MBA@UNC Graduate: Jay Thomas

“I work for Bank of America Merrill Lynch,” says Jay Thomas of Charlotte, N.C. “I do securities research on the wealth management side. I basically advise those who give advice to our clients. I’ve been with it for about 16 years.”

A self-described lifelong learner, Thomas continually pursued ways to advance his knowledge and gain new skills throughout his career — be it by completing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program or enrolling in online calculus programs at MIT. “I wanted to formalize my business education,” he says.

Thomas always has been comfortable with the idea of self-directed learning. Plus, he needed the flexibility for both his family and his career. “I have a family and a full-time MBA program just seemed out of the question.” “When I learned about the MBA@UNC program by reading an article in the Financial Times, I thought, here is my chance,” he says. “I called that day and put the wheels in motion.”

And while flexibility was important, the caliber of the program was more so. The reputation of UNC and its top-20 business school were paramount to his decision.

“If you’re going to earn an MBA or any advanced degree it’s not worth the investment to have a marginally good MBA, at least not in my profession.” For Thomas, the structure of the program was a perfect fit.

“I had great interactions with my professors,” he says. “There’s no back row in the virtual classroom. Everyone is on the screen all the time — and there are no more than 15 students per class. Kind of unheard of in an MBA program.”

“We got really close as a class. From time to time, we would even use the system to have virtual happy hours and just hang out with each other.” “The caliber of my peers is incredible,” he continues. “We have scientists and lawyers and all types of people — of all ages. I really appreciated the diversity. In that two-year period classmates got engaged and married, had children and changed careers.We went through more than a program together; we went through life. I learned a lot from them.”