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Darla Moore School of Business

MBA alumna uses international experience to gain Michelin promotion

Dec. 19, 2019

Moore School MBA alumna Erika Davis (’18 MBA) has already seen her hard work pay off within a year of graduating from the Professional MBA program after receiving a promotion at Michelin.

Within Michelin, an international manufacturing company, Davis was promoted in August 2019 to RDI North America logistics coordinator from purchasing contract manager, a position she held while taking classes. In her new role she is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the logistics processes supporting the research and development of Michelin in North America including but not limited to warehousing, freight routing, method of transport and support cost savings initiatives worldwide.

“The skills I learned that were expanded upon during the Professional MBA program allowed for bigger picture planning versus day-to-day operational tasks,” Davis said. “The further knowledge of business from a higher level of education is what will drive my professional growth.”

An Ecuador native, Davis chose to attend the Professional MBA program because it allowed her to continue working full-time for Michelin while balancing being a single mother in Greenville, South Carolina.

The most rewarding experience Davis said she had during the Professional MBA program was the opportunity to do a study abroad trip to Central Europe. She was able to fit the trip into her schedule because it didn’t require her to go for a whole semester.

“For 10 days we had an amazing opportunity to visit many types of European businesses and incredible places which I probably would not have been able to visit on my own,” she said. “The professors in Vienna were great hosts – they showed us a perfect combination between the academic instruction and the culture and history of the three countries we visited.”

Davis said since she works for a French company, seeing the European corporate culture was eye-opening for her.

“The study abroad program helped me better understand the culture, how the decisions are made and the driving purpose to deliver a product of excellence,” she said. “In my new role [with Michelin] working with a worldwide network, I feel that my performance is better with my understanding and appreciation of the various peer cultures. Best practices are able to be shared between sites to fine-tune creating one standard worldwide.”

Beyond her trip abroad, Davis appreciated being able to compartmentalize her studies within the Professional MBA program. Even with the program’s flexibility that allows students to participate in classes remotely and attend Saturday sessions in Columbia, South Carolina, Davis initially felt challenged balancing classes two hours away with a child to consider.

“At the beginning it was a bit difficult, but I very much enjoyed the one-on-one interaction with teachers and other classmates,” she said. “It was very nice to make use of the facilities of the school and feel the college environment.”

Her daughter, Alessa, was 10 years old at the time she began the program, so Davis often wouldn’t begin her studying until after her daughter had completed her own homework and gone to bed, usually after 10 p.m. most weeknights. Davis did have help with Alessa thanks to her older daughter, Juliana, who had just finished nursing school at USC Upstate before Davis began her MBA degree.

“Grocery shopping was done at 4 a.m. or in between weekend activities,” she said. “Finding work, home and school balance required a lot of sacrifice. In the beginning, it was more of a challenge to find how all aspects of life and the new challenge of the PMBA would fit together. By the second semester, a routine formed, and time management was a key factor in the driving success of course work.”

Davis also said returning to school to obtain her MBA 15 years after graduating from Universidad Eloy Alfaro de Manta in Ecuador was intimidating “not only because the classes would be in another language than my native language (Spanish) but also because the system and university technology were very different from what I’d seen before. I was very pleased that every single professor and staff member was very helpful and patient.”

Davis was surprised at the level of networking she was able to do even as a remote, part-time student.

“I think the interaction with people all over the different campuses was appealing,” she said. “I had to participate in projects with team members located in different cities and states. We shared not just the time in the projects but also work and personal experiences, allowing us to cultivate good friendships from a distance.”

Davis noted she is seeing multiple returns on her investment in obtaining her MBA and is thankful her employer, Michelin, subsidized the cost of her MBA and sees them receiving a return on their investment as well.

“First and foremost is showing my daughters Juliana and Alessa that you can accomplish anything you want if you put in the work; personally, the satisfaction that I have completed a challenge through every trial and tribulation put in front of me,” she said. “Professionally, it has shown that I can manage my time and put in the work to succeed at the tasks presented. It has opened doors for new job positions to advance in my career. The investment made by my employer is being paid back through the new skills learned to achieve cost saving benefits. Of course, there is a personal financial return as well.”

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