Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business students come to learn, explore, and build community. As they move forward in their careers, they take everything they've learned and use it to power innovation in industries and businesses across the globe. In celebration of Fall 2023 Commencement, we sat down with a few students to learn about their experiences and the wisdom they've gained in the process.
Meet Constance Cannon, who is graduating from the Executive MBA program with a concentration in Management of Technology.
Where are you from?
New Albany, MS
Describe yourself in 15 words or less:
Loyal, passionate, kind, loving, energetic, and innovative
Tell me about the person who most influenced your decision to pursue an MBA?
My decision to pursue an MBA was significantly influenced by my long-time friend, mentor, and former colleague, Marcus Vassell. Witnessing Marcus successfully graduate from Scheller’s Executive MBA with a concentration in Global Business in 2021 was a pivotal moment that ignited my interest in the program. When I reached out to congratulate him, Marcus's genuine enthusiasm and positive reflections on the program immediately captured my attention.
At that time, the concept of pursuing an MBA had been lingering in my mind for several years; however, the prospect of juggling this endeavor alongside my responsibilities as a parent to two children (ages three and 15), a demanding full-time job, and various other commitments seemed daunting.
What deeply resonated with me was Marcus's ability to navigate the challenges of the program, even amidst the additional responsibility of parenting having welcomed a new addition to his family during his studies in the Executive MBA program. His steadfast confidence in my potential, coupled with the thoughtful personal recommendation he graciously provided, acted as the catalyst that propelled me towards enrolling in the program. Marcus not only believed in my capabilities but also inspired me to believe in them myself. His endorsement has proven to be a guiding light, instilling in me the confidence and determination needed to pursue my MBA aspirations.
What was your favorite business course and why?
Selecting my favorite course is difficult, like choosing a favorite among various treasures; each holds its unique value. However, if pressed to pick, I would highlight the tremendous impact of the Financial Management course, led by professor Deborah Turner.
What set this course apart was not only professor Turner's profound expertise but also her engaging and humorous teaching style. The knowledge gained from this course has been beneficial both personally and professionally. I now find myself confidently reading and comprehending financial statements, a skill that proved invaluable when evaluating potential stock investments. Moreover, the insights gleaned from the Financial Management course significantly contributed to my ability to navigate through annual statements for my Management of Technology project.
What advice would you give to an incoming Executive MBA student?
Just do it! Cast aside any lingering doubts, fears, or uncertainties, and wholeheartedly embark on this enriching journey for your personal and professional growth. Despite the inevitable challenges, remember that unwavering support and profound learning accompany every step of this experience. Along the way, you'll form connections with individuals who will positively influence your journey, fostering lifelong relationships. The Executive MBA program is more than just a degree; it's a profound adventure that will sculpt your future. Brace yourself for a remarkable transformation!
What activities were you involved with on or off campus, and did your business education impact those activities in any way?
On-campus, a highlight of my involvement was being part of the inaugural Executive MBA Leadership Academy. This groundbreaking initiative provided a structured framework, seamlessly integrating insights from all facets of the program into our leadership development. Collaborating with Cynthia Lynch was not only a valuable learning experience but also a genuine pleasure. As she embarks on retirement, I extend my best wishes.
Additionally, I actively contributed to the Graduate Student Government Association's Campus Service Executive Committee. Engaging with fellow graduate students allowed me to lend my voice and experience to enhance initiatives, policies, and events, ultimately striving to improve the graduate student experience at Georgia Tech.
As a student ambassador, I found joy in welcoming prospective students and sharing my firsthand experiences with the program. This engagement allowed me to contribute to the vibrant community of learners at Georgia Tech.
My off-campus involvement extended to volunteering with Atlanta Technology Angels (ATA). As part of this group of angel investors, I supported startup and early-stage companies throughout the Southeast. The hands-on experience of working directly with founders, venture capitalists, and fellow angel investors enriched my understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape. Post-graduation, I aspire to stay actively engaged with this community and highly recommend volunteering, especially for those pursuing Management of Technology as their Executive MBA concentration.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at Scheller, and why?
