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About Me

Hometown: Oakland, CA
Current Position: Alliances and Channels Manager, Oracle
Previous University: Washington State
Undergraduate Degree: Comparative American Cultures
Q: Where has your career taken you since you got your MBA degree at Northeastern?

A: I have more than 25 years of experience, including several years managing global sales teams. I started my career working for smaller tech companies in the late ‘90s, and through a series of corporate acquisitions, I landed at Oracle. My current title is Alliances and Channels Manager—I work with Oracle partners who are selling my product, MySQL, to drive new business.

Q: What first motivated you to pursue your MBA in international business?

A: Oracle is a multinational company. I had landed a great job as a manager, but I also felt distinctly that there was a ceiling—that I could only reach so high without more education. My manager at the time had gotten his MBA, and watching his rise in the organization, I decided that was what I wanted to do as well.

Once I let the company know my plans, they opened up opportunities for me to take on more of an international business role, overseeing teams of sales reps in India, Romania, and Argentina as well as here in the United States.

Q: Women are often underrepresented in the tech industry. Did that feel like a barrier for you personally?

A: It was a real concern. Early on, when my company was still Sun Microsystems, I had a supportive mentor internally, but he was male. I looked around and didn’t see any women in our organization in positions of leadership. I did see lots of men getting promoted and getting hired away by other tech companies. But I didn’t see a path forward for myself until I got my MBA. It gave me confidence and credibility—and I’ve been promoted three times since. And these days, we do have a lot of women in upper management at Oracle.

Q: What stands out to you about your MBA experience at Northeastern?

A: I earned my MBA online, and it was important to me to do that at a school with a strong reputation for its on-campus programs—that’s a big reason I chose Northeastern. After I joined the program, I was amazed at the level of ongoing support from the Graduate Career Center staff and teaching assistants. They were so accessible, and they regularly responded to requests outside of scheduled office hours.

I appreciated the collaborative nature of the program, and having classmates with such different backgrounds—engineering, pharmaceuticals, all kinds of industries—gave me a well-rounded exposure to different ways of doing business. Also, I really learned the value of networking, which was a skill I didn’t have before. That has served me well in my job, where I often have to network across siloed groups.

Q: What advice would you give to women thinking of pursuing an MBA?

A: If you’re still in college, I’d say go for it straight out of school—don’t wait. That way you can give it your whole focus, and you’ll be able to market yourself right away.

For someone who’s already in the working environment, know that the value of the MBA can launch your career very quickly. And many companies are willing to support you financially, at least in part. Just the act of pursuing my MBA opened up a lot of doors, and once I earned it, there were financial rewards as well.

Earning your MBA isn’t easy, but the return on investment is worth it. Be sure to pick a school that supports you throughout the program. That’s what I found at Northeastern—my experience here was awesome.

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Michelle picked now to be part of the Online MBA program because, she says, “…there was never going to be a good time to start, so I really just had to jump in.”