Poole Graduation Spotlight: James Cerone

For most public accountants, the first quarter of the year is filled with many late nights and weekends spent in the office. So when he started the Jenkins Professional Evening MBA program, James Cerone, a financial analyst with local accounting firm Thomas, Judy and Tucker, was concerned about how the two would fit together.

“My initial fear before starting the program was how I would be able to start taking classes in the evening and weekends without it hindering my performance at work,” Cerone remembers. “Fortunately, this was a short-lived fear because I found that I was able to quickly get into a productive routine at work while still going to class and completing all my projects and assignments.”

Cerone graduated from NC State’s Poole College of Management with a degree in accounting and concentration in finance in 2013. When deciding to further his knowledge in financial analysis and leadership, he felt NC State’s MBA program provided a great return-on-investment. Not only that, “NC State’s ‘Think and Do’ mantra was exactly what I was looking for in an MBA program,” Cerone says.

Looking back, one of the biggest lessons he learned during his time with the program was the willingness to pivot and adjust initial plans. 

“When I was looking for MBA programs, I initially wanted to focus solely on financial analysis for my concentration so I could eventually make a transition from accounting into finance. However, during my first semester, we had to take “Raleigh Residency I” which focused on leadership and leading teams. I really enjoyed this class, which caused me to take additional leadership classes,” he says.

Cerone applied for and was ultimately selected as a Professional MBA Delegate and McLauchlan Leadership Fellow, providing him additional opportunities to continue developing his leadership skills – skills that he hopes he’ll be able to use to serve his clients in their businesses. For future Professional Evening MBA students, Cerone encourages staying on track with your course work and establishing a routine early on, while leaving time to network. 

“We all have extremely busy lives, especially the professional evening students, but try to make time to attend networking or social events to meet others,” Cerone says. “This is something that I tried to do as much as I could and feel it was worth it.”

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