Congratulations to our spring 2019 Moore School graduates! In celebration of graduation, here's a look at what a few of our newest Moore School alumni enjoyed about their time here, their advice for current students and where they're headed next.
International business, marketing student sees whole world before graduation
International business graduate Pooja Bahl has taken passion for travel to an entirely new level.
Bahl, who also majored in marketing and minored in French and Mandarin, traveled to more than 40 countries and all seven continents before she finished college.
Bahl’s parents are from India; her father is a flight attendant, and her mother is an occupational therapist. They instilled a love for travel in Bahl and her siblings from a young age.
“I had been to six out of the seven continents by age 10,” she said. “It was my brother’s and my dream to go to Antarctica,” Bahl said. “My mother joked, ‘Maybe when you’re 21.’ When we were 20, she sat us down and asked if we were serious, and we said ‘Yes.’ She planned the entire trip. It was the greatest experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
This zest for travel and adventure sparked Bahl to choose international business for her major, and the Moore School’s top ranking brought her to Columbia from Chicago.
Studying abroad for an extended period of time appealed to Bahl, who spent three semesters in Hong Kong, a month in Beijing and two months in Taiwan as an undergraduate as part of the International Business and Chinese Enterprise program.
While in Hong Kong, Bahl got to work with Cathay Pacific, the largest airline in Hong Kong, on their new product development.
“It was an amazing experience to get hands-on experience work with a real company while still being an undergrad,” she said.
Her time abroad — and even at South Carolina — taught her to appreciate everyone’s differences.
“I learned how important it is to effectively communicate with people very different from yourself, whether that was coming to South Carolina and experiencing culture shock — I hadn’t heard of grits, y’all — or going abroad,” Bahl said. “I loved learning about different ways of living. Going to Hong Kong, meeting people from all over the world, understanding different ways of doing things, different perspectives — it’s a vital skill to have in any work environment to always work with people very different from you.”
In between her study abroad experiences, Bahl interned in Chicago with Newell Brands, working with the team in Japan to market the number one selling product on the Japanese market — the Coleman camping wagon.
“The Coleman camping wagon has $11 million in sales in Japan annually versus $500,000 in the U.S.,” she said.
Bahl will continue working with Newell Brands in Boca Raton, Florida, where she will work as an assistant brand manager. Newell includes brands such as Contigo water bottles, Rubbermaid, Yankee Candle Company, CrockPot and Sharpie markers.
Unsurprisingly, Bahl will be traveling for her new job.
Graduating finance student furthers life skills learned in military while at Moore School
Graduating finance student Taylor Benson took a less traditional path to secure his Darla Moore School of Business degree after a four-year stint in the Marines.
The Charleston native had already gained valuable life experience from the military before coming to the University of South Carolina.
Benson said he learned about public speaking and how to give successful presentations. More importantly, Benson said the military taught him “how to work with disagreeable people,” a skill he says everyone will need as they enter school or the job force.
Joining the military right out of high school was always Benson’s plan.
In joining the Marines, “the seed was planted from an early age,” Benson said. “Growing up in the 9/11 era, I was eight years old when 9/11 happened, and then, being a generally patriotic person, I always wanted to serve the country that had given so much to my family — the opportunity, freedom and a safe place to believe whatever you want to believe.”
Benson deployed twice for seven months each term. He describes his time overseas as relatively uneventful.
His unit was part of the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, which augmented security at U.S. embassies. They were assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Yemen at the end of 2012 to assist with security just after the Benghazi attack. He spent the rest of his deployments in Kuwait and Bahrain.
While Benson enjoyed his time in the Marines, he decided early on that he wanted a different career.
“It’s a hard way of life, it’s very hard to have a family and to have a life outside of the Marines,” he said. “Hats off to those who do it, but I wanted to do other things in the civilian world.”
When Benson decided to go back to school after his enlistment ended, he chose the Moore School because of its proximity to his family and its renowned reputation.
He chose finance as his major because of its versatility.
“Finance is one of the most well-rounded business majors. No matter what a company does, they’re going to need finance-savvy people,” Benson said. “I felt like that opened up a lot more opportunities rather than learning something specific like supply chain. Whether corporate finance or banking or sales, there are so many opportunities.”
Benson worked hard to finish his degree in three years to take full advantage of the GI Bill, which only covers 36 months of tuition and expenses.
As an older veteran, Benson exhibited a noticeable maturity in class compared to his younger peers, said Pat Hanly, Moore School management senior lecturer, fellow veteran and Benson’s mentor and former teacher.
