Leading the Pack: Zachary Venning
Zachary Venning is a 2020 Jenkins MBA alumnus. During his time in the Jenkins MBA program, Venning was still an active duty member of U.S. Army and says that the program allowed him the flexibility to continue his education regardless of where he might be in the world.
In the following Q & A, Venning goes into more detail about why he chose NC State, advice for prospective students, and how his military background led him to his current career path.
Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?
A: I was still active duty at the time and was looking at a program that was flexible enough for me to continue my education regardless of where I might be in the world. However, I also wanted the opportunity to attend class on campus when I was home. The veteran friendly environment together with the understanding the professors had made my time here an unforgettable experience.
Q: How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?
A: The program significantly increased my business acumen, which was needed for the direction I was going in terms of career change. Of the different successes a few really stuck out to me. I noticed the dynamics of conversations changing during networking events as I began to have deeper understandings of business topics. In my previous role, I would meet with business owners in South-East Asia and discuss possible collaboration on projects. Being able to understand their business model allowed me to identify whether the company would be a good fit.
Q: How did you become interested in your field?
A: For the past seven years I worked in Psychological Operations which has a very larger behavioral component and relies heavily on relationship building. Prior to starting my MBA, I met an individual that worked in a client facing role within the finance industry. The discussion we had really drove me to look further into finance and roads to get there. It was at that moment I decided I would pursue an MBA with a finance concentration. That then led to my investment banking internship, fellowships (McLauchlin Leadership Fellow & Special Operators Transition Foundation Fellow), and hire at my current firm.
Q: What advice would you give for prospective and current students who are interested in your industry/profession?
A: My mother used to tell me,” Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. It is true and it has stuck with me ever since. I would like to pass that same advice on. Establishing a network early on can be especially important later down the line. Also, don’t be afraid of asking your professors about a specific industry especially if they have the background. I think that is an extremely valuable resource.
Q: What is your current line of work and how has COVID-19 impacted it? How the MBA has helped prepare you navigate during these times?
A: I currently work in the wealth management field at our home office location in New York as part of the Virtual Engagement Associate program. In the fast paced world of finance, having a solid foundation makes it less time consuming for my manager, as he teaches me the business. Which then translates to me being able to provide valued input. I feel like this is especially important during a time where everything is in a virtual environment and learning the job requires excellent managers to teach you as well as knowing where to find additional resources.