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While our Evening Executive MBA students enter the program with a variety of academic backgrounds, professional experiences, and career aspirations, they graduate with one common trait: the skills, knowledge, acumen, and desire to make an impact on the organizations they lead and the communities they serve.

Read stories of student success.

Kristi Huddy Moreno

Digital Experience Product Manager, Cisco
Raleigh, N.C.

Kristi Huddy Moreno

Digital Experience Product Manager, Cisco
Raleigh, N.C.

Early in her career, Kristi Huddy Moreno was on the front lines of graduate school admissions and watched students make major career changes with an MBA. It opened her eyes about the impact an MBA could make. “Seeing the personal transformation and career advancement students were able to achieve was really inspiring.”

Fast forward a decade, and a move to North Carolina, and the time finally felt right to consider her own MBA. Kristi knew she wanted to do something big and her manager, the company’s CMO, recognized her drive. Through a series of development conversations, her manager encouraged her to pursue an MBA and was willing to pay for it — a big vote of confidence in her and the degree. “It was a no brainer. I was hungry for growth and wanted to prepare myself for senior leadership,” she said.

At the time, Kristi was working as a marketing manager for a construction and engineering consulting firm. She chose UNC Kenan-Flagler because of its strong reputation and rankings, and because of its location in the Research Triangle region — a hub of economic growth and business innovation. The biggest draw, though, was the collaborative and highly supportive community at the heart of the Kenan-Flagler experience. “The focus on leadership and integrity, and the core values that were integrated into the academic and student experience, drew me to UNC. I wanted a supportive community and network to get most out of my MBA,” Kristi explained, “I knew I’d grow from exposure to a variety of different perspectives.”

The highlight of her Evening Executive MBA experience (aside from meeting her husband during the program and having a classmate officiate their wedding) was the Innovation and Design Thinking elective. That course was a catalyst in shaping her post-MBA career trajectory. Just three months after graduating, she started a new job as a Journey Development Manager at Cisco. The role is directly relevant to the design thinking elective and involves developing marketing strategies based on customer insights to boost retention rates.

“The course opened my eyes to the importance of taking a customer-focused approach, learning from consumers’ wants and needs and discovering how they use products differently than intended to drive better satisfaction and retention,” she said. “It got me thinking outside of the box to anticipate problems for customers and come up with solutions.”

The MBA helped Kristi find her path, identifying a career opportunity that she didn’t know was possible and igniting her passion for improving the post-sales consumer experience. Even more than that, it equipped her with the language and skills to get there. With this new toolkit, she leveraged strong relationships within her network to prepare for the role at Cisco. They told her that what matters most to the company are its core values: inclusion and collaboration, which align with UNC Kenan-Flagler’s core values. “Knowing I should focus on communicating that I embody these values to my interviewers helped me to position myself to be a more attractive candidate for the role,” Kristi shared.

Her investment in the MBA has already paid dividends, since the job came with a large salary increase and ample opportunity for career growth – including earning a promotion to Digital Experience Product Manager within her first year at Cisco. She said she expects the degree to be a gift that keeps on giving as she rises through the Cisco ranks, “the MBA has helped me establish that I’m resilient, agile, and that I can do hard things. To employers, an MBA communicates that you’re invested in yourself and in continuous growth. The degree will help me to stand out from the crowd immensely.”

Jason Brown

Co-founder and CFO, Shipal
Cary, N.C.

Jason Brown

Co-founder and CFO, Shipal
Cary, N.C.

A chance sales pitch changed the trajectory of Jason Brown’s career, while he continued to shape his long-term entrepreneurial aspirations. He’d spent seven years earning his stripes as a network engineer in the telecommunications industry, but felt ready to take on new challenges. “I knew I wanted to do more, to try new things, and add a little more excitement to my career,” he said.

One day he was asked to present a technology solution to a customer. “I got to see the sales team do their magic,” said Jason. “They told me I did a good job and that I should look into switching careers.”

