Jon Michael Thomas, a 2019 Scheller College of Business Executive MBA (EMBA) alum, set the goal of getting an MBA shortly after his undergraduate graduation, but grappled with the question that so many prospective students come across – When is the right time to go back to school?
“I thought about going for a master’s degree straight out of school but decided to wait and see where my career and interests took me,” Thomas said. “I’m glad I waited. Ultimately, the timing of my decision came from feeling like I had enough corporate experience to have clear direction and get the most value from the program. When I was thinking about what my career would look like in the next two to five years, I expected to be at a point where an MBA would be a differentiator, if not a requirement.”
Thomas, who received a B.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Georgia, ultimately decided to wait, and it turned out his timing couldn’t have worked out better.While working at SunTrust Bank as a Business Intelligence Manager, Thomas was feeling a bit stagnant in his career. After committing to the Global Business cohort in the EMBA program, he decided he wanted to complete his degree before changing jobs.
“I was anticipating the degree to be a bit of a catalyst to launching into a new role, but about halfway through the program, the SunTrust Bank and BB&T merger was announced. About four months before graduation was when they were working through the org design process for Truist. That’s when a new opportunity came up. I was expecting to try and make a move externally, but this opportunity was pretty spot on to what I laid out in terms of what my goals are and what I wanted to do,” Thomas said.
While in his Business Intelligence Manager position, Thomas managed the enterprise business intelligence platforms in the IT organization. However, his goal was to work in the line of business, leveraging his skills and experience in conjunction with his new business perspective to build analytics solutions to help leverage data as a competitive advantage. Ultimately with the help of his EMBA degree and the timing of the merger, Thomas is doing just that in his new role in the Commercial Bank as Market Intelligence Analytics Manager at Truist.
“From a career path perspective, my time in the program gave me the tools I needed,” Thomas said. “Subject matter from accounting, finance, and economics courses are especially relevant in my day-to-day work with commercial bankers. I think having this degree really positioned me well for my new role with Truist.”
An early challenge he faced in his new role was having to respond to the Paycheck Protection and Main Street Lending Programs during Covid-19.
“Recognizing what an important role we could play in supporting small businesses in need during the pandemic, I was asked to analyze our client and prospect populations to estimate the volume of loan applications we would receive. We knew it was going to be a massive influx of applications and we had to prepare to support that demand from a systems and personnel perspective,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ degree has positioned him to handle work challenges, mergers, and even a relocation to Charlotte, which happened when he accepted his new role.
“It was extremely challenging and stressful dealing with the merger while in the program and looking for a new job all at the same time. 2019 was a really crazy, stressful year but I definitely came out of it for the better,” Thomas said.
Learn more about the Scheller Executive MBA Program.