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Countdown to Commencement: Sadde Salaices, Full-time MBA

As part of Scheller’s Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do after Spring 2019 Commencement.
Sadde Salaices

Sadde Salaices

As part of Scheller’s Countdown to Commencement series, we interviewed a few soon-to-be graduates from our undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs to learn about their backgrounds, why they chose Scheller College, and what they plan to do after Spring 2019 Commencement.

Meet Sadde Salaices:

Sadde is completing his MBA with a concentration in finance and accounting. The Dalton, Georgia, native has worked for the past 19 years for his family’s small-business grocery store which sells a wide-range of Hispanic foods and provides check cashing and wire transfer services. He notes,”I like to run early in the morning, it gives me the feeling of accomplishment and motivates me for the rest of the day.” He also served in the Army National Guard.

Undergraduate school and degree:

Dalton State College - Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

I worked at Carniceria Nacho which is a small Mexican grocery store that my mom started about 19 years ago. Our store provides a full-range of services from Hispanic goods to providing check cashing and wire transfers services. We also have a full-service butcher shop where customers can order meat, poultry, or seafood cut and seasoned to their liking. We even have a small kitchen where we sell prepared food. Being a small business owner, I wore many hats, but my primary role was serving as our company’s CFO where I was responsible for the financial accounting and reporting of our business. While I was running the business and pursuing my undergraduate degree in accounting, I also served in the Army National Guard as a combat medic.

I started working at the age of ten operating the cash registers in our family business. As I got older, I started to get more involved with the daily operations of the business. More specifically setting up controls for our financial services side of the business. This side of the business consisted of our check cashing and wire transfer operations. The check cashing side of the business consisted of $12.8 million, while the wire transfer business consisted of $3.8 million annually. All of this was cash circulating through our business, but it only generated around $160,000 in revenue. Because all of these transactions are cash-focused, properly accounting for these was a challenge. Add to this another $2 million in revenue from our retail operations and things get really complex. As CFO, it was my job to reconcile all of this cash, produce our financial statements, and ensure that our revenue was properly recorded.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018?

I was fortunate to intern with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta as a finance intern with its supply chain finance team.

Where will you be working after graduation?

I received a full-time offer through my internship, so I am very enthusiastic and eager to begin a full-time position with The Coca-Cola Company as a Finance Leadership Associate in August.

Why did you choose Scheller College of Business?

Initially what attracted me to Scheller was the location of the school and the list of companies that recruited from it. As I started to learn more about Georgia Tech in general, several things stood out. First, during the interview process, we sat in on an MBA class to understandwhat a class at Scheller was like. (The class I sat in on was the core strategy class.) Students were presenting what they had worked on all semester. The company that was presenting when I was there was First Data. First Data had challenged the team of students to identify risks for First Data’s payment processing business. I was really impressed by the students’ work on the project, and even more impressed by the level of commitment from the company representatives. In the front row were three executives from First Data listening to the recommendations offered by the students. This was one reason why I immediately placed Scheller at the top of my list.

Second were the interactions that I had with current students. I remember sitting outside waiting to tour the campus when a student who just happened to pass by approached me to start sharing his experience in the MBA program. Not only was he very helpful, but also mentioned how everyone in the program was there to help. This became very obvious as I talked to other students in the program and everyone was more than willing to go out of their way to help out. I definitely felt like I could fit in and saw myself in the Scheller MBA program.

Finally, when I was interviewed at Scheller, I was interviewed by the Executive Director of Career Services. I felt that he really took the time to review my application and listened to my career goals. Like most students, I applied and interviewed at several different schools. While other schools would name companies that offered internships in Fnance, Scheller took it a step further. The Executive Director was able to name companies and then give reasons based on my background on why certain companies would be a good fit. I had the impression that he wasn’t just concerned with placing students in jobs but ensuring that students were placed in the right jobs. After my interview with him, I knew I wanted to be at Scheller. 

Who was your favorite MBA professor (and why)?

My favorite professor was Professor Rothaermel. His strategy class was very engaging. I always looked forward to his class because of the way he covered the topics. He also helped me think about my strategy in life. I had never approached my goals in that way. I saw the importance on developing a strategy for things outside business.

What was your favorite course (and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it?)

It’s really hard to choose just one out of all the great courses offered here at Scheller, but I would have to say Financial Analysis & Reporting of Technology Firms. Coming from an accounting background, I had an understanding of debits, credits, and how transactions impact the financial statements, but not much experience with analyzing firms. This course gave me a strong foundation on how to look at a company’s financial statements.

As a business student in the heart of Tech Square, how do you think Scheller College embodies the intersection of business and technology?

Being at Scheller, one of the main topics we discussed in many classes is the impact technology has on a business. Whether it’s on a product, customer experience, or operations, technology is integrated in all aspects of business. The MBA program here does a great job of exposing students to the challenges that companies face while integrating technology. Many of the class presentations were based on current problems companies face and as students, we must come up with recommendations.

For example, in my service operations class, I worked on a team project to analyze the challenges Progressive Insurance faced as it integrated GPS into cars. The goal was to offer consumers a way to pay for only the amount of insurance needed based on their usage and their own driving conditions. While this seems like a great idea to only pay for insurance based on the actual mileage, as a team we looked at other aspects that may pose concerns. Using GPS to calculate premiums means that insurance companies could have a lot of data to show where consumers are at any given time, places consumers frequent, and time spent at those locations. These may not be something consumers may be comfortable giving up to insurance companies. Problems like this are what Scheller is all about and I think that’s what exemplifies Scheller’s unique positioning at the intersection of business and technology.

