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Steven LaClair

Program: Online
Graduation: 2017
Current title/organization: Solutions Architect РPrisma Cloud, Palo Alto Networks

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

A: I chose NC State due to being a local school with a reputable program that provided flexible delivery options. In addition, being military-friendly and having a technology-focused curriculum were great benefits too.

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

A:  I came from a IT/software background and was struggling to climb out of those low-level/hands on the keyboard type of roles. I wanted to get closer to the business and leverage technical expertise; however, I kept falling short when it came down to the finish line at interviews. I decided to go the MBA route as I really wanted to boost my business acumen and round myself out professionally. It turned out to be the correct move.

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

A: I truly enjoyed the entire process. Due to its flexibility, I was able to stretch it out over 36 months, not overload myself and look to get the most from each course. If I had to pick something that stands out, the trips overseas may be the highlight. I got to take the innovation trip to Munich and met with so many great companies (BMW, Siemens, GE, Red hat, etc) and the first art of negotiation course in Nice, France where we got to pair up with international business school counterparts and really dive into negotiation and navigating various cultures.

Q: What do you miss most now that you have graduated?

A: I miss the constant “ah-ha” lightbulb moments that came on every day which I could apply to my job. The value of the program was recognized from the starting day, each week provided continuous improvement. It really made me enjoy the entire process and want to take my time and get the most out of it.

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

A: Finance and Accounting, completely out of my traditional area of expertise but those two courses really brought on huge language and thinking shifts necessary to go to the next level as I moved from Consulting to Sales.

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

A: Enjoy the process and don’t rush through the program. Your personal growth begins from day one. Take advantage of everything that is offered; networking events, career counseling, etc.

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

A: I work in technical sales to enterprise accounts for a Fortune Future 50 company. I started on the consulting side of the house years ago as I understood the technology itself at the deepest levels but was having a diacult time transitioning to a sales role; the MBA program provided the edge I needed to translate technical capabilities to business value. Understanding how to interpret financial statements, combing through 10k’s, forecasting, navigating complex contracting and/or procurement requests are invaluable skills to have in a sales environment.