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Clemson MBA

MBA Alumni Stories

Be sure to read our MBA Alumni stories and what they have to say about the program and their careers.

Entrepreneurship Stories

  • Theresa Childs
    Theresa Childs, Fabricate Studios

    B.S. ’03, MBA ’16 - Part-Time MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    Theresa Childs, owner of Fabricate Studios in Atlanta, came to the MBAe program already very familiar with the value of a Clemson education. She received a degree in graphic communications as an undergrad at Clemson before joining the advertising and communications field. After leaving agency life and working for large nonprofits, she found a home with Rollins, Inc., a billion-dollar home services holding company based in Atlanta, in marketing and brand management. While her professional life certainly kept her busy, Theresa had the itch to continue her education as well.

    After initially researching several programs closer to her home base of Atlanta, she received information about the Clemson MBAe program. When she decided to go back to school to pursue an MBA, the on-campus weekend intensives offered by the MBAe program offered the opportunity to balance her commitments with weekly class work that had previously proved elusive. This offered the perfect opportunity to take her professional development to the next level, as she continued to grow her business.

    "I started teaching sewing and hand embroidery as a hobby in 2007; I loved the craft community and formed some of the most amazing friendships," said Theresa. "In 2013 the opportunity to open my own studio presented itself and I jumped at the chance to work for myself while fostering this community that I love so dearly." Continuing to foster this community has been made easier due to the courses offered in the MBAe program. Since joining the program, Theresa has taken courses such as marketing, sales, corporate venturing, and social entrepreneurship. Each course has been a key building block towards helping her business continue to thrive and grow as she applies the knowledge from the classroom to the real world.

    "The people that are part of this program (both students and faculty) are incredibly motivating. In theory, the on-campus weekends would be tiring after a long week of work but they are quite the opposite -- I leave inspired and energized in ways I never imagined. Each weekend I leave with new ideas and motivation to push myself further with the business," said Theresa.

    Theresa is another in a long line of examples of how rewarding the Clemson MBA experience can be. It will be hard work, but the connections you will make personally and professionally, as well as the practical knowledge, make it an invigorating and worthwhile prospect for anyone with a drive to better their careers or themselves.

  • Riley Csernica
    Riley Csernica, Tarian Orthotics

    B.S. ’12, M.S. ’13, MBA ’13 - Full-time MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    Riley Csernica is something of a Clemson wunderkind, having earned three separate Clemson degrees in the space of five years. She is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur who runs Tarian Orthotics, a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based medical device company she co-founded in 2013.

    While earning her bachelor's in bioengineering, Riley served as one of the six co-inventors of the Tarian Shoulder Stabilizer, which began as a class project. After graduation, she decided to work alongside co-inventor and former classmate Chelsea Ex-Lubeskie to co-found a company to commercialize the device. At the time, their idea of the Tarian pro Shoulder Stabilizer was nothing more than a crudely designed prototype. However, after working alongside athletic trainers and with orthopedic surgeons and their patients, Riley and Chelsea uncovered an effective and revolutionary design that was unlike anything on the market.

    Riley decided to enroll in Clemson's MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation program to gain the business knowledge needed to effectively launch and run the company. Before the end of the program, she had applied for and earned a $50,000 National Science Foundation grant which they used to help prototype and test the device, and also successfully applied for patent status. Currently, the company sells its shoulder brace to professional and amateur athletes across the country. The success of the shoulder brace has allowed them to focus on R&D for other devices, and Tarian is currently developing a unique, 3-D printed ankle brace that will launch soon.

  • Matt Given
    Featured alumnus: Matt Given

    MBA ’93 - MBA Corporate
    CEO at Intelivideo
    Columnist at Inc. Magazine

    By Tracy McGee

    Matt Given graduated from Clemson University with his Bachelor of Science in Marketing in 1992, then with his Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 1993. Like many of us, Matt did not have a clear path in mind when he struck out after school, but with his "go and get it" attitude, he's been able to find success wherever life takes him.

    After graduating with his MBA, Matt moved to Washington D.C. and took on a position in an ad agency. Six months later, he visited a friend in Colorado and decided to move. He spent the remainder of the ski season living on that friend's couch before taking a job with ski patrol in Steamboat Springs, where he remained for 5 years.

    In 1999, Matt moved to Denver to work for a credit card processing company. He ended up starting his own company, which, through a series of mergers, became Heartland Payment Systems, going public in 2004. He left Heartland to start the consulting firm Silver Line Business Systems. Silver Line consulted with banks looking for non-interest methods of income, providing payment products and services. The company had reached about 40 employees in 2008 when Matt decided to sell.

    At that point, Matt began consulting on his own while also writing and angel investing in some start-up companies. He has investments in a handful of start-ups, including four that belong to Clemson graduates. As of 2015, he is the CEO of Intelivideo - one of those investments - and also writes for Inc. Magazine. With 25 years of experience in entrepreneurship, his winding path has led to many great accomplishments.

