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Darla Moore School of Business


Professional MBA students hone business skills through flexible program

October 21, 2016

When Josh Montoya was studying kinesiology for his undergraduate degree, he never imagined he would be working in commercial marketing for Coca-Cola 15 years after graduation. He needed a little extra income the summer before his senior year at Charleston Southern University, so he took a part-time job with the beverage company and has been moving up the chain of command ever since. Now the Illinois native works out of Charlotte, North Carolina, as the director of commercial execution.

“We have an amazing, diverse group of people that we have the opportunity to work with,” he said. “We always say if people make it a year in our business, they bleed Coca-Cola red. It’s almost like a family of people.”

And that’s what Montoya has found in the cohort of students in the Darla Moore School of Business’ Professional MBA program: connection. Not only is he improving his time management skills and refining the business knowledge he has gained over his years of experience, but the Professional MBA program has also given him “a better understanding of how different departments affect each other.”

Unlike Montoya, who admits that he “stumbled” into his career with Coca-Cola, Eric Thompson had been poised to work with FedEx Services since before he even began college. He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where FedEx is a booming presence and interned with the shipping company during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Auburn.

“That’s when the light went off for me and I realized this is a pretty interesting business,” Thompson said of his internship experience. “I think the biggest piece of interest for me is it’s a cross-industry company. We touch a little bit of everything, so that gives us great exposure to the global economy.” 

He brings this cross-industry experience as one of FedEx’s worldwide account managers to the Moore School’s Professional MBA program. He hopes to learn as much from his fellow students from other areas as from the program itself throughout its typical 28-month duration.

“I needed to up my game to understand all the different things that impact their world,” Thompson said of what he hopes to gain from the program for the sake of his clients. “I had to start looking at things from their point of view instead of from the point of view of someone that lives in supply chain.”

The Moore School marketing alumnus recognizes his role as the connecter in his company and joined the Professional MBA program to improve those vital communication skills.

“It’s my job to bring all the segments of an organization together, which forces me to be able to talk intelligently about how what we do fits into what they do and how we can ultimately help them do a better job,” he said.

Both have found the program to be challenging, especially seeing as they’ve both been out of the classroom for a few years. Considering his busy schedule, Montoya particularly appreciates the flexible nature of the courses.

“I ran into one of the Professional MBA alumni and he just raved about the flexibility of the program,” he said. “I knew I was going to be traveling a lot because of work, and I have young kids, so being able to take the courses on-site or on my computer from a hotel room — leveraging technology to stay on track — is something I really like.”

Overall, the two Professional MBA students appreciate the “full picture” of business operations that they can now see thanks to the program and the other students in their cohort.

By Madeleine Vath