Early-Career MBA Means Early Success

February 23, 2023
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Earning an MBA immediately after finishing his bachelor’s degree gave Michael Scott a competitive edge in the world of technology strategy and consulting.

Recent headlines about the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to reshape society range from cautiously optimistic to alarmist.

Michael Scott

Michael Scott

Michael Scott, BBA ’18, MBA ’21, falls firmly on the side of optimism. 

“I am constantly intrigued by the technology coming around the corner, whether it is ChatGPT or a new machine learning application,” Michael said. “I knew early on that I wanted to align myself with market needs and ride the tech wave to where I wanted to go.”

For Michael, time was of the essence. He earned an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Management Information Systems from Baylor, learning quickly that his true passion lay in information systems, not accounting. He applied for a range of positions after graduation, but the tech roles that appealed to him remained out of reach.

“I saw the MBA as an opportunity to differentiate myself from people my age first entering the workforce,” he said.

Now, as he builds a flourishing career in IT consulting, he looks back without regret at his decision to pursue an early-career MBA full time immediately after graduation.

Off the Bench 

While earning a Baylor MBA with a concentration in Cybersecurity and a Master of Science in Information Systems, Michael worked part-time for the Baylor University Graduate School to build and implement Slate, a cloud-based CRM system. In addition to tailoring the features of the new system to the school’s preferences, he gained experience managing security for distinct user populations.

“Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding aspects of my graduate school experience was the opportunity to gain real-world, hands-on experience while still in the program,” he said.

After graduation, Michael put his newfound knowledge to work for the University of West Florida, which was undertaking a similar CRM project. At the same time, he leveraged an MBA connection to analyze mortgage data in a freelance capacity for Nations Lending.

In late 2021, he landed a full-time role as a security consulting analyst at Accenture, a global leader in IT consulting. With an MBA and Cybersecurity concentration in hand, he was an ideal fit.

Michael has risen quickly at Accenture, earning a promotion to a senior analyst position in a little over a year, but it took a substantial effort to step onto the first rung of the ladder.

“When you join a firm like Accenture, you have to actively network to be placed on a team or you are stuck on the bench,” Michael said.

Networking virtually in a post-pandemic environment, where none of his colleagues are required to work in the company’s Manhattan office, was his first major hurdle to overcome.

Fortunately, his MBA program imparted the networking experience he needed to gain early traction. From frequent networking events on campus to special trips like Baylor Career Center's New York leadership summit, Michael arrived at Accenture with a healthy dose of confidence in his ability to communicate effectively with senior leadership. 

“I was already comfortable meeting with executives and delivering my elevator pitch about why I should be put on their next project,” he said. “That is how I got the opportunity to join the cyberstrategy team, a new offering at Accenture, on the ground floor.”

Once he joined the cyberstrategy team, he hit the ground running. The first year on the job was spent leading security metrics for a large divestiture at a global chemical manufacturing firm. Every day, he worked with a broad range of senior managers in security to gather data and build dashboards that would help the client track the health of their divesture.

“Because of the skills I had built during my MBA, I demonstrated that I was able to work beyond a normal entry-level analyst level,” he said. “I replaced a consultant two levels above me to lead this project, which involved advising more experienced managers on how they should implement software that I have never implemented before.”

At 26 years old, Michael would be lying if he said he had never experienced a touch of Imposter Syndrome. But he was able to overcome it by drawing, in large part, upon his experience in MBA classes like Focus Firm, which invites companies like Accenture to assign students a real- world challenge. In his Focus Firm class, Michael was part of a group that developed a statistical model for determining the placement of new 7-Eleven locations on Texas’ I-35 corridor and presenting their recommendations to a team of 7-Eleven executives.

“I remember the executive team responding favorably, which boosted my confidence in working with people at any level of an organization,” Michael said.

Into the Future

After completing the project for his manufacturing client, Michael began working with global strategy leaders at Accenture to develop a new offering related to security value management. As a recession looms, many companies are reevaluating their security spending as a percentage of their budget. The tool Michael is helping to develop will help identify gaps and opportunities in spending.

Over the next five years, Michael aspires to manage a project and team that creates AI and ML algorithms to accomplish various business objectives, from strengthening cybersecurity to boosting productivity.

“There is no limit to where we can apply these technologies,” he said.

Right now, though, he is focused on learning as much as possible to maximize his impact on client projects.

“My time at Baylor made me a sponge,” he said. “It set me up to keep growing, wherever this path leads.”

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