    Why did you decide to get your MBA?
    I was helping a professor work on a project my senior year and was unsure what I'd be doing after graduation. The project wouldn't be done when I graduated, and my professor suggested I stay and get an MBA while helping finish it up. He walked me down to the dean's office. The dean pulled up my records and looked through them for a few minutes, and I was accepted into the program.

    What was your favorite class in the program? Why?
    It would have to be the marketing research and strategy course Dr. Pickett taught. I like to joke that all these years later I'm still his favorite student!

    What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
    "The endurance of the grind" is something I'm proud of. I have been able to fail and fail and fail and fail and fail - only to learn from that failure, come back, and get better next time.

    Plus, it's really cool to see my name published on Inc. Magazine.

    Oh, I also took 2 years to really pursue triathlons and was able to make it to the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

    Can you describe how you maintain a work-life balance?
    You have to make time for the things that are important. I'm usually up at 4:30 a.m. every day to get a run in or to write 1,000 words. I always make time. But there are times professionally where you have to make sacrifices and go get it. Right now, I'm the CEO of a start-up, and it's crucial that I get after it every day. The balance is not a constant straight line between work and life; you have to be ready and willing to make those sacrifices. Sometimes I have to get buy-in from my family and explain that this has to be done right now. I might work extra hours for a few long months, but then I might be able to take the boys to school for a few months after that. I use the analogy of military deployment. When deployed, they have no choice but to do their job, and as an entrepreneur, sometimes there really is no choice.

    How do you maintain a balance between your job as a CEO and as a writer?
    I write 1,000 words at least 2 days a week, which generates about 6 articles a month. I have an Evernote account with ideas, and ever since I started writing, I notice things that I didn't before as potential content for my articles. All of the content comes from my own ideas, unlike some publications that assign their writers topics. Some weeks I have to sacrifice my morning run to make time to write, but it goes back to recognizing that sacrifices have to be made.

    What piece of advice would you give to our current/future students?

    1. Humility needs to be your instinct; it is a required trait for leaders. Owning mistakes and shortfalls, while giving away credit for wins, is one way to begin to set your natural default to humble. Mistakes are a massive win, and you should make (and own) lots of them. They show you have pushed yourself to the limits of your capabilities and give you an opportunity to show humility to those around you.
    2. Work ethic is essential for building the professional you. Some workers new to the workforce simply do not yet understand the grind it takes to achieve the level of success they claim to want. There are stretches in your life when you have to get after it, and I mean a year, or more, not a week here and there. Commit fully to building the professional you. Put in the time. You'll get there.
    3. Patience is key because career "progress" is usually slow. You are where you are. Take this time to bank experiences that will play a part in your development as a professional and as a leader. Focus on your developmental path, and the paycheck follows nearly every time.

    For more advice from Matt, you can visit one of his more popular articles, When My Employees Ask Me for a Raise I Always Tell Them This.

    What is your favorite quote?
    My sons would say it's "Doing hard things makes you stronger."

    "Discipline is the ability to choose to sacrifice something you want now for something you want more later."

    What is your favorite Clemson MBA memory?
    While I have a lot of great memories about my time at Clemson, I didn't get to come back for close to 20 years. The coolest thing for me now is to see how far Clemson has come. When I was in the MBA program, we were in a worn-out classroom in Daniel, and now it's in downtown Greenville. It's cool to see the growth and changes.

    Matt loves to support fellow tigers! Anyone looking for a little advice, remember there is humility in asking, and with an alumni network as strong as ours, all you have to do is reach out.

  • Harold Hughes
    Harold Hughes, MBA, CEO of Bandwagon

    B.A. ’08, MBA ’14 - Part-Time Traditional Program
    Current position: Founder and C.E.O. BANDWAGON™

    No one appreciates the world of college sports and understands the fans who support their teams unconditionally, quite like Harold Hughes. The devoted Clemson Tiger fanatic has taken sports loyalty to the next level, melding entrepreneurial enthusiasm with a pure love of the game. Hughes recently launched BANDWAGON, an online secondary ticket marketplace that allows fans to buy, sell and trade tickets to sporting events, with an emphasis on college games.

    Hughes said the idea for BANDWAGON has its roots at Clemson. "I was talking with my Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers about our bucket list of historic football stadiums to visit," said Hughes. The Clemson season ticket holders wondered what they'd do with their Clemson tickets while road-tripping. "This led to a discussion about a ticket trading network," Hughes said.

    When Hughes assessed his secondary ticket marketplace competitors, he realized the $15 billion industry lacked niche markets. He set his sights on the collegiate sports market and launched BANDWAGON on September 1, 2015. In less than two months, BANDWAGON has gained hundreds of users, made thousands of dollars, attracted the attention of investors and opened the doors in markets as far-flung from Clemson as Eastern Washington and Notre Dame.

