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Thought Leadership

UNC Executive Development Helped Prepare Jake Parker for Promotion

Jake Parker was named the general counsel and secretary of the North Carolina Farm Bureau after serving as the legislative counsel and state legislative director for the last six years. In preparation for the role, he knew he needed to expand on certain skill sets, including his financial and accounting acumen.

UNC Executive Development’s Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers checked the boxes of what he was looking for in a continuing education program.

“I’m trying to broaden myself to have potential opportunities to expand on what I’m already doing in the organization, but I know I’m going to need these skills, or at least be able to speak the language,” he says. “Some people recommended the accounting program at UNC, and I thought about the MBA, but that was probably more intense than what I needed. The Financial Analysis for Non-Financial Managers course was the perfect fit for me, because I could get the basics in a really condensed but intense time frame.

“It’s well worth the time to get through the course, especially if you’re moving to a place in an organization or business where you’re going to be dealing with finance and accounting issues. You need the skills, you need to be competent in the concepts to be able to be the best employee or corporate officer or consultant to the organization you’re working with.”

A highlight for Parker was the access to faculty. He appreciated being able to ask questions and use real-life situations to better understand the material presented.

“Professor John Hand, in particular, does a really good job of getting you through, taking you into a deep dive, that you’re getting quality information but it’s not so detailed that you get lost in it,” he says. “He does a very good job of laying out the basic principles, then you get to practice it and you see how it fits. He’s also very open to hearing from the participants what are your experiences, why are you here, what issues are you dealing with?”

The three-day program also helped Parker grow his understanding of the language of finance and accounting to a level that will help him make informed decisions in his new position. While his day-to-day role is that of an attorney, the ability to talk with his finance experts gives him confidence as a leader.

“I don’t have to be the expert,” he says. “We’ve got people who are experts. I just have to be able to analyze what I’ve been asked to look at, have some sense of what we’re dealing with, and be able, as the attorney in the organization, to ask the right questions and understand how those concepts interface with law. I feel much more confident about this concept now. It enhances my leadership ability because I can now participate in conversations at a different level. That’s the value for me, enhancing that leadership ability.”