Getting outside of his comfort zone that day only furthered Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit. He had previously founded a software development company as a side-hustle, but ultimately, the startup failed because he lacked business experience. His mentor, already a successful businessman, advised him to consider an MBA, which would complement his technical skills, to learn how to create value as an entrepreneur.

Jason visited a class run by Ted Zoller, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler. Dr. Zoller invited local entrepreneurs to campus to share their experiences of starting a business. “I was blown away,” said Jason. “I thought, I have to be here. This is exactly what I want to learn.” When he considered his options he knew, “There is no other school that has a curriculum that matches my exact needs.”

He built up his business experience in the Evening Executive MBA program, enrolling in 2018 while working as a network engineer. With help from Mabel Miguel, professor of organizational behavior, he learned how to leverage his internal corporate network by getting outside of departmental silos. That led Jason to make a career pivot into a sales function during the MBA program.

“Now, I’m a Sales Engineer with a major telecommunications company. I have four Fortune 100 clients, I deal with executives around the globe, utilizing the strategic, and financial learnings I received here. That never would have happened without the MBA,” Jason shared. The flexible format of the Evening MBA empowered him to put academic theory into practice at work immediately. The core modules covering the nuts and bolts of business helped him support his clients as they responded to the coronavirus pandemic. “The MBA gave me the confidence to dig deeper into a customer’s problem, to find and communicate a solution.”

Along  with the hope of founding his own company further down the line, Jason took a specific approach to his MBA. “My goal was to focus on finance and entrepreneurship. I knew where UNC would help me strengthen my weaknesses, so I applied myself heavily in those subjects” Then, drawing on lessons from the program, he co-founded Shipal, which is a logistics platform based in Colombia, South America. “We aggregate major couriers that enable merchants to access and choose the best shipping option for their logistical needs” Jason explained. The startup has seen tremendous success growing organically to hundreds of users and shipping over 11,000 units. “We moved over 3 metric tons of cargo in 2021.” Last year they doubled their growth and are now launching their automated platform. “In New Ventures Launch Class, we fleshed out the idea and business plan. We received great feedback from the guest coaches, and ultimately won the pitch competition. Our success today is largely attributed to the lessons learned in that class.”

The next step for him is to continue to build Shipal, as the company is already profitable. “My MBA has already paid off, and there’s definitely a lot more upside to come.”

Bryan Perry

Bryan Perry

Director, U.S. Crop East, BASF
Holly Springs, N.C.

Bryan Perry

Bryan Perry

Director, U.S. Crop East, BASF
Holly Springs, N.C.

In order to grow professionally and open himself up to new opportunities in his organization, Bryan pursued his MBA to become a more well-rounded leader. Looking for a program where he could learn more than just hard business skills like economics, accounting, and finance, he chose UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program for its focus on real-world leadership skills. “From the initial CCL Benchmarks 360 assessment to the personal development plan you create, UNC Kenan-Flagler understands and helps students develop the personal characteristics leaders need,” commented Bryan.

In the program, Bryan benefited greatly from the ethnic, gender, and professional diversity of his cohort, which he credits for helping him to become a stronger leader. “My group was extremely intelligent but we all learned very differently,” Bryan recalled. “I’m a doer and very extroverted, so I had to learn not to overpower and how to effectively bring other members of my team along. The biggest lesson for me was realizing that I had teammates and group members I could lean on, which helped me develop a more well-rounded approach to leadership.” Bryan’s Evening MBA experience also sharpened his listening skills and taught him how to read subtle cues from his teammates, which, in turn, helped him become a more empathetic leader.

While he was in the program, Bryan accomplished his goal to advance his career by taking on a new role within his organization (and even earned a second promotion shortly after he graduated). Bryan, however, noted that he’s also surprised by how marketable he’s become through the strength of the network he’s built, “It’s provided a security I didn’t necessarily have before in my career.”

Amanda Rodgers

Amanda Rodgers

Senior Manager, Account Development, Avalara
Apex, N.C.