  • Allison Pickett
    Allison Pickett

    B.S. ’13, MBA ’14 - MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    Allison Pickett joined the Clemson MBAe program after completing an undergraduate degree in business from Clemson. While job hunting during her senior year, she was intrigued by the MBA program that Clemson offered, but was unsure how to proceed since the program required work experience. She came across the MBAe program, designed for individuals who want to develop and launch their own businesses, and her life was changed forever.

    Before entering the program Allison had already come up with her own business idea, Green Tiger Studio, but was unsure where to begin in terms of launching the venture. She saw the MBAe program as a unique opportunity to earn a graduate degree while also learning the ins and outs of running a business.

    "It was the best year of my life. I was able to earn my MBA in a unique environment, and use my business as a case study," Allison says. "I also met my husband, Jake, in the program, which was an unexpected and wonderful thing."

    Throughout the year-long program, Clemson recruits entrepreneurs from the surrounding community to provide guidance and mentorship to the students. Adam Anderson, owner of local company Palmetto Security Group, was Allison's mentor in the program. When he learned she had decided against pursuing her original business idea after graduation, he offered her a chance to be the director of marketing for Palmetto, a position she filled ably for six months.

    In January of last year, Anderson asked her to be a co-founder of a cybersecurity company that identifies and minimizes vendor risk inside the enterprise supply chain. That company, Atlas Vault, launched last year. They have developed software, have a beta client and have just been accepted into the prestigious accelerator program, MergeLane.

    MergeLane, located in Boulder, Colorado, is a 12-week residency accelerator program for women-led companies. Being accepted into their program is a great honor, and is just the latest step in a journey that was kickstarted by the Clemson MBAe program.

    Allison joins a group of nine other women-led startups who were selected from more than 1,500 companies that were invited to apply, said Sue Heilbronner, MergeLane's CEO and co-founder. To be considered, a company needs to have a female co-founder or leader. MergeLane's mission of nurturing female-run companies is motivated by two factors: There are far fewer women in startups than we would expect. We believe diverse companies are stronger companies, and we want to help narrow the gap. Second, data overwhelmingly shows that venture-backed, female-run companies produce higher returns.

    What would Allison suggest to others who are considering a similar program do?
    "I would recommend Clemson number one because I bleed orange, but their MBAe program was seriously the best thing I ever did for my career," Allison said. "I met so many amazing entrepreneurs, advisors, and mentors who were so willing to help. We were able to explore the opportunities that we dreamed of through entrepreneurship. The biggest lesson I took away was how to fail. You have to be willing to fail, and get back up and go again. And be ok with it."

    Beginning February 1, Allison took residence in Boulder, taking advantage of all that MergeLane's program has to offer. She participated in demo day in April in an effort to win investment funding that can catapult Atlas Vault into the global arena.

Innovation Stories

  • Josh Doran
    Josh Doran, Clemson MBA Alumnus

    MBA Corporate, Class of ’16

    Data Scientist, VisioStack

    By Madison Hudgins

    Josh Doran is currently a Data Scientist at VisioStack, a Greenville-based company that provides data management and business intelligence services for the transportation industry. VisioStack recently landed a major Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the development of AXIS, a drone-based inspection system that will improve traffic safety at all U.S. highway-rail crossings. The DOT's goal for this project is to create a more efficient system that can inspect crossings quickly and accurately, leading to maintenance which will help to reduce incidents.

    "Thousands of incidents occur at these crossings each year, often the result of hazardous conditions," said Josh. "The AXIS system uses variables such as the change in grade at the crossing, line of sight, and warning signs to assign a risk profile to each crossing, leading to maintenance which will help to reduce incidents."

    Josh enjoys the challenge of learning new skills and has spent much of his time at VisioStack developing his coding proficiency and finding new ways to grow the business. "You don't always notice measurable improvements on a daily basis," said Josh, "but over time, the result of hard work is very rewarding."

    During Josh's time at Clemson, he played on the men's soccer team, where he learned valuable lessons about putting in the effort every day to achieve long-term goals. When he is not working on revolutionary ways to improve public safety, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, watching and playing sports, traveling, eating great food and woodworking. Josh continues to keep the ball rolling and we can't wait to see what this Clemson Tiger does next!

    How did your Clemson MBA experience shape your career path?
    The MBA program gave me valuable insight into various industries and career paths while also opening entirely new options for me with my career choice. Each class and every speaker helped me narrow my focus toward what career I wanted long-term. Rather than focusing on a single discipline, I found that I enjoyed applying concepts from each of my classes. My passion for business growth and entrepreneurship became clearer during my time in the MBA program.
    Further, the relationships that I built during my time in the program made it an easy choice when I was offered a job that required a move back to Greenville from Charlotte. The business community in Greenville is outstanding and is the type of place in which I hope to work for a long time.

