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John Lagonigro

Program: Evening
Graduation: 2008
Current title/organization: Sr. Manager, Team Analytics and Research, Cisco

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Q: Why did you choose the NC State Jenkins MBA program for your graduate education?

A: I wanted to go to a competitive business school that was local, so I could attend in person. I loved the Jenkins part-time RTP option as it allowed me to attend in-person and network with other professionals that work in RTP.

Q: How did your experience in the program contribute to your professional achievements and successes?

A: The Jenkins MBA gave me business and leadership acumen that helped me be a better business leader. Before graduating I assumed a leadership role at my company, and since graduating I moved into senior leadership and have always been able to understand and set strategy for my team, balance innovation and operational efficiency, and adapt in a changing competitive world.

Q: What did you enjoy most about your time in the Jenkins MBA program?

A: The three best things about the Jenkins MBA were the instructors, my fellow students, and the facilities. The instructors were knowledgable and challenging, the students were ambitious and friendly, and facilities were professional, supportive, and convenient.

Q: What are a few of the most impactful classes/lessons you learned during your time at NC State?

A: Organizational Behavior, a first semester class, taught lessons in psychology and human behavior that I still use a leader today. The Innovation class was instrumental on understanding what innovation is, where it comes from, and how to ensure adoption of new ideas. Data Analysis is a crucial skillset, and this class helps you sift through data to answer important questions. Strategy formulation was great for understanding how to devise and execute a strategy to be successful, Project Management was great for understanding how to plan and manage a project while being as efficient as possible, Supply Chain helps you understand how to manage inventory, and Services Management gave me practical experience to apply new consulting skills in a real world business practicum project where our group worked with the 10,000 villages retail store to make important decisions regarding relocating their Cameron Village store and optimizing their retail sales.

Q: What advice do you have for prospective Jenkins MBA students?

A: Keep developing yourself by identifying areas you want to get better in and then invest the time to improve yourself. Stay in-tune to what changes you see in the world as these will be opportunities you can take advantage of. Never stop learning and never stop trying to make your organization or yourself better.

Q: What advice would you give for prospective and current students who are interested in your industry/profession?

A: The MBA program at NC State is fantastic. Great instructors guide you and a bright group of colleagues through challenging material that will make you a business leader. There may be some late nights but the experience is worth it and in addition to a sense of accomplishment once you graduate, you will have a foundation of business understanding that will accelerate your career.

Q: Could you give a brief explanation of your current line of work, and what has led you to it?

A: I lead a Data Analytics and Research team within Human Resources at Cisco. We are uncovering how we create more teams like our best teams to maximize the experience and productivity of all employees through great leadership. Before this role, my entire career had been in training design and development which ultimately led to leadership roles overseeing a training development organization. When I was ready for a career change, I realized I had always been drawn to data and as I learned more about it I realized it was a great fit for my strengths. Always one to enjoy doing something new, I advanced my knowledge of data science and analytics and have once again risen to a leadership role in this new field. My Jenkins MBA has certainly help me repeatedly move into a leadership role, as well as identify where I can add value to an organization.

Q: What do you believe is your most interesting accomplishment since graduation?

A: My best accomplishment since graduation has been having my team and I’s work published and cited in our Senior Vice President’s book: “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World” by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. In addition to our research and findings being references throughout the book, we are also listed as contributors to Appendix B: “7 Things We Know For Sure at Cisco”.

Q: What are your goals and plans for the future?

A: I want to continue leading a data analytics and research team that can cut through all the data and information available today to uncover truth and lead to better decisions and business outcomes. I am also intently focused on automation and using technology to speed up and customize intelligence gathering and distribution so that anyone that needs information has it readily available in a consumable format that decreases the chance of information overload, a real challenge in today’s environment.