Q: What is your current profession and what led you there?
A:I work at Slalom—one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For—where I’m a technical architect specializing in designing and implementing CRM solutions for clients in the Boston area. I was recruited to join Slalom in 2013, while I was serving as CTO for Granite State College, a position made possible in part because of my qualification as a student in the Part-Time MBA program.
Q: What were you looking to gain from the D’Amore-McKim Part-Time MBA program? How has it changed you?
A: The primary skills I wanted to develop and nurture were really around project management, leadership, and business acumen. Through my course work specializing in entrepreneurship and international business, I was able to develop those skills a great deal. Compared to the old me, I’d say that I can analyze business scenarios very quickly, drawing upon experience not only from team projects, but also from case studies. I’m also better at communicating results to my stakeholders, clients, and managers. That’s really helped my career in a lot of ways, making me visibly stand out compared to my peers.
Q: The professors are deeply networked into lots of interesting companies. Many of them are working in the field. Did that prove to be valuable?
A: Absolutely. I took a social entrepreneurship course, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that was a life-changing class for me. It truly shaped the way that I view the world, guiding how I look at businesses and understanding where opportunities are in underserved markets. The course was made possible through the professional network of the professor, who was able to bring together insightful guest speakers. They each brought knowledge from a lot of different industries, a lot of different practices, spanning over forty years of change in the sector.
Q: Is first-hand experience a big part of the program?
A: One of the benefits of the Part-Time MBA program is that the vast majority of students are working professionals. They’re in sales, marketing, customer service, product development, you name it. The perspectives that they bring to the table from their different roles in their organizations make the classroom experience very rich.
So, without real world experience, it doesn’t make sense. Plus, because we’re working professionals, it doesn’t make sense to treat us like we’re classroom students with no experience. The professors know this and expect us to leverage our professional experience and then apply it back to real world scenarios. That is another opportunity for us to cross industries, cross disciplines, and do something real and meaningful.
Q: Tell us about the work-life balance. How did that impact you?
A: There are two parts to work-life balance. The first is understanding your time commitment. The second is understanding your flexible options. Here, all of your class schedules are outlined clearly. You have an expectation for the number of hours outside of class that you’re doing homework or project work. You’re maybe on campus once per week, which I believe is manageable for a lot of real world schedules. Outside of that, you communicate via email, Google docs, Blackboard, as well as a variety of other tools that are available. Plus, the professors are tremendously understanding. They know that we are all working professionals. I’ve needed to take business trips, or be absent due to work or personal reasons. Professors never made an issue out of it. Thanks to the flexibility of the program, I’ve never felt that school was impossible to manage.
Q: Did you participate in any student clubs, such as 360 Huntington Fund, or IDEA? If so, could you please tell us about your experience and how it added value for you??
A:The Husky Startup Challenge was an amazing experience, created by students for students, which equipped participants for entrepreneurship from the ground up in a series of Saturday workshops throughout a single semester. I placed second in the competition, and the practical experience of refining an idea, doing market research, pitching the idea and staffing a booth at an expo truly brought all of the academic studies down to earth in a tangible way.
Q: What would say to a prospective student considering D’Amore-McKim for their business degree?
A: You can get an MBA from anywhere you want. Don’t come to D’Amore-McKim if all you want is a degree. Come to D’Amore-McKim to engage in real, experiential learning, to connect with fascinating individuals across a broad range of industries, to build your personal brand and to push your own limits for professional growth. And definitely make time for the extracurriculars!