    What is your favorite Clemson MBA memory?
    My favorite memory is the study abroad course I took called Global Business Transactions. During the semester we studied various aspects of international business, including mergers & acquisitions, business law and intellectual property rights. The highlight was a weeklong trip to Europe, visiting three branches of a large European law firm. In each city, we met with partners in the firm who presented incredibly valuable information and spent time answering our questions regarding international business relations and execution. It's a trip I won't forget.

    What piece of advice would you give to our current/future students?
    While you are in the program, take advantage of as many opportunities you can, whether that's being part of the MBA Student Association executive team, listening to speakers or taking part in interview sessions. There is so much that can be learned from others even if you don't think you'll follow their career path. Many of the lessons and practices applied in business are similar across industries, regardless of the specific skillsets applied in those jobs.

    Another piece of advice is not to be too focused on finding your dream job or the perfect work situation so early in your career. Chances are your true dream job may change as you gain more work experience. There is so much that can be learned from any company you work for and the situation you are currently in. You'll always be able to learn from and take those experiences with you, which will prepare you for your next step.

    What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
    I consider playing on the men's soccer team at Clemson a very big achievement for me. I first visited Clemson before my senior year of high school and instantly fell in love with the University. I was considering kicking for the football team, but soccer has always been the sport I've loved most. After my first visit, I did everything I possibly could to earn a spot on the team, and I am thankful for the time I had playing there.

    During my career, I would consider winning the U.S. DOT research grant for AXIS as my greatest accomplishment. We are the first company from South Carolina in 23 years to earn an SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grant from the U.S. DOT, and I'm very excited about the work our team is doing at VisioStack. This project aligns well with our current offerings but may also open doors for us to expand our services in the future. Our existing platform and system architecture will be leveraged to help ensure the success of this project, which will not only provide an innovative solution but will also help improve safety everywhere AXIS is used.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
    - Joshua 1:9

  • Blake Roberts
    Blake Roberts, Chick-Fil-A

    B.A., MBA ’16 - Part-Time MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    Senior Business Consultant, Southeast Region - Chick-Fil-A Corporate

    By Nadeen Qubti

    Blake Roberts holds two Clemson degrees, having received a Bachelor of Art in Architecture and a Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Roberts was part of the first cohort to attend the part-time MBAe program in 2014.

    Blake worked in Greenville, S.C., for an architectural firm, but decided to reevaluate his career after the economic downturn of 2008. What made Blake's major career shift possible is that he was always interested in the business side of design. Training within design helps shape the mind into finding creative ways of solving problems and thinking differently, these skills accompanied Blake through different roles.

    In 2011, Roberts applied to become a Chick-fil-A franchisee but was offered a role at Chick-fil-A Corporate as a corporate consultant. In this new role, Blake helped open over 100 stores in different markets, and later moved into a senior position in the southeast region. He works in innovation coaching and helps owner-operators in over 26 restaurants reach their goals. "Being able to help owner-operators achieve that next step in life is something I'm very proud of, I enjoy being close to their business and advocating for them," Blake said.

    Roberts' personal and work philosophy revolve around influencing the world in a positive way. "Samuel Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, talks about reputation and how it's hard to build but easily lost," Roberts said. "I want to be associated with people and companies that have a similar purpose to mine," he added.

    What is your favorite quote?
    "If you have enough people get what they want, you will get what you want." - Zig Ziglar

    What is the best advice you have received?
    To learn from those who came before and have done the work. Humbly look at what they've created over time and evaluate what you need to take away from it. Make sure you have answers in two categories: things to take and things to not do again.

    Why did you choose to attend the Clemson MBA Program?
    I knew I didn't want to leave my job to pursue the degree. Finding a part-time program that had an emphasis that could set me apart from other candidates was crucial to me.

    How did your Clemson MBA experience shape your career path?
    The MBA gave me a leg up as I pursued innovation at Chick-fil-A. I've been able to keep my current job and be involved with innovation aspects at Chick-fil-A.

    What was your favorite class in the program? Why?
    Entrepreneurial strategy was one of my favorite classes. It helped the students apply everything they learned from class in the real world. I enjoyed learning about business model canvas and using it to look at business from the ground up.

    Can you describe how you maintained a work-life balance?
    Chick-fil-A has the intention of balancing the life and work of all employees. If things are great at home then you'll perform well in the business.

    When I was in the program, the class schedule was very supportive for me to maintain a professional and personal life. I had weekend classes and online classes that helped me balance multiple aspects of my life.

    What is your favorite Clemson MBA memory?
    I underestimated how valuable the cohort was. I loved the fact that I got to build networks. I learned a lot from my cohort who are from different backgrounds, fields, and areas of expertise.

