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Chris Foster, MBA 2009, is a strategic account executive with VMware.
Chris Foster, MBA 2009, is a strategic account executive with VMware.

Alumni Profile: Executive MBA Helps Chris Foster Attain Career Goals

Toward the end of the 2000s, Chris Foster was growing uneasy about his industry's trajectory and what that could mean for his career.

As a sales person and process engineer for a major chemical company, he saw firsthand that an increasing volume of product was being sold to processing plants overseas — China and Viet Nam in particular, where production costs are low — rather than to U.S. manufacturers. Consequently, his role was beginning to take on more of an international dimension.

"I was interested in the global aspect of business," he says, "but I wasn't interested in having to move to China or spend a significant amount of time overseas. I realized that I needed to position myself with all the tools I could so that I could make a career change if necessary. Education would be one of those tools."

Foster, who graduated from Georgia Southern in 2000 with a degree in chemistry, searched for a graduate degree program that combined business and technical components. He decided that Georgia Tech's Executive MBA in Global Business program made a lot of sense.

"The first things I looked at were rankings and reputation," he says. "They were easy boxes to check with Georgia Tech. Tech has stellar rankings and an international reputation.

"If you look at CEO's around the world," he continues, "the most common degree among them is engineering  — and Georgia Tech certainly has a reputation for producing great engineers."

He was also impressed that all professors in the EMBA program were "true" professors rather than adjuncts, and that classes were held on the main Tech campus in Atlanta.

"As an MBA student you get all of the benefits that every other Tech student gets in terms of access to resources and campus activities," Foster notes. "That's different from other MBA programs where you're on satellite campuses with adjunct professors — and you don't get to go to football and basketball games!"

After receiving his MBA in Global Business in 2009, Foster followed through with his anticipated career change and spent the next five years as a client representative with IBM's Public Sector IT Services division.

In the summer of 2014, he accepted his current position as a strategic account executive with VMware, a 14-year-old Palo Alto, Calif.-based software company that provides cloud and virtualization software and services. VMware's clients include every company in the Fortune 100 and 99 percent of the Fortune 500 list, according to Foster.

His job is to develop and lead the sales strategy for large public-sector accounts in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia, which includes state agencies, municipalities and large research universities such as Emory, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

"I had always thought that working in technology was a possibility because it's a strong interest of mine," he says. "Having that Georgia Tech MBA degree on my resume helped make that option available, and adds credibility to my business knowledge and experience."

Even though his accounts are clustered in the South, Foster says that the global business aspect of his MBA retains its relevance as well.

"Generally speaking, we all work in a global economy," he explains. "I may not have clients in China, but I interact on a daily basis with my co-workers and peers who are in India and China. Being able to understand their perspective is oftentimes very helpful. A Global Business MBA from Georgia Tech provides me with some of that perspective."

Foster adds, "My MBA from Georgia Tech has paid for itself many times over in terms of quality of life, and from a financial perspective as well."



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