Amanda Rodgers

Amanda Rodgers

Senior Manager, Account Development, Avalara
Apex, N.C.

Amanda chose to pursue her MBA as a professional challenge to fast-track her growth in management at her company. What she didn’t expect was that earning an MBA would provide immediate opportunities at other companies and the confidence to pursue executive roles she described as a huge step outside of her comfort zone.

For Amanda, the teamwork and peer support inherent in the cohort structure of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program was important. “It makes perfect sense that we would learn in teams because we work in teams everyday,” explained Amanda. “I learned that it is always better to have people with different expertise. I have a sales background, and people on my team were HR professionals in pharmaceuticals, aerospace engineers, marketing professionals, and more. The diversity was a huge plus and allowed us to excel in every assignment.”

This team approach gave Amanda a unique perspective on how to best tackle a diverse set of business challenges, which, in turn, helped her build essential leadership skills. “The program gave me the ability to step back and interpret things differently, she said. “Now, I better understand how people think and how to motivate them. It’s a set of principles I wouldn’t have learned on the job alone.”

Amanda credits her MBA experience with providing her a new level of confidence. It’s also helped her achieve the career growth she hoped for when she started the program. “I am much more comfortable with data analysis. Since completing my Evening MBA, I’ve become more of a data-driven leader who can find and arrange data to make the best decision for my team and our company.”

Matt Straatmann

Matt Straatmann

Account Executive, Dell Technologies
Greensboro, N.C.

Matt Straatmann

Matt Straatmann

Account Executive, Dell Technologies
Greensboro, N.C.

Like most working professionals considering the pursuit of an MBA, Matt carefully evaluated his expected ROI, weighing quantifiable benefits, like higher salary and accelerated career growth, against perceived risks, like student loan debt or conflicts with work or family life. What he couldn’t analyze at the outset, however, became some of the most important benefits he gained from UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program.

Matt built an extensive network of peers and professors who played — and continue to play — an instrumental role in his professional development. (One connection, in fact, opened an opportunity for a new role, which he stepped into while he was in the program.) In this area, Matt credits the cohort model and the diverse student population.

“As a sales professional, I found learning from my engineering and finance peers incredibly valuable,” Matt noted. “They shared unique perspectives about how to think, communicate, and approach any given business challenge, which gave me the confidence and insight to communicate more intelligently with professionals across different roles and industries.”

While in the program, Matt also developed a new set of entrepreneurial skills, established a network of experienced and qualified entrepreneur mentors, and found a passion for start-up consulting. He’s consulted for several start-up companies and remains connected to UNC’s entrepreneurial community.

Matt’s MBA opened doors for his career as a sales professional with immediate, tangible results. “My MBA has strengthened my personal brand, set me apart from my competitors, and helped me develop meaningful business opportunities,” commented Matt. “I often leverage the skills, network, and experience I gained in the program to help my customers solve their own business challenges or drive new initiatives forward.”

Harry Stafford

Harry Stafford

Physician / Director, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, UNC School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Harry Stafford

Harry Stafford

Physician / Director, Sports Medicine Fellowship Program, UNC School of Medicine
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Before joining the Evening MBA program, Harry was, in many ways, already at the top of his game: a top doctor specializing in sports medicine, a tenured professor leading an important fellowship program, a former Division I athlete, the team physician for numerous sports at the college and high-school level, and a recognized humanitarian with deep connections in his community and significant work with numerous organizations. “Giving back to the community means a lot to me,” shared Harry. “A number of people in my life reached back to help me accomplish my goals. Now, I feel an immense responsibility to help others accomplish their goals.” 

To build leadership skills he could use to help his team flourish and reach their full potential, Harry decided to pursue his MBA. “As a Division I athlete, my leadership centered around a team-based approach where everyone had one goal: win the game,” Harry explained. “Corporate teams do not function in this way and trying to lead with a head coach mentality was not effective. I needed to learn new skills in order to become an effective leader in the corporate environment.” 