    Looking back at your experience in the program, what piece of advice would you give to our current/future students?
    Learning from your peers is just as important as learning from the professors and lecturers in your class. Spend time with those in the program and learn from those with different experiences and expertise from you.

  • Rick Seidman
    Rick Seidman, CEO Quoizel

    B.S., MBA ’16 - Part-Time MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    Currently the CEO of Quoizel, Inc., a decorative lighting manufacturer, Rick Seidman was looking for ways to improve his business and his knowledge base. Having worked his way up from sales representative to CEO over the course of a long and successful career, he decided that the Clemson MBA program was the ideal place to continue his education and professional development. "My MBA experience at Clemson has been a life-changing event," Rick said. "My high school and undergraduate college experiences were driven by my desire to achieve high grades to first get into college and then to get a good job with a top firm. In stark contrast, my reason for going for an MBA was to gain knowledge. I didn't join this program as a way to get a pay increase, promotion, new job, or start a new business. I am the CEO and my only desire was to gain knowledge to better run my company."

    In the program, Rick learned several new concepts to put to work in his day-to-day business activities. The results have been phenomenal. "For starters, I learned this concept called forced innovation. The idea is based on neuroscience and ways to push your brain to think in new ways," Rick said. In order to push beyond the usual inspirations for designing Quoizel products - furniture, the architecture of homes and materials such as glass, stone, metals, etc., Rick met with his Director of Design and told him to implement this new concept.

    "We forced our designers for one week to draw new designs from female fashion products such as jewelry, pocketbooks, shoes and clothing. The outcome was amazing and our customers went wild over the prototypes," Rick said. As a result, Quoizel launched its first forced innovation collection this January. In addition, they now have a strategic initiative called forced innovation, which takes place four times annually to create new designs.

    Concepts like MVP, minimum viable product, taught in the entrepreneurship class have also been a part of Quoizel's new business strategy. Most small businesses fail because they run out of money before massaging their new business concept into one that their intended consumer needs and wants. The MVP model teaches taking your new product/concept to the target consumer early in the process to get feedback and iterate or pivot your business model based on their response. The goal is to get the correct concept down before investing substantial resources to pursue a faulty concept. "As a result of this concept, we are producing fewer product samples (very expensive for us) by using 3-D images to survey our customers. Based on the results, we will only sample once we have a strong response," Rick said.

    Skills and techniques learned in the MBA program are being implemented all throughout Rick's business. "The case studies have been a great tool to send to my executives, managers, and some of my top retail distributors. My marketing team is now working on updating our target consumer. My sales staff is looking at a new training program that we used in class. My operations staff helped me to understand our bottlenecks and ways to resolve them," Rick said.

    The MBA program has helped Rick and Quoizel reach new heights both personally and professionally.

    "There is no question that the ROI has been wonderful for my time and money spent on the Clemson MBA program. Thank you, Clemson!"

Leadership Stories

  • Nicole Andrews
    Nicole Andrews, MBA

    MBA ’14 - Part-Time MBA Corporate Program
    Current position: Human Resources Manager
    Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP

    By Nadeen Qubti

    Nicole Andrews has Clemson orange running through her veins! She graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Management in 2005 and received her Master of Human Resources Development (MHRD) in 2013 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Clemson in 2014.

    After initially starting her career in sales, Andrews realized that she enjoyed developing and seeing other people succeed and took pleasure in creating a supportive environment, which encouraged her to transition into a career in human resources in 2010. Nicole currently focuses primarily on employee engagement and inclusion and diversity as the Manager of HR Programs at Dixon Hughes Goodman. "DHG leads with inclusion because it's one of the most critical pieces to retention," she says. "No matter how diverse your workforce is, you need to ensure that your employees feel included in order to support retention."

    Nicole has had multiple roles and experiences that helped her develop her view on life and her career. Nicole's work philosophy is a reflection of her personal philosophy. "We all want meaning in what we do - the why. I want to be of service and create meaning for others," she explains. Her personal vision is to be a renowned authentic leader that teaches and inspires others to live their best life. She also desires to create dynamic organizational cultures through her work.

    What is your favorite quote?
    "What we know matters, but who we are matters more." - Brené Brown, Ph.D., Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.

    What is the best advice you have received?
    I have a mentor who challenged me to create a vision for my life, which has been one of the single most important actions that I have ever taken. Having a vision helps me understand my "why" and how I can provide value to others. I have also been encouraged to stop striving for perfection since no one is perfect and to not be afraid to bet on myself or not let others define who I am.

