5 benefits fathers experience at UF MBAReading Time: 6 minutes
In honor of Father’s Day, we asked five dads from the UF MBA South Florida program about the benefits they’ve experienced as a father pursuing their MBA at the University of Florida.
- Motivation to pursue an MBA
“When I started the MBA program, my oldest daughter Natalie was turning 2 years old, and my wife was pregnant with our second child, Madison (now 10 months). Being a father motivated me since I realized with starting a family, it was getting more and more difficult to find time for an MBA program,” said Jerome Kalo (MBA ’19). “I decided it was best to enroll in my MBA before my children reached school age and additional time would be taken up by their extracurricular activities.”
For Kalo, who currently serves as Southeast Regional Finance Manager at Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, returning to UF for his MBA was always something he wanted to do. However, moving back to Gainesville for classes wouldn’t work with his job, and pursuing his degree online wasn’t his preferred method. Then Kalo discovered the UF MBA South Florida program.
“Since I graduated from UF in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in construction management, I always had the desire to return to UF for an MBA,” Kalo said. “I checked into a few different programs, but I preferred a classroom experience over online. The South Florida program worked out great because it was a lot closer for me than Gainesville.”
2. Stability in family life
“The UF MBA South Florida program offers a more traditional MBA experience that other options, like the Online UF MBA program, but still has the kind of flexibility necessary for a working professional with family obligations,” said Jason McNeese, father of twins Mason and Matthew, 5. If I had selected a traditional full-time program, I would have been unable to continue working in my chosen field, and I would have had to dramatically change my family’s lifestyle. Since the UF MBA South Florida program is only one weekend every three weeks, I’ve never had to miss dinner with my wife (due to evening classes), and I’ve had time to spend an occasional day at the beach with my children.”
For McNeese, the ability to remain in South Florida without uprooting his family has been a benefit while completing both his undergraduate degree and MBA at the University of Florida.
“When I was attending undergrad via UF Online, I was already working for one of the largest BMW centers in the United States, so I was able to study what I wanted solely for personal enrichment,” McNeese said, who currently serves as the Operations Manager at Eurowerks Automotive and Eurowerks Collision & Paint, a full-service repair and collision center specializing in BMW, Porsche and Ferrari, and as a consultant and expert witness on automotive forensics and diminished value. “I grew tremendously as a person while studying Criminology and Law at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but I didn’t have the analytical skills or the network that lead to success in business. It was later when I started to focus on career advancement that I decided to pursue my MBA, and UF was the natural choice.”
3. Program flexibility
“In my case, the format has been very easy to follow, and the fact that [UF MBA is offered] in the South Florida area really helped,” said Guillermo Munoz (MBA ’18), father of Transformers-obsessed Matias, 3, and lover of exploring every drawer in the Munoz household Ana Lucia, 1. “Today, I fly over 150 thousand miles a year, so being able to stay local without sacrificing on quality made UF the only possible option.”
For Munoz, not having to take time off from the position he is currently transitioning to as Director of Business Development with Boston-based bulk carrier CSL and ability to plan his work and family life while pursuing his MBA is a bonus. “After all, all classes are on weekends so there is no need to use valuable PTO. Further, knowing the schedule in advance also allows to properly plan around [class].”
4. Support from other MBA dads
“Being around other UF MBA students who are dads has been a great support community for me. A lot of my classmates are going through the same things in regards to balancing work, school and family,” said Mitch Showalter (MBA ’18), father of Noah, 4, and Emma, 1. “It’s great to have a group of guys to reach out to for advice, but also share stories of the funny moments that occur from being a dad. In addition, it is great to have people around you who understand what you are going through at any given time.”
Showalter works in Inventory Management/Asset Acquisition for Kellstrom Aerospace, an aftermarket parts distribution company in the commercial aviation industry, managing inventory for Boeing and Airbus Product Lines. He also serves in the Army National Guard as a Combat Engineer.
Showalter completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Florida, so staying a Gator was the natural choice when considering he was considering an MBA. Having moved to South Florida after graduation, the UF MBA South Florida program was the perfect solution to remaining a Gator and completing his MBA without having to relocate back to Gainesville.
“UF’s pedigree has definitely benefitted me in my career,” Showalter said. “I specifically chose the South Florida MBA Program because I wanted the flexibility to pursue my MBA and work full time without putting life on pause.”
5. Exemplifying leadership for family
“I am excited to exemplify for my kids that you have the ability to do anything you want,” said Eric Finkelman (MBA ’18), father of Max, 3 ½, a music, art and construction truck fan, and Elle, 14 months, who has love for anything food, her brother and Disney World. “This means following through with an idea you have, learning what it means to be an entrepreneur, paying attention to every opportunity in front of you, and challenging the status quo. All of their grandfathers have owned their own businesses, and I intend to do the same. Plus, it’ll be fun for my kids to see me in a cap and gown.”
Max is already intrigued by Finkelman’s UF MBA studies.
“My son has joined me on a few [UF MBA] team Google hangouts because he’s too curious to stay away,” Finkelman said. “On the weekend when I’m in school, it’s fun to tell my kids ‘I’m off to school’ because my son can relate. I’m definitely learning business concepts that I not only apply to my everyday career but will instill on my children as they go through assignments and tasks. I will want them to think critically about concepts and to put their best efforts forward toward any goal.”
Finkelman serves as a consultant for ecommerce and manufacturing companies to help them launch, optimize and scale their brands, and decided to pursue his MBA to bolster his foundational business skills while also expanding his network in South Florida. Being around other likeminded students and fathers has also been a perk.
“This program not only accomplished both [bolstering my skills and expanding my network], but fortified the confidence needed to run ventures or talk to investors about potential opportunities,” he said. “While some people can attempt to do this on their own, I wanted to be sitting with likeminded colleagues in the classroom, work in groups, attend the international trip (Japan was amazing!), and make friends and future business partners I will have forever.”
On behalf of the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers among our students, alumni, faculty and staff.