The MBA degree – which confers an array of knowledge, including a panoramic view of corporate operations – is alive and well at New Jersey colleges and universities. Below, New Jersey Business details both the overall career trajectories of recent MBA graduates, and how the MBA degree fostered their entrepreneurship – or helped them flourish in the corporate world.
Daniel Czerniawski is president and CEO of the Actors Federal Credit Union, New York City, a financial institution which does exactly what its name implies: Provide financial services to those in the entertainment industry. Czerniawski had such a successful, meteoric rise in the financial world via Hudson United Bank, North Fork Bank, Capital One Bank – and other household names – that he found himself in what he calls the “odd” position of being asked to help design a higher education’s MBA program without actually possessing the degree himself.
He explains he thought he should earn an MBA, anyway, adding, “I said, ‘Let me get this done.’ I have three kids: a seven-year-old, a five-year-old, and a three-year-old. They were two years younger at the time, and I realized I had a window before they would be playing sports and stuff.”
New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT) executive MBA program (EMBA) offered him the appropriate conduit to graduation, a program of which he says: “[It] is different than what it is for the regular [MBA] students. It involves having to travel for a week, to take us (students) around into China; it involves a lot of coordination. It involves weekend work with all the professors.”
He adds, “The massive difference is I am taking real-world experience and bouncing it off of academia, and re-applying it back on my job, which is a real, interesting benefit, for me.”
Ankit Goyal, co-founder and CEO of PS3G – Professional Services, Software & Solutions Group, (delivering IT solutions, services and products) – had already successfully started his company when he undertook an MBA program at Long Branch-based Monmouth University. He explains, “A simple example [of the MBA’s value] would be accounting … I never understood it before [undertaking] my MBA, because I wasn’t from an accounting background at all, or a finance background. But, now, I understand a balance sheet; I can rip it apart. … If you talk about business finance, I never understood the concept of valuation, or merger and acquisitions … and now I do.”
Goyal already had a lot of experience as he pursued his MBA. Of this, he says, in part, “From an entrepreneurial perspective, when you are forming a company, there are a lot of other things which are needed in day-to-day activities …,” some of which he attained in the MBA program.
Aurora Rosado Lazzaro is a partner at the accounting firm Sobel & Co., and not only has her CPA designation, but also has an MBA degree. She earned both her undergraduate degree (2007) and MBA (2017) from Wayne-based William Paterson University, but not before rapidly rising through the ranks of the accounting profession. Along the way, she quit a New Jersey accounting job in 2010, moved to California – and then moved back to New Jersey five months later. The same firm re-hired her – an apparent testament to her corporate value.
She says, “Getting my MBA helped me [see] business in a more holistic sense. It was focused on accounting, but the courses that you have to take [teach] you new things. You are also with peers; some are in accounting; some are in different businesses. I get exposure to what is changing in the job marketplace, out there, and what people are dealing with, now.”
Stephen Azzarone might not have an MBA, but – at age 26 – he is believed to be the youngest person to own an Allstate Insurance firm in New Jersey. As any professional such as an attorney or physician who wishes to be entirely correct might say, Azzarone comments, that it is “not fully verified.” While he was attending Berkeley College, he interned at an Allstate agency, and then – upon his graduation in 2013 – he began working at an Allstate firm. On March 1 of this year, his own firm – All State Insurance: Stephen Azzarone Agency, opened in Glenn Rock. Regarding how his Berkeley College experience helped him, he says, “They teach you so much, and at the core of it, even though [Allstate] is a big brand, this walks, talks and breathes like any other small business. It has a little bit of everything: accounting, marketing, management, communication – all of those skills and degrees go into what we do here. I was able to get the one-on-one guidance from Berkeley, and kind of hone those skills in the classroom, before I was able to implement them on my own.
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