    Why did you choose to attend the Clemson MBA Program?
    I am a business person at my core based on my initial start in sales. I wanted to couple my love for enhancing the people side of the business through furthering my understanding of all aspects of a business. Business acumen and continuous learning in any role is valuable. I was able to take what I had learned from my experiences and new concepts from the program and apply it within the workplace. The program is a high-quality program with a great reputation. The Clemson MBA's location in downtown Greenville surrounded by area businesses makes it even more convenient for working professionals looking to enhance their knowledge and contributions or full-time students looking to broaden their knowledge and networks.

    How did your Clemson MBA experience shape your career path?
    My experiences in the program gave me more confidence, exposed me to new ideas, and challenged my perspective.

    What was your favorite class in the program?
    My favorite class was the MBA Seminar Class. There was a discussion on political savviness in the workplace and several students expressed their refusal to "play politics." This discussion stuck with me because everyone learned that political savviness is an important skill that is needed to influence change and inspire future leaders. It is not about stepping on others to get ahead or exhibiting unethical behaviors. It is understanding the "unwritten rules" in any organizational culture and removing the focus from ourselves to identifying how to support others in the achievement of their goals.

    Being politically savvy doesn't mean that you have to give up who you are in the workplace. It means that you can define what success means for you while also being mindful of other's needs and concerns.

    How did you maintain a work-life balance?
    Schedule time to unplug from your regular study or project schedule - it's okay to take a day or two off to regroup with family and friends or re-energize through a hobby. Focus on taking care of yourself to avoid burnout.

    What is your favorite Clemson MBA memory?
    My favorite memory is attending the tile ceremony. Although finishing the program was bittersweet, the Clemson MBA Tile is a visual reminder to continue to reach for greatness in my career and life.

    What piece of advice would you give to our current/future students?
    Know what makes you different and unique. Education and experience are important, but it may be even more important to know how those make you uniquely different than any other MBA student and how you can use your talents to contribute to an organization. Differentiate yourself by reflecting on your personal brand and value proposition.

    I believe that you also need talent, drive, and resilience in addition to your education and experiences to succeed on your journey. Although there may be stumbling blocks along the way, if you have the ability to bounce back and learn from both failures and successes, you can conquer anything and can help others do the same!

  • Caroline Aneskievich
    Caroline Aneskievich, MBA

    MBA/MIB ’15 - Clemson MBA and IESEG School of Management
    Current position: HR Planning Analyst at BMW

    By Tracy McGee

    Caroline Aneskievich has an insatiable passion for two things: Clemson University and international learning. Her passion has been a driving force in her decisions, starting with the pursuit of her first college degree from Clemson in 2006. When Aneskievich does something, she gives it her all, so the pursuit of one degree quickly turned into two. She graduated with a B.A. in Spanish and International Trade in 2010, followed by a B.S. in Marketing in 2011.

    After graduation, Aneskievich accepted a position in the Business Leadership Development Program with Piedmont Natural Gas. She rotated through various departments, spending a year in customer service and a year in enterprise quality management before finding herself back in Greenville for her year in community relations. Seeing an opportunity to set herself apart, Aneskievich enrolled in Clemson's MBA program and spent the next year as a full-time student and full-time employee.

    Aneskievich was able to combine her passions and completed the dual degree program between Clemson University and IESEG's School of Management in 2015 to earn both her Master in Business Administration and Master in International Business. While she was in Paris finishing her degree she applied and entered BMW's Global Leader Development Program. The Program consists of two international and two domestic rotations with a specific track over an 18-month period. This brought Aneskievich to work in Human Resources in the US, Germany and Mexico. Her international passion was only continuing to grow.

    Though Aneskievich primarily hangs her hat in South Carolina these days, she continues to be able to travel as part of her job with BMW. As for her passion for Clemson, she was recently elected President of the Clemson University MBA Alumni Association. Considering her track record of excellence, we are thrilled to see what she does in her new role.

    What are you most looking forward to in your role as president of the alumni association?

    I want to focus minds and hands where hearts already are. Clemson alumni care deeply about the future of the program and its current students, and I want to make sure our passion can be channeled constructively into something we feel strongly about.

    What inspired you to give back by getting involved with the alumni association?
    I was involved in the MBA Student Association during my time in the program. I want to continue giving back and expanding on the ways people interact with the MBA program. I want to make sure it's special, to help people be able to look back and define a favorite moment.

    Why did you get your MBA?
    I wanted to set myself apart and be more marketable. I was looking for more exposure to people currently in the workforce and professors who had that working experience. I wanted real-life academics as a sort of pivot point for me to transition into the next phase of my own career.

    What was your favorite class in the program? Why?
    Information systems with Professor Thatcher was my favorite class. It taught me not to be afraid of IT terms and that there is a lot of creativity in what makes a platform or system.

    What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
    I would say my greatest accomplishment is yet to come. It would be sad if I had already achieved my greatest accomplishment so early in my career, so I hope I'll continue to grow and learn and make a difference. I will say it's pretty cool to have been to 30 countries before turning 30, to know 4 languages, and to have 4 degrees, but I hope I have more to look forward to.

