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Marcus Rountree, ‘12, Senior Manager of Product Management at McDonald’s 

Get to know Marcus

Current role: Senior manager of product management for transformation at McDonalds 
Current field: Technology 
Current industry: Food and beverage 
Current location: Charlotte, North Carolina 

Program start date: August 2010
Graduation date: May 2012
Program format: Full-Time; concentration in marketing

Life before Jenkins

Undergraduate studies: North Carolina Central University, B.S. in Environmental Science 
Pre-program work experience: 2 years 
Pre-program role: Middle school science teacher
Pre-program industry: Education

Why an MBA?

As a first-generation college graduate eager to inspire and invest in the next generation, Rountree taught science and coached basketball at Oberlin Middle School in Raleigh, NC, for two years before deciding to pursue his dream: getting a master’s degree. Passionate about leadership development, entrepreneurship and helping others identify strategic growth areas, he saw the MBA as an opportunity to enhance his natural skill set, broaden his career opportunities and maximize his earning potential. 

Why Jenkins?

After one visit to NC State, Rountree was sold. “Around the time I started researching different programs, my younger cousin was trying to decide which college to go to and said, ‘Hey Marcus, can you take me to NC State for their career day?’ So I took her and while they were welcoming everyone to the event, the director said, ‘We also have a wonderful MBA program,’” Rountree remembers. “The thing that really grabbed me about the Jenkins MBA program was the hands-on experience. Other MBA programs focus a lot on theory, but the Jenkins MBA program provided opportunities to work with local businesses and do case studies and projects with industry and community partners.”

What made it great

Rountree not only appreciated the ways in which the MBA program expanded his business acumen through hands-on curriculum, but the opportunities it created to grow as a leader. Learning the building blocks of strategy with Steven Allen and the principles of public speaking with Bart Queen prepared Rountree to lead more effective teams and create competitive advantages in business, while studying abroad in Prague gave him exposure to a different culture. “Being in Prague was a pivotal moment for me, and now that I’m in a global role at McDonald’s, I see how it’s helped me take my leadership to the next level. Because I lived abroad for a brief period of time, I’m more sensitive to some of the different needs and challenges in specific markets.”

Most important of all, Rountree says, taking advantage of career coaching in the Poole Career Center helped him communicate his personal value proposition. “As a career switcher, it was really important for me to learn how to present myself and tell my career story – that I wasn’t just a teacher, but a business leader with strong skills in communication, collaboration and coaching,” Rountree explains. “The resources at the Jenkins MBA program helped me make that pivot and break into the technology industry.”

Career impact 

After graduating with his MBA, Rountree landed a job at Lowe’s as a product marketing specialist. From there, his career took off – taking him to Amazon, Nordstrom and now McDonald’s, where he serves as senior manager of product management for transformation. In his role, Rountree identifies opportunities to integrate technology to improve the owner-operator and crew experiences, and position the restaurant chain for long-term success. “It’s all about looking at technology as the lever to pull to take this global company into the future and doing something even bigger than what we’ve already done. Whenever someone asks me how my job’s going, I always say, ‘I’m Lovin It.’ It’s the cheesiest line ever, but I’m so sincere about it,”  Rountree says.

“When I think about this journey I’ve been on – from that small middle school gym in Raleigh to the biggest fast-food restaurant company in the world – I realize just how transformative the Jenkins MBA program has been for me,” Rountree continues. “My income is 10 times what it was when I was a teacher, and it’s all because of how many doors the Jenkins MBA program opened. And the ROI of the program just keeps going up.”

Final thoughts

In addition to creating content and career coaching, Rountree serves as a board member for BLK Men in Tech, an organization focused on increasing access and inclusion for Black men and women in the technology industry, “It’s an incredible organization and I regularly look for more ways to partner with Poole College of Management. There’s so many young people of color who want to get into the technology space, and we really want to demystify it and say, ‘Here’s the play,’” Rountree explains. “So when we prepared for our THRIVE 2023 conference, I reached out to Tayah Butler – a huge advocate – about getting some students from Poole College there to experience it. It was a great weekend with them and it’s been amazing to see them get internships and stay connected. Again, it’s all about that connectivity.” 

Get in touch

Connect with Marcus on LinkedIn

Learn more

To learn more about the Jenkins MBA program, including tuition, curriculum, career opportunities and more, please submit the form below. 

This post was originally published in Jenkins MBA News.