Tony Morash (MBA ’16) made the most of his MBA experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Among his many accomplishments, he received the 2016 Rollie Tillman Outstanding Leadership Award in recognition of his contributions as a Kenan Institute Leadership Fellow.
Tony shared his insights on staying fully engaged in business school and reflections from his two years in Chapel Hill in an interview with MBASchooled.
What will you miss most about your MBA experience?
The people, without question. We had such a wonderful group of classmates that got along well and really made each day a lot of fun. The classes, group projects, socials, UNC basketball games, dinners, etc. – none of that is any fun without an extraordinary group of friends and classmates to share it with. I’ll absolutely miss the academic environment in which you have the freedom to learn and debate topics that are immediately relevant to our business careers, but that’s a distant second to our community.
What is your favorite memory from business school?
Besides winning Blue Cup (our annual competition against Duke Fuqua) both years, I’d have to say the weekly poker and scotch nights that I shared with the most exceptional group I could ask for. Those nights really encompassed everything special about Business School. We could shoot the breeze about politics, business or sports, debate at the top of our lungs and have a blast doing it. The group was a little microcosm of the Business School, with guys heading into consulting, real estate, tech giants, startups, finance, etc. UNC Kenan-Flagler always talks about how important it is to bring your perspective to School, and that – of all places – was where that perspective always felt most valuable.
What are you most proud of from your MBA experience?
I’m most proud of how engaged I was for the full two years. To the bitter end, I was still working on Consulting Club events like Spring Curriculum, which helps first and second-years get ready to head back into the workforce. I was also trying to take more technical classes in data analytics, pricing, etc. to make sure I was ready to go in my new career, too. I think I’ll look back on the experience and be really proud that I stayed checked in the whole way, particularly since it helped me be available to first years during recruiting, put a few extra smiles on people’s faces and gave me two full years to make my mark on our program.
What part of you has undergone the most transformation while in business school?
The salesman in me has absolutely developed in business school. I don’t mean that in a slimy way, but more so that I learned how to be persuasive in my arguments and presentations. When I think back to our first case competition (the Deloitte Case Competition held in the fall of first year) to now, my ability to assess a client’s needs, build a business case that makes sense and deliver a compelling story has grown exponentially. Even before business school, I had the elements of these things – but my classes, my work with the Consulting Club and my summer internship really provided me the skills and confidence to bring it all together.
Who is someone who has had a positive influence on you while in business school?
There really were so many, and I thought about this question for a long time. I’ll mention two of them here, although I’m leaving out a dozen others.
David Kearns (MBA ’15) was a year ahead of me and has since gone on to Deloitte. He was my career mentor, and we were both Kenan Institute fellows. David was an enormous influence as I went through the recruiting process for consulting. More than anyone else, he was my go-to when I needed advice on picking between activities, getting ready for interviews, etc. I also tried to absorb and emulate David’s demeanor. He could be such a positive guy, but he’d never hesitate to give you the truth – and that’s not an easy thing to do among your peers. He’s a great leader for that very reason. Most importantly, he showed me that being fully committed to what you’re doing – whether it’s taking a class, working on a case, putting together a slide deck or working at your summer internship – doesn’t mean sacrificing your family.
Second – and this goes without saying – is my wife. It is literally impossible to put in words how much spouses put up with to let us live our dreams at business school. She tolerated these two years with a smile on her face, which helped me have the energy to make the most of the experience. This was critical for us as we started to think about how the post-business school consulting lifestyle is going to impact our family, and she always brought out the best in me as I tried to find my way.
Is there anything that you haven’t gotten to do that you wish you had done?
I wish I had been able to take advantage of our program’s global opportunities over the two years. I spent a lot of my pre-business school education and career living and working abroad, so this wasn’t really a priority for me. I also had a few big life events (including my wedding) that obviously took precedent.
However, when I hear about the experiences my classmates had – particularly the two-week Global Immersion Electives that allow students to explore a country through a business lens – I wish I had been able to take advantage of that experience, too. That experience will be invaluable for them as we work for global companies.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Ah, the great unknown. I know more about the characteristics of where I want to be in life as opposed to a specific location or job. Let’s assume that I’m lucky enough to be a manager at Deloitte in five years, still working my tail off out of the McLean office. I want to be loan free (!), to have found my home in an industry or service line, and to have found a firm where I could stay forever if I wanted to. Most importantly, I want to prove to myself that I have value to add – that’s critical for me. I want folks in our firm to be able to say, “You need someone to do X project? Tony is your guy.”
Thinking outside of the corporate sphere, I’m a big proponent of giving back as soon as you can. I’d like to have found two or three nonprofits that I can add value to with my skill set. I’m already working with one organization that helps paralyzed veterans reintegrate into the workforce, and I need to keep my eyes open for other opportunities!