    What advice do you have to share with our current students?
    Have an open mind and see what you like! Learn transferable skills like problem-solving and idea creation. Don't be afraid to learn outside of the classroom. Your human capital is the strongest tool you have - invest in yourself! Make meaningful connections - outside of the classroom and not just with fellow students. Greenville is a unique and wonderful place, so put yourself out there! Don't come to get your MBA thinking Clemson has your dream job waiting; come get your MBA for the experience, to meet the people and learn the skills you need to find that dream job.

    Favorite Quote:
    "Do common things in an uncommon way." - Dabo Swinney

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  • Josh Kettler
    Headshot photo of man with short blond hair and blue eyes.

    MBA ’14 - Full-Time Traditional Program
    Current position: Strategic Planning Assistant
    Global Sales, Patagonia HQ

    Josh Kettler hails from Southern California where he spent four years working in the entertainment industry before making the decision to earn an MBA from Clemson. "I was ready to take the next step toward reaching my goals. The program provided me the skills and academic experience I needed to change industries and shift my career focus," Kettler said.

    In the summer of 2014, Josh landed a consulting position for a New York City-based men's fashion start-up, which he worked with during his final semester at Clemson. The experience he gained in the industry led him to apply for the position he currently holds: aiding in the development of worldwide retail, wholesale and e-commerce strategies for Patagonia, a well-known designer of outdoor clothing and gear. Josh currently works at the company's HQ in Ventura, California, where he spends his lunches trail-running and surfing.

    After a lengthy hiring process, he was selected from a large pool of highly qualified candidates. "An MBA degree clearly made me more visible and valuable during the application and hiring process, and the thought processes I developed in the program have helped me meet the demands of a very busy and growing global business."

  • Aleda Roth, Ph.D.
    Dr. Aleda Roth, Burlington Industries Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at Clemson University

    B.S., M.S.P.H., Ph.D.
    Burlington Industries Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at Clemson University

    At Clemson, you will find a faculty to rival that of any institution. Some of the brightest minds in the country call Clemson home. One such mind you may have the chance to work with is Aleda Roth, the Burlington Industries Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain Management at Clemson University. Roth has over 200 published works to her name, and she has received over 80 research and teaching awards since earning her doctorate in 1986. Her research is motivated by theoretical and practical explanations of how firms can best deploy their operations, global supply chains and technology strategies for competitive advantage, sustainability and public well-being. At Clemson, Aleda initiated and directed the Global Food Supply Chain Quality Risk Project.

    "I am concerned about tainted food, especially from China," Roth said. "Due to the highly toxic environment--air, water and soil--heavy metals enter the food supply chain and we derive increasing amounts of food from there. Little is known about the cumulative effects of heavy metals on our health. The FDA only checks about 1-2 percent of imported foods, and does not check consistently for traces of heavy metals."

    Before joining Clemson, Roth held the W.P. Carey Endowed Chaired Professorship in supply chain management at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business. While at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she held the Mary Farley Lee Distinguished Professorship of operations, technology, and innovation management. Roth chaired the global supply chain management concentration in the MBA program at UNC and served as Area Chair. She earned her Ph.D. at The Ohio State University, where she also received her B.S. She received her MSPH in biostatistics from UNC-Chapel Hill.

    "I was recruited for the Burlington Industries Endowed Chair in Supply Chain Management," Roth said. "I was excited about helping to develop an innovative doctoral program in supply chain and operations management (SC/OM). I saw the potential to develop stellar scholars. Over the years, we have attracted talented students and faculty to the Department of Management's SC/OM group."

    Another place where Roth has seen a large amount of talent attracted has been in the Clemson MBA program. "Moving the MBA program to Greenville had a remarkable impact on the program, in that it is accessible to a remarkable pool of applicants," Roth said. "While small, we now have a world-class facility. I now feel that Clemson has MBA students that are very competitive with those from other schools where I have taught, including UNC-Chapel Hill, WP Carey, Duke and Boston University. They are top-notch innovative and critical thinkers who will make a difference. It is a pleasure to teach Clemson MBA students."

  • Ben Worley, CFP®, CLU®, CLTC, MBA
    Ben Worley, MBA

    Clemson MBA ’11 - Part-time Traditional Program
    Current position: Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual

    In addition to earning one of the top two rankings for Northwestern Mutual's "Under 5 Year" advisors in the Southern Region, Ben has taken on a significant leadership role in their Greenville office. He credits Clemson's MBA program with teaching him effective networking, communication and marketing skills, all of which he puts into practice on a daily basis to land and retain clients. Ben partners with clients to help them achieve optimum financial security for themselves and their families.