Harry gained knowledge he could immediately apply to his work. “My Operations course played a significant role in reframing my thinking,” Harry noted. “I learned the importance of evaluation in every process, which helped me transform the clinical processes in my sports medicine clinic.” His hard work in the program also earned him praise from key faculty members. “Building on his distinguished record of achievements, earning his MBA has allowed Dr. Stafford to strategically reinvent and reposition himself for maximum impact in an economy and society where the new normal is ‘certain uncertainty’,” said James Johnson, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship.

Simone Saleh

Simone Saleh Lawson

Co-Owner, Sassool Mediterranean Café
Raleigh, N.C.

Simone Saleh Lawson

Simone Saleh

Co-Owner, Sassool Mediterranean Café,
Raleigh, N.C.

Growing up in her family’s business, a successful Mediterranean restaurant in Raleigh, Simone has been motivated by her passion for hospitality, culture, and a spirit of entrepreneurship, a passion that she not only applies to her professional work but also to her volunteer work with numerous local organizations. A strong advocate for wellness and healthy living and the restaurant’s head of marketing, she has been an integral part of the team, creating a series of cooking classes to demonstrate healthy cooking techniques and promote key menu items.

With a goal to build her professional network and embrace innovative thinking, Simone entered UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program. “It was a goal of mine to establish myself in the community,” she explained. Being given the opportunity to connect with many people from different industries and stages of business has proven even more valuable that I anticipated.” Surrounding herself with highly driven, highly creative peers, Simone also felt a strong sense of belonging in the program, “When my classmates came to me with questions about operations, human resources, and how to run their own operations leaner, I felt that I could really bring valuable experience to the group.”

Leveraging enthusiasm that has made her successful both inside and outside of the classroom, Simone recognizes the impact that her MBA experience has had on her professionally. “The experience has made the ideation and launch process so much more within my reach,” she commented. “I am better prepared to assess opportunities and lay out the steps needed to make ideas come to life.” In the long-term, Simone hopes to put this energy to work at a larger scope, expanding outside of the restaurant business to open boutique hotels and resorts and provide consulting on creating culture-rich experiences, services, and products.

Cynthia Stanton

Cynthia Stanton

Supply Chain Operations Manager, BASF

Raleigh, N.C.

Cynthia Stanton

Cynthia Stanton

Supply Chain Operations Manager, BASF

Raleigh, N.C.

Raising four school-age sons, volunteering at her church, and serving multiple employee resource groups at work, Cynthia was busy enough outside of her professional role at BASF. As the company’s Supply Chain Operations Manager, she led numerous teams across a variety of disciplines, from planning to distribution and logistics to customer service. Cynthia had been considering an MBA for years and with her long-term goal to design and implement the strategic vision for her organization, she joined UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Evening MBA program seeking opportunities to meet and learn from a strong, talented individuals.

Cynthia was able to able to apply numerous insights from her studies to her work. “In my Corporate Reputation Management course, Professor Edward McCraw’s behind-the-scenes insights on how decisions were really made – and what really happened in the C-suite – was enlightening,” she described. “I now see more clearly how my role as a leader means that my behaviors, and the perception of my behaviors, can have an impact on our company’s reputation.”

Change management, highly relevant to her role, was another area where Cynthia’s academic pursuits and work experience crossed paths. “Just as I was starting my MBA, my company announced a large acquisition, and I was on the integration team,” Cynthia commented. “Learning about how to manage through multiple changes, learning about how I handled change, and learning how to guide a team through changes — all while I was in the midst of an integration — was invaluable.”

The Evening MBA program’s director of career and leadership, William Faulkner, described Cynthia as a gifted thought leader and generous role model. “Cynthia has had tremendous success and career advancement as a supply chain professional,” he said. “At BASF, her hard work and expertise have earned her frequent promotions and also a reputation as an emerging influencer within her organization.”

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