“A long, intense, and exciting journey.” That is how Brian Pezzulo, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and student in the NC State Jenkins MBA program, describes his path from military career to college curriculum.
Pezzulo is one of about 170 military affiliated students enrolled in Poole College, and one of about 700 across the various academic degree programs at NC State University.
Following eight years of service with the United States Marine Corps, Pezzulo began his academic career. He first earned an associate’s degree from Wake Technical Community College, then his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the NC State Poole College of Management, and now is working toward his MBA degree in the college’s Jenkins MBA program.
Pezzulo was a sergeant while in the Marine Corps, working in logistics and diplomatic security. “I have served throughout the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. As the head of Marine Security for the American Embassy Barbados, I was responsible for ensuring the safety and providing protection for U.S. diplomats, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” he said.
“I decided to pursue a master’s degree from the NC State Jenkins Graduate School of Management to bridge my current skills set with my future goals. The Marine Corps provided a foundation project management and leadership that a business education could expand on,” Pezzulo said.
He said he decided to get a bachelor’s in accounting “because it is a vital component of business and understanding the financial aspects would help me manage the business side more effectively.”
As an undergraduate student, he completed a Supply Chain Practicum project with the company Biogen. “Like most veterans, I thought supply chain was solely logistics. The practicum helped me realize that supply chain was more analytical, data driven, negotiations, and strategy based.
“I knew I wanted to learn more about supply chain and NC State was rated a top five best value public university and is in the top 20 for Supply Chain graduate program. The NC State Jenkins MBA program has a reputation for excellence, and that is something I strive for in my daily life,” he said.
In addition to supply chain management, Pezzulo is also completing a second concentration, in marketing. “I am also working on a decision analytics and SAP certifications. The Jenkins program provides a real-world learning environment that focuses in supply chain, technology, and analytics,” he said.
The academic rigor complements his prior military experience. “As a veteran, I have been trained to lead. What I needed was the real-world civilian experience and business knowledge. Poole’s course content and hands-on approach has given me experiences I never gained in the military,” he said.
“The military and academia require strategic knowledge, discipline, attention to detail, and collaboration to be successful. Skills acquired during my time at NC State have added an incredible value and have help develop me into a better leader. I look forward to using my experiences in the Marine Corps and at NC State to transition into management consulting,” he said.
His experience reflects the university’s designation as a Top 10 School by the organization Military Friendly.
“NC State has provided me with great resources to succeed as a student and a civilian,” he said, citing several of the resources he has tapped as a student.
“The Military and Veteran Services Center has been a key resource I have used throughout my undergrad and graduate studies. The Student Veterans Association is an outstanding network that has connected me with veterans from all branches. And the Military and Veterans Education Office is a top notch resource that actively helps in your transition to NC State. They are the liaison to the VA to ensure your benefits and certification are taken care of so that you can focus of your studies,” he said.
“My cohort in the MBA program has been a tremendous resource,” he added, noting that 20 percent of those students are veterans or active duty military. “Together, we help inspire and guide each other through the rigors of the program,” he said.
“The professors at NC State are a great resource as well. They understand the challenges and struggles that come with being a non-traditional student. They have a vested interest in my success. I have met with several professors outside of class for help, both academically as well as career advice. I would struggle to succeed without the strong support of my wife, children, friends, professor, and other veterans,” he said.
Pezzulo currently is working as a research analyst for Bear Ventures, focusing on product development and strategy. “I want to build on my foundation and move into consulting and strategic operations. I intend to land an internship in consulting, operations, or procurement,” he said, adding that his post-graduation goal is to join Deloitte as a management consultant.”