Benson “was absolutely engaged in every aspect of the class,” Hanly said. “His accomplishments should become the future Darla Moore School of Business standard by which we measure excellence in academics, involvement and giving back to younger classes.”
In addition to finishing school in three years, Benson extensively traveled during university breaks with friends, visiting Cuba, New Zealand and China and doing three cross-country road trips.
One such road trip in 2018 was paid for by National Financial Planning, thanks to a connection Benson and a friend made through Delta Sigma Pi, a Moore School business fraternity. For the sponsorship, Benson and his friend recorded a podcast, interviewing college students on nine campuses around the country asking about their perception of the job market.
Benson encourages all students to take advantage of the breaks in college semesters to further get to know their friends and family and experience new places.
“Enjoy the moments with your friends and family when you have them and take the opportunity to travel when you can and see the world,” Benson said. “It’s the best way to live, and the best way to understand the world in general is to go out and see it.”
Benson will take a trip to Italy and Switzerland after graduation before beginning his career with Keyence in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he will sell industrial technology such as automation sensors, barcode readers and digital microscopes to mid-level manufacturers.
Marketing graduate came to Moore School to follow in her mother’s footsteps
Moore School graduating senior Meghan Peterson has always been interested in marketing.
From Omaha, Nebraska, Peterson grew up listening to her mother talk about her career in marketing and knew that’s what she wanted to pursue in college.
“Hearing about the things she was working on — it was almost like art and science,” said Peterson, also double-majoring in operations and supply chain. “There’s a creative side being able to build something really beautiful and a science side behind why it works and why it should work when working with consumers.”
Peterson chose the Moore School partly because of its reputation but also because she fell in love with the campus when she visited.
“The thing that sold me, when my family and I got lost on the way to the business school during our visit, a student introduced himself as an economics major and chatted with us — that kind of kindness just sealed the deal,” she said.
Despite her lifelong dedication to marketing, Peterson wavered on changing her major to accounting as a sophomore.
“I had an accounting professor (adjunct Debbie Brumbaugh) who was absolutely inspirational,” she said. “Her way of teaching made so much sense to me.”
Ultimately, Peterson realized she was still passionate about marketing, and a Moore School marketing lecturer, Mark Newsome, also inspired her.
“To be able to learn from someone so qualified like lecturer Newsome, who shared his mind on literally everything, helped us develop a bond that I am confident will stay in contact post-graduation,” Peterson said. “I just admire his opinion so much and his fearlessness to not just take anything for an answer. He’s influenced not only my current decisions but also my future decisions, which I know won’t be made without a phone call back to him.”
The feeling is mutual, as Newsome said Peterson is an intuitive marketer.
“A quality I really appreciate in Peterson is her demonstrated ability to actively listen. As a marketer, a piece of advice I regularly share with students is to carefully listen to what consumers have to say,” Newsome said. “Peterson then takes what she learns and translates this info in to actionable insights. She is a leader and a great team member — that’s a combination that is often difficult to find.”
Peterson gained what she calls valuable experience outside the classroom during her undergraduate career as well. She studied abroad in China, Germany and Rome.
She participated in the Chief Marketing Officer Summit at the Moore School her final two years as a student and heard from international marketing professionals about their career paths and what changes they’ve been able to create within various companies.
“The Chief Marketing Officer Summit is like Christmas every year when they come out with the lineup,” she said.
Getting involved in the Moore School beyond classes, studying abroad and even on-campus events is crucial for students to be successful, Peterson said.
“You are who you surround yourself with. The reason I have internships, or any accomplishment in the Moore School, is because I surrounded myself with women from the Women in Business Council,” an organization Peterson said she saw grow from 25 members her freshman year to more than 160 four years later, “and members of Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity. They are my family, they pushed me to be better, do more.”
She credits the contacts she made through the council and fraternity with helping her land her first job in Portland, Oregon, with Intel, whose technology is in everything from health care to the drones restoring the Great Wall of China, Peterson said. She interned with Intel in Silicon Valley, California, last summer.
“I’ll be working with a brand that I love and will be able to provide results for a company in marketing,” Peterson said. “I see the projects that Intel is working on changing lives. I want to work for a brand that’s more than just turning revenue.”
Photo Credit: J. Corenlius Photography
Graduating finance student hopes to use her love for numbers to effect change in her community
Graduating Darla Moore School of Business finance student Anea Gause plans to use her passion for numbers to someday implement financial literacy programs in her rural South Carolina hometown.
