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Why STEM majors should consider an MBA

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As you might expect, business acumen is pervasive throughout many other industries, like engineering, law, health care, technology and the sciences. If you’re currently in one of those fields, you might be considering boosting your business knowledge with an MBA to help you get ahead. But what exactly will you gain from an MBA?

In this series, we talk with MBA alumni and current students across each of these fields about how they are putting their business knowledge to use. After you read about how they benefitted from an MBA, request information about how you can do the same.

We asked current UF MBA students who have a background in one of the STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – fields about why they decided to pursue an MBA and how their business education is benefitting them in their career.

Gillian Dagan

Gillian Dagan, BS – Food Sciences and Human Nutrition, minor in Business Administration, ’00; Ph.D. Food Science, minor in Food and Resource Economics ’04; MBA ’20 – Director of Business Development, Research Services, Mérieux NutriSciences

With years of leadership experience on the commercial side of business at the global food testing services company she works for, Gillian Dagan decided to pursue an Executive MBA from the University of Florida to add an additional managerial skillset to her resume.

“I wanted a stronger foothold on finance and operations management as I hopefully move into a role that covers both commercial and operations,” she said. “I felt like my Ph.D. armed me with the right philosophy for researching questions in the life sciences and, analogous to that, my MBA will teach me not only tactical metrics, but also how to structure those metrics the best way to make good business decisions and monetize alternatives.”

Dagan has found that much of what she’s already learned in the program has been beneficial on the road to accomplishing her goals.

“I have used a number of concepts from organizational behavior and consumer decision making classes to gain acceptance of new policies and drive change within my organization,” she said. “I also feel well prepared from accounting and finance for evaluating companies that we may want to purchase.”

Dagan notes that her communication skills have also benefitted from UF’s Executive MBA courses.

“The writing and communications classes have permeated every aspect of my career – from emails to presentations, to my LinkedIn profile,” she said. “My communications are much more clear and concise, and drive others to action.”

Reid CarperReid Carper, BS – Computer Science ’12 (Shepherd University), MBA ’20 – IBM Watson Lead, Accenture

Having long been involved in computer science and technology in his college and professional career, Reid Carper was looking for a different degree that would expand his horizon.

“I wanted to grow my managerial, communication and analytical skills to open myself to new opportunities,” he said.

Since starting the UF MBA Weekend Professional program in 2018, he’s already been able to make an impact in his role at Accenture and in his work with clients.

“The business knowledge I have gained has given me a new perspective in designing the customer experience for my clients,” he said. “With the marketing background I now have, I know when to think about things like switching costs. [In addition,] the statistics background I have gained lets me read data in different ways and see problems from a different angle.”

Sarel Sandoval

Sarel Sandoval, BS – Mechanical Engineering ’15 (Florida Atlantic University), MBA ’20 – Project Manager, Terumo Aortic

Sarel Sandoval knew she wanted an MBA in order to gain an understanding of an important part of business – how leaders make decisions.

“As an engineer, I had a narrow view of business and my opinions were educated mainly by my engineering background and judgement,” she said. “As such, my opinions sometimes conflicted with leaders’ decisions. Instead of directly opposing management calls, I decided to pursue an MBA to understand other important factors that influence how modern businesses are run.”

With a job in engineering and project management in South Florida, Sandoval didn’t want to go far to pursue her MBA. Luckily, she didn’t have to with the UF MBA Weekend Professional Two-Year South Florida program located in Miramar.

Thanks to her UF MBA education, Sandoval now understands the operations of entire businesses in her industry from production, development, finance and marketing to managing human resources, she said.

“I have learned to target challenges and make better decisions using evidence-based management practices,” she said. “This approach has helped me advance my career, but also teach others to rely on data and statistical methods to reduce judgement errors and arrive at favorable outcomes.”


Want to learn more about how an MBA can benefit your career? Request information about UF MBA today.