Get to Know the Newest Graduate Students at Poole College
This August, Poole College of Management welcomed a new batch of students into the Jenkins MBA program, Jenkins MAC program, Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA) program and Master of Management, Risk and Analytics (MRA) program.
Hailing from diverse backgrounds, from Ghana to Arizona, the students bring a breadth of personal and professional experience to the college – including experience in risk management, sports marketing, e-commerce, theater, healthcare, IT and accounting. Attracting underrepresented minority students, students with military experience and more, the programs allow students to encounter new perspectives in the classroom and gain a broader, more strategic mindset for today’s global marketplace.
Jenkins MBA Program
Student Spotlight: David Afeke
From: Ghana, West Africa
Undergraduate institution: University of Ghana
Undergraduate area of study: Biomedical Engineering
MBA program format: Full-Time
With five years of professional experience in healthcare, tech and e-commerce, David Afeke first developed a passion for data-driven decision-making while working as a commercial planning analyst for a startup company. Later, while working in performance and planning for Jumia, a New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) listed company, Afeke recognized a growing desire to leverage data insights to influence business decisions at a senior level. He turned to the Jenkins MBA program to supplement his technical skills with a broader, more robust foundation in business.
“Engaging with C-suite executives made me realize I needed an MBA to fill gaps in business management, global strategy and leadership so I can lead industry change through data,” Afeke explains. “I was looking for an MBA program that combined analytics with strategy, business and leadership; the Jenkins MBA program ticked these boxes for me. Also, the director of the program was very responsive and demonstrated the support I envisioned in a small class size and tight-knit community.”
Afeke looks forward to strengthening his communication and leadership skills, expanding his network and enhancing his global business acumen in the program – and hopes to transition into consulting and product management for a tech or consulting firm post-graduation.
Student Spotlight: Wesley Lo
From: Cary, NC
Undergraduate institution: NC State University
Undergraduate area of study: Business Administration
MBA program format: Online
Wesley Lo currently serves as the third-party risk program manager for NetApp, a cloud computer and data storage company. Prior to joining NetApp, he spent seven years with First Citizens Bank working in third-party risk management and governance, risk, compliance technology.
A curious and strategic thinker, Lo is passionate about understanding the motivations and considerations driving strategic decision-making – which led him to the MBA program at NC State. Being an NC State alum, seeing the diverse network of students at Poole College and recognizing the opportunities to build a strong local network made the Jenkins MBA an easy choice.
Through the program, Lo hopes to expand his business acumen and strengthen his analytics skills in order to succeed in managerial roles – and he is eager to apply lessons learned in real-time in his role at NetApp. Down the road, he hopes to take on greater leadership responsibilities and play an integral role in building out risk programs.
“Risk management remains a new topic in many fields. While I could gain many of the skills to build the program through practical work experience, earning an MBA will allow me to be at the forefront of my field and aware of innovative processes and trends. Perhaps most importantly, I can gain valuable skills and strategies to develop organizational buy-in,” Lo says.
Jenkins Master of Accounting (MAC) Program
Student Spotlight: Sophia Gutman
From: Phoenix, AZ
Undergraduate institution: University of Arizona
Undergraduate area of study: Accounting (major), Spanish (minor)
MAC program format: On-campus
Raised in Arizona, Sophia Gutman earned her undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Arizona – and spent several summer breaks working as a camp counselor for Shemesh Camp at Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Campus, where she led camp programming for kindergarteners and strengthened valuable time management and problem-solving skills.
After graduation, she completed an internship in audit at Deloitte in Phoenix – and then left her home state to make her way to Raleigh, North Carolina for the Jenkins MAC program. For Gutman, the Jenkins MAC program was an opportunity to further her education, gain an in-depth learning experience and step out of her comfort zone in Arizona to try something new.
“I decided to come to NC State specifically because it was clear that it was the program that would support me the most in achieving my future goals, both career-related and CPA-related. The campus is also undeniably beautiful. Finally, I was offered a teaching assistant position, which is also a great opportunity,” Gutman says.
She looks forward to learning new tools and techniques in the Jenkins MAC program that she can apply to her full-time role at Deloitte Phoenix’s audit practice starting in the fall of 2024.
Student Spotlight: Alexis Avalos
From: Salisbury, NC
Undergraduate institution: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Undergraduate area of study: Accounting
MAC program format: Online
For Alexis Avalos, the Jenkins MAC program was an opportunity to learn valuable technical and leadership skills for her career – and a step forward in her goal to make an impact in the business world.
“I am inspired by all the Latinx/Hispanic women who are paving the way in the business industry. The MAC program is part of my journey to achieve my dream of becoming a CPA and I hope to also inspire many others looking to pursue an accounting career,” Avalos says. “I knew I was looking for a program that had a supportive community and opportunities to stay involved even as an online student, and the MAC program checked all those boxes.”
Post-graduation, Avalos will join Grant Thornton as an audit associate in the Charlotte office, where she completed two audit internships in the summer of 2022 and the winter semester of 2023. She also looks forward to training for and running a half-marathon.
Master of Management, Marketing Analytics (MMA)
Student Spotlight: Riley Berrier
From: High Point, NC
Undergraduate institution: NC State University
Undergraduate area of study: Communication, Public Relations
With three years of marketing and public relations experience – from sports marketing and public relations agencies to in-house digital and product marketing teams at two manufacturing companies – Riley Berrier has learned to craft effective messages for clients in a variety of industries. Today, she works as a product marketing specialist for a textile manufacturer, where she focuses on branding and messaging for the company’s key product offerings.
These varied experiences have not only fueled Berrier’s passion for storytelling, but have also revealed the gap between data and storytelling. Hoping to complement her communication skills with stronger analytics skills in order to help businesses solve complex marketing problems, and being an NC State alumna, she turned to the MMA program at Poole College of Management.
“I strongly believe good data analysts also have to be great storytellers so that they effectively communicate what the data means, why it’s important and what the next steps are. My hope is that the MMA program will provide me with a better understanding of the modern data analysis techniques and software programs used today,” Berrier says.
With interests in supply chain analytics and business analytics in the e-commerce space, Berries hopes to work as an analyst focused on online performance and product launch strategy, or inventory management and operations solutions, in the future.
Master of Management, Risk and Analytics (MRA)
Student Spotlight: Jose Sambade
From: New Jersey
Undergraduate institution: University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Undergraduate area of study: Fine Arts
Born and raised in New Jersey, Jose Sambade first came to North Carolina to earn a bachelor’s degree – and has been in and out of the state ever since. After graduating, he built and engineered scenery for theater, television and commercial installations and worked backstage in theaters on the East Coast. A few years in, he switched gears and enlisted in the Marine Corps, where he supported IT infrastructure. After leaving the service, he continued working in IT in the corporate world, and then transitioned to database administration, where he has spent the last 20 years of his career.
Hoping to gain a deeper understanding of how business users leverage data to drive decisions, Sambade turned to NC State. He attended an information session about the Business Analytics graduate certificate, learned about the MRA program and decided to apply. He looks forward to developing risk management skills, working on a real-world problem in the practicum course and becoming a more effective leader in data management.
“The pace at which data is growing and evolving means leaders need skill sets that help them use data effectively. Understanding that risk isn’t just about ‘playing defense’ but also about looking for opportunities and disruptions goes hand-in-hand with how leveraging data has become vital to the success of many companies,” he says.
This post was originally published in Jenkins MBA News.