Did you participate in a practicum? If yes, which practicum(s) and what year(s)?

Yes, during my second semester of my second year I enrolled in the Real Estate Practicum.

One of the reasons I chose the real estate practicum is because I wanted to learn more about real estate. Through my family-owned business, we have purchased several properties that we now rent. I wanted a fundamental understanding of how the real estate market worked. I also wanted to learn what to look for when investing in real estate.

For the Real Estate Practicum, we were tasked with advising a real estate developer with a client who needs to relocate to Atlanta. The client has a firm in the Fintech industry and is looking to relocate from the central Perimeter area to either downtown or midtown Atlanta. As a team, we needed to locate the ideal property, formulate a development program, analyze the economics and funding, assess the competitive market conditions, and develop a plan. Currently I am still working with the team to develop a plan for this project.

Did the Jones MBA Career Center help you find a job or internship during your time at Scheller or after graduation? Did you end up working or interning for one of your top choice companies?

Yes, the Jones MBA Career Center helped me secure my internship. I practiced interviewing with several members of the Career Services team. Everyone was always more than willing to help even though they were not my assigned advisor. They really look at this as a team effort.

While I didn’t have a company that I could say was my top choice, more than anything I just wanted the opportunity to intern in a corporate finance role. I never would have expected to end up at The Coca-Cola Company, so that was just a plus in my view.

How did the extracurricular offerings at Scheller College help you during your time here?

The extracurricular activities are a great way to learn about other people  outside   the classroom. The Scheller Student Speaker series is always fascinating. Students have the opportunity to talk about any topic they want and it’s always amazing to hear some of their experiences. One that sticks out is Greg Shaw’s presentation; he talked about his experience in the military and tough challenges he faced while serving. It made us think about how we approach situations and how quickly tough decisions have to be made under certain circumstances.  

What activities were you involved with on or off campus, and did your business education impact those activities in any way?

I was involved with the Veterans Club on campus and through this I got exposed to outside organizations. I enrolled in the FourBlock program, which is an organization that helps veterans transition into corporate roles through their weekly classes. I did not have much experience networking prior to the MBA program, so  this definitely helped me in this aspect. Through FourBlock, I had the privilege of meeting many of the veterans in the Atlanta community. I was able to leverage my networking skills from the program to build relationships with many of the people I met. 

Did you utilize any of Scheller College’s diversity initiatives? How did they help you during your time at the College? (Women in Business, Excel Program, Blacks in Business, Veteran programs, LGBTQ, etc.)

I’m currently the president of the MBA Veterans Club at Scheller. Through it I have had opportunities to network with other veterans in the Atlanta community. This past fall Scheller hosted the Vetlanta Summit. The Veterans Club was able to help out during the event and we were able to learn about other veteran organizations in the area.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program?

For me, the biggest challenge was interviewing. I have worked for my family’s business all my life and had never  needed to interview for a job. I wish I would have known how early on in the semester companies recruited on campus. Getting some extra help before starting the program would have been a huge advantage, but luckily, we have a great career services team that was able to help me out tremendously. 

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into Scheller College?

Be yourself. While this may seem obvious, it is especially important if you don’t have a traditional background. I was a bit intimidated coming from a small-business background, while many applicants had worked at Fortune 500 companies. In the end, I think my nontraditional work experience is what made me unique t not only to Scheller, but to potential employers as well.

What is the biggest myth about Scheller College and how was it the same or different than what you experienced?

The biggest myth about Scheller is that you need a business background to succeed in the program. I was expecting most of my classmates to have business backgrounds, but the program is much more diverse than expected. There are literally people from all walks of life: people who were former teachers, engineers, lawyers, and veterans who came straight out of active duty. 

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? (A parent? A teacher? A role model?

Owning a small business was definitely one of the reasons why I decided to get an MBA. There were a lot of gaps that I needed to fill to manage our business in a professional manner. I had help setting up controls and tracking our income and expenses from my CPA initially, but I wanted to know why things had to be done a certain way. As I talked more with my CPA, I  became more interested in the accounting aspect of the business. He (my CPA) said I would have an advantage over other students because of my experience. As I was getting ready to graduate with my undergraduate degree, he suggested I get an MBA. This would allow me to get the additional classes and experience I needed to sit for the CPA exam and with my background, I would be a great candidate. He was one of the people who wrote me a recommendation to get into to Scheller.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?

One of the people I worked with was Anuj Gupta. We were on the same team for multiple projects during the program. He is very creative and  a great presenter. During our services operations class, we presented a Progressive Insurance case. He went the extra mile to record himself getting a quote from Progressive through his phone. Not only did he do this, but the way he integrated it into the PowerPoint slide and into the presentation itself was done well.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be working in the family business exploring other ways to grow and improve our business.

Fun fact about yourself:

I have watched the complete series of The Office more times that I would like to admit.

What is your favorite movie about business and what was the biggest lesson you learned from it?

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The biggest lesson I learned was don’t trust your father-in-law!

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

One of the top things that I would like to do is live in a different country for a year. I think that would be an amazing experience. Hopefully working at a global company like Coca-Cola, I will have the opportunity one day. The other thing that I would like to do is visit some of the Aztec ruins in Mexico.   

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?

I would like to be remembered as someone they could count on to get things done.

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