UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Advancing your career doesn't have to mean leaving your company


Many people I speak with feel that the only way to advance their career is to move outside their company. They cite obstacles like corporate cultures that do not promote from within or foster lateral moves, managers who do not recognize additional skills above those utilized on a daily basis, and/or bosses that are unresponsive or too busy to conduct career development discussions.

While these obstacles sometimes are real, advancing your career doesn’t have to mean leaving your company. Allan Monroe Solomon (EMBA’10) is a case in point. When he began the Evening MBA Program, he was a District Sales Manager (North Carolina) for National Instruments. He recently received a promotion to Area Sales Manager (North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia), a position that involves high level consultative sales, team management and empowerment, and area strategy.

In his own words, Allan describes below some of the approaches and activities that helped him achieve this new role.

When you began the Evening MBA program, what was your main career goal? Did it change during the program? My goal is to maximize my positive impact on the world. While this goal didn’t change, my understanding of how to accomplish it was greatly advanced. Through extensive reading, EMBA Career Workshops, and networking, it became apparent that to accomplish my goal, I needed to better understand how to deploy my unique strengths and passions. The EMBA program gave me the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people from many areas and diverse industries. This experiential learning gave me a much deeper understanding of the type of role that would not only efficiently move me in the direction of my goals, but maximize the value I could bring to my organization, customers and core team.

What school resources did you avail yourself of that helped you achieve your career goal? I met regularly with John Worth and Peter Romanella (Associate Director of Leadership Programs) to better understand myself and translate that into the best next career move. I regularly met with professors to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and how it pertained to my career and current role. I also worked with UNC-CIBER and the Center for Sustainable Enterprise for additional projects and attended relevant events.

What actions did you take the helped the most? Taking the time to learn about other career options and different roles was very valuable. This helped me better understand the strengths and challenges of my current organization. It also helped me to prioritize what I needed from the organization to thrive. When I made the decision to stay in my current firm and apply for the Area Sales Manager role, I had a deep understanding of why and could much more clearly articulate during the interview process.

What excites you the most about your new position? This new role gives me entrepreneurial freedom, the same great corporate culture, and the imperative for strategic planning and change management due to the transitional nature of my firm. The shift from technical product sales to consultative selling puts me in a position to leverage the knowledge gained during my MBA to work more strategically at higher levels with my customers and in my firm.

I hope Allan’s story and this information has been helpful. Please contact me at john_worth@unc.edu if you have any questions or would like to arrange an appointment.