    Ben has utilized innovative leadership skills he learned in the Clemson MBA Program to mentor other reps in his office. Northwestern Mutual took notice of these efforts and hand-selected him to be one of 25 members (out of several thousand eligible advisors) to participate in the company's "High Potential Leadership Program" which is designed to groom and develop emerging leaders for the company's future.

    In 2014 Ben was awarded the Best and Brightest Award from Greenville Business Magazine, which honors leaders under 35 that contribute significantly to the Greenville community both professionally as well as philanthropically. In the Greenville community, Ben is actively engaged with the United Way's "Young Philanthropist" group, as well as with Miracle Hill Ministries. In 2010, he co-founded the Ronald McDonald House's "Red Shoe Society," which is the young professional arm of the House.

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  • Terry Green, Jr.
    Terry Green Jr.

    MBA ’14 - Full-Time MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program

    When Terry Green, Jr. received his MBAe from Clemson in 2014, little did he know he'd be building mosquito traps in Colombia and working to elevate that country's global stature in producing cacao beans for chocolate.

    Green, who has five years of experience in the Peace Corps, started in Peru as a community economic development specialist. He returned to Clemson and graduated with an MBAe before heading back to South America where he continues in economic development and health-related projects.

    The USAID/USDA Cacao for Peace Initiative, of which nine U.S. land-grant universities are a part, is Green's most recent project that aims to leverage the country's quality cacao crop, a raw bean that is processed to become cocoa, chocolate's main ingredient.

    "This initiative will create economic opportunities for the U.S. chocolate and confectionery industries, which import high volumes of cacao, and thousands of Colombian farmers and their families throughout the country," said Green.

    Green's current endeavor has ties to Clemson and a graduate school cohort of his, Even Skjervold. It was Skjervold who made Green aware of a community health issue in Colombia that is occupying his time these days.

    "Colombia doesn't have the resources to diagnose Zika or Chikungunya viruses at the community level, so they are looking at ways to reduce the mosquito population," he said. "We're cutting up old tires to make traps to lure the mosquitoes. Every three days the eggs are collected and destroyed. The goal is to reduce deadly mosquito-borne diseases by limiting the number of insects that transmit the viruses."

  • Rick Joye
    Rick Joye

    MBA ’07 - Part-Time MBA Corporate

    Over the course of 17 years with Michelin North America, Rick Joye has held numerous leadership roles. Currently, as a supply chain manager, Rick is responsible for the direction of nine manufacturing plants throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico.

    "My Clemson MBA experience directly affected my career advancement at Michelin," said Rick, who graduated in 2007. "It allowed me to move from a technical to a business-oriented career within Michelin's supply chain organization."

    From transforming the industrial supply chain to managing the Greenville plant through the 2008 economic downturn, Rick has made a significant impact on Michelin's business throughout his career, all while making time to reach his personal goal of launching a nonprofit.

    Rick is the founder, chairman, and executive director of Sustaining Way, an interfaith nonprofit that uses education, collaboration, and workforce development to empower communities to cultivate a sustainable and equitable future. In partnership with over 35 local organizations, ranging from universities to churches to nonprofits to government agencies, Sustaining Way's unique, community-based approach to sustainability includes a demonstration site strategically located in an underserved community and on-site community coordinators.

    "The excellent staff at the Clemson MBA program not only helped me while I was in school, but has continued to support and encourage me to this day," said Rick.

    One of the most meaningful projects for Rick was weatherizing low-income homes. Through this experience, Rick realized that sustainable practices have a huge potential to improve the lives of those living in underserved communities, but that a more consistent presence and a community site for education was needed to convince residents of the merits of adopting sustainable practices at home.

    Sustaining Way's flagship project, Annie's House became the realization of Rick's vision for a permanent place to demonstrate sustainable living practices, and Sustaining Way takes on the larger role of bridging the gaps between local nonprofits and other organizations to make Greenville's historic Nicholtown neighborhood a more sustainable community.

    Sustaining Way and Annie's House resulted from Rick's work with the SAVER (Sustaining And Valuing Earth's Resources) committee at his church, First Baptist of Greenville. Sustaining Way's ultimate vision is to transform underserved communities throughout the country by proliferating the model being developed at Annie's House to each major city in South Carolina and beyond.

    Annie's House is located in Nicholtown, SC, just minutes from downtown Greenville. Bordering the Swamp Rabbit Trail, Annie's House is an ideal location passed by over half a million people annually.

    "My Clemson MBA experience has supported both my personal and professional successes. The experience equipped me with the necessary skills, confidence, and entrepreneurial spirit to start my own nonprofit organization here in Greenville," said Rick.

    "My advice to current and future MBA students: Life is short - seek out and determine what you want from life. Set aside time to continually develop yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Develop personal vision and mission statements that provide a consistent compass for how you live your life. Take risks to reach your vision, and don't let temporary failures deter you. See who you want to become instead of who you are, and you can and will reach your life goals!"

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