You don’t go into a presentation only knowing one thing or one slide. You’re expected to know everything, and that’s something else I’ve taken away from the classroom and into my life. What will make me an effective leader is understanding all of the pieces.
Q: What was your main motivation when you decided to pursue the D’Amore-McKim Part-Time MBA?
A: The motivating factor to start an MBA was to advance my career. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to put myself in an uncomfortable situation. I knew that the Part-Time MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business offered the best opportunity for me to do that.
Q: What would you say to a prospective student considering D’Amore-McKim for their business degree?
A: There’s no replication for what the D’Amore-McKim business program offers—between the collaborative approach that’s so important in the working environment, to the highly insightful professors and speakers, to the engagement from the students who have a common goal of strengthening their understanding of business, there’s really no alternative. The relationships and experiences will be leveraged for years after graduation.