The first-generation college student from Mullins, South Carolina, remembers while growing up that many in her community didn’t understand budgeting or finance. Mullins’ residents have an estimated $29,000 median income.
Raised by her grandmother, Gause said she had what she needed but realized how limited her resources were when she came to the University of South Carolina and saw the affluence of other students. While she is graduating with no debt thanks to scholarships and grants, Gause knows few families have the means or knowledge to establish college funds for their children in lower-income areas such as Mullins.
“Before coming to UofSC, I sometimes would be embarrassed of where I come from because of a lack of opportunities,” she said. “But after telling several people my story, I realized I could make a greater impact by developing programs and connecting with other organizations to promote growth in my own community.”
After establishing her own career, Gause wants to create her own organization in Mullins that teaches financial literacy and educates individuals on budgeting.
“In five years, I hope to be in the planning phases of developing a social enterprise that will promote diversity and financial literacy in underrepresented communities to create awareness of the disparities these communities face,” she said.
While she has her future mapped out, she has already secured a job immediately after graduation with Grant Thornton in Charlotte as a regulatory compliance and solutions associate. She was offered the job in October.
Grant Thornton is one of six global audit, tax and advisory firms with offices in more than 100 countries, including 57 offices across 29 states in the U.S.
Gause chose advisory for her first position because she wants to work in a team-oriented setting.
“With advisory, I will be traveling to different companies evaluating their compliance policies and procedures and recommending and implementing policies and procedures to mitigate risk,” she said.
“I was always a finance major, but I had no clue what I wanted to do,” she said. “After my first internship at Johns Hopkins, I realized I hated accounting. After my second internship at Cargill, I realized I hated working by myself and working behind a computer all day.
“Never turn down an opportunity because you won’t know where it might take you. You’ll be put in situations where you may hate everything that you’re doing, but you will always learn from that.”
Venturing beyond South Carolina for her internships and what she calls a “life-changing” study abroad spring break 2019 trip to Malawi, Africa, pushed Gause to reflect on her own experiences while also expecting more of herself.
“I’ve learned to question the norms, break barriers and become comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she said. “That’s a big thing for me. Utilizing those three things has put me in situations where I’m forced to grow, opened the door for more opportunities and allowed me to experience more than I’d ever dreamed of.”
Gause will be a well-respected and accomplished business leader in her future career, said Alice Leri, Moore School associate dean for diversity and inclusion and an assistant professor, who got to know Gause in one of her courses and during a study abroad opportunity.
“Anea is not afraid to push herself, and this allowed her to try new experiences and seek her passions during these undergraduate years,” Leri said. “I can’t imagine any better accomplishment than her independence, determination and maturity she’s gained as an undergraduate.”
Moore School Master of Accountancy graduate learns importance of data analytics, hopes to give back to his home country
Master of Accountancy graduate Kudakwashe Chinyama began his pursuit of becoming an auditor in high school in Harare, Zimbabwe.
After completing his undergraduate degree at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, Chinyama chose the Moore School’s MACC program because of its small class sizes, low faculty-student ratio, flexibility and the faculty’s enthusiasm.
“The experience has been amazing,” said Chinyama, who is on the accountancy business measurement and assurance track. “The program’s focus on engaged learning facilitates discussions which contribute a lot to the learning experience. The availability of a graduate lounge where most of the graduate students at the Moore School hang out has made it very easy to connect with fellow MACC students and other graduate students from different programs of the business school.”
Chinyama knew to be a certified public accountant and auditor, he’d need 150 credit hours toward the CPA licensure requirement. While working to complete the 150 hours at the Moore School, he spent a great deal of time learning data analytics, which is a concept the Moore School is emphasizing for every student.
“I have learned a lot about data analytics, especially how to use historical data to identify trends, determine why certain events happened, predict future performance and prescribe a course of action,” Chinyama said. “I have also learned a lot about how to optimize limited resources and how to visualize and manage data in general.”
In conjunction with his master’s, Chinyama completed his Business Analytics Certificate.
“In this era of big data, it has become paramount for an auditor to be able to analyze large quantities of data and draw meaningful conclusions," he said. "Given the increased computing power and availability of many data analysis software to auditors, more assurance is now expected from auditors than ever before.”
Chinyama will begin his auditing career with Elliott Davis in Greenville after graduation. He interned with the company his junior year of undergraduate, and they offered him a full-time job to begin once he finished his master’s.