The most inspiring MBA tradition at Scheller has been The Women's Tribute—an on-campus installation that celebrates the rich history of women at Georgia Tech. As a female graduate, I feel deeply honored by Georgia Tech's acknowledgment of the significant impacts, accomplishments, and contributions made by women across diverse fields. This tradition not only fosters a sense of recognition but also underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion within the Georgia Tech community.
What was your career journey in the Executive MBA program? Did you pivot, get a promotion, or change jobs?
My career journey during the Executive MBA program was marked by an interesting and intentional exploration. Several months into the program, I made the bold decision to leave my employer, entering a phase where I sought opportunities to generate income while navigating the path to discovering exactly what I wanted to pursue next. This unconventional move was driven by a commitment to align my career choices with my personal goals and purpose.
As I continue on this mission, I am in the process of defining the next steps in my career. While the journey may be unconventional, I am optimistic about the possibilities ahead and look forward to reporting more on this evolving path in the future.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
Firstly, I've always dreamed of being featured in Forbes, whether for my professional accomplishments or philanthropic endeavors. The prospect of sharing insights and experiences on a platform of such prominence has been a long-held goal.
Secondly, I aspire to contribute to the community by sitting on the board of a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding adolescents. Making a meaningful impact on the lives of young individuals aligns with my personal values and goals, and serving on a non-profit board presents an opportunity to contribute to positive change.
In addition to these goals, I envision having my story shared on the GT Women's Tribute in the future, further contributing to the celebration and recognition of women's accomplishments at Georgia Tech. These aspirations drive my ongoing commitment to personal and professional growth.
What was a moment when you had to practice persistence and/or resilience while in the MBA program?
Navigating the intricacies of team dynamics, a defining aspect of the Executive MBA program, became a true test of resilience for me. In a notable instance, our Management of Technology senior project took an unexpected turn when we had to pivot due to challenges posed by team dynamics.
The Leadership Academy played a pivotal role in equipping me with the tools to navigate such challenges. Working with individuals of varying experience levels and diverse personalities can be demanding. The resilience instilled through the Leadership Academy enabled me to approach the situation with a solutions-oriented mindset, focused on the end goal.
Lessons learned during this experience were invaluable. I learned not to take such situations personally and to persist in finding constructive solutions. This mindset helped me sidestep many potential pitfalls that can arise in team-based collaborative structures. The ability to maintain resilience and persistence, even in the face of unexpected challenges, became a critical skill honed during my MBA journey.
What is the biggest lesson you gained from your Scheller MBA?
Just start! Before joining the Management of Technology Executive MBA program, I carried the misconception that launching a company required meticulously defining every aspect. However, my journey at Scheller taught me a crucial lesson well-known to successful startups: the importance of taking that initial step. Waiting for all pieces of the puzzle to be perfectly aligned might mean never crossing the road.
The invaluable insight I acquired is that testing your idea, taking that first action, and adapting along the way are essential components of embarking on a path of innovation and entrepreneurship. This lesson has not only reshaped my approach to business but has become a guiding principle in navigating the dynamic landscape of startups and fostering a mindset of continuous innovation.
What will you be doing to celebrate your graduation?
I'll be hosting a small dinner with close friends and family. After the festivities, I plan to return to my house to wind down and savor the moment with relaxation and good company! Cheers to the class of 2023 for a well-deserved celebration!
What is a fun fact about yourself?
A fun fact about me is my deep passion for real estate and interior design! During my spare time, you'll likely catch me binge-watching HGTV design shows or exploring real estate websites to keep tabs on market trends in various areas. I find joy in perusing random listings not just for potential investments but also for design inspiration. I actively follow sales in my local and other metro-Atlanta areas, using my insights to identify the best investment opportunities. Over time, my knack for predicting prime investment locations has proven to be quite accurate, and I've achieved notable success in this area.