While Chinyama does not plan to return to Zimbabwe immediately after graduation, he hopes to one day help improve access to micro-finance for small-scale entrepreneurs at the bottom of the economic pyramid there.
“Zimbabwe currently has a relatively high unemployment rate as compared to other countries of the world,” Chinyama said. “Nevertheless, there are a lot of people in Zimbabwe who are very entrepreneurial but fail to reach their full potential due to lack of access to capital. Access to micro-finance, coupled with improved ease of doing business, will most likely help reduce unemployment while empowering people to explore their entrepreneurial talents and skills.”
International MBA graduate balances Moore School course load, trip abroad with being first-time dad
International MBA graduate Mihai Scrobotovici managed a rigorous Darla Moore School of Business course load and time abroad while being a father to a newborn son.
Originally from Iași, Romania, Scrobotovici and his wife, Elizabeth, had their son, Michael, a month before he began the IMBA program.
He said while his wife has been the stay-at-home parent while he's been in school, “it still takes a village” to raise a child.
“Being in school has been a blessing in disguise because it has afforded me the schedule flexibility to spend a lot of time with him,” Scrobotovici said.
Before coming to the Moore School, Scrobotovici completed his undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
He specialized in finance and the German track in the IMBA program and earned a Business Analytics Certificate. Scrobotovici spent part of the spring 2019 semester studying in Germany as part of the program.
“I wanted to get an internationally focused MBA and wanted to learn a new language, particularly German, which had been on my list for some years,” Scrobotovici said. “My favorite activity was the opportunity to learn German in Germany, by far. I wanted to fully immerse abroad to better learn the language and the culture. I wish the immersion had lasted longer.”
Scrobotovici’s wife and son traveled with him to Germany, and he said while it wasn’t easy, it was rewarding.
“When we went to Germany, we did it with the question in mind, ‘Would we like living there?’” Scrobotovici said. “Because we had planned to move to Europe someday. We felt like being on HGTV’s House Hunters International. Being there helped us better understand where in Europe we would and where we would not like to live.”
Scrobotovici discovered a new passion beyond German while in the program.
After an internship with Nissan in Franklin, Tennessee, last summer, Scrobotovici discovered he would like to work in the automotive industry in the future.
“Car companies are trying to redefine themselves as tech companies, which presents great entry opportunities for tech enthusiasts like me,” he said.
Scrobotovici’s next endeavor is attending the rotational leadership development program at Henkel in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
He hopes to someday work in a customer experience department or as a quality control manager.
“I care about customers’ experiences, and I believe companies should prioritize high quality over cost savings,” Scrobotovici said.
Moore School IMBA graduate extends time abroad, gains valuable networking experience
Anzhi Yu made the most of her experience in the Darla Moore School of Business’ International MBA program.
Yu — originally from Guangdong, China, and who has a bachelor’s in Portuguese studies from Macau, China — prolonged her IMBA program to three years so she could spend an entire year in Tokyo, Japan.
“The experience in Japan was worth it,” said Yu, who chose the operations and supply chain track and obtained the Business Analytics Certificate. “The one year spent in Japan was not that hectic, but it gave me more flexibility to do what I wanted.”
During her time abroad, Yu also got to network with a variety of Moore School alumni.
“The experience in Japan also provided me opportunities to meet Moore School alumni who are excelling themselves in different industries internationally,” she said. “I was so glad to see folks who graduated from the Moore School 10 to 30 years ago who are still in touch with each other and with the school.”
In the U.S. and at the Moore School, Yu found even more connections to enrich her understanding of American business culture.
Yu interned with UPS Supply Chain Solutions summer 2018 in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“My experience in UPS Supply Chain Solutions was great and provided me good stories to share during my full-time job interviews,” she said. “Interning is also a great opportunity for international students to experience working at an American firm before graduation.”
While in the IMBA program, she said she was given multiple opportunities to network with professionals from a range of industries and to visit larger corporations’ regional facilities. She particularly enjoyed visiting the Boeing aerospace assembly and delivery facility in Charleston.
Yu also got hands-on experience with the Continental Tire’s project for sea freight process cycle time optimization in fall 2018.
“For that project, I conducted data analysis for the inbound and outbound process and teamed with my classmate to find out possible solutions to reduce accessorial charges for the company,” she said.
Yu will join an international company in their Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, office as a joint venture project manager after graduation.