Director, Communications at

Building invaluable connections

In his communications role at a marketing firm, Mitch Goulding worked alongside senior leadership and C-suite executives fluent in business strategy. Despite his professional success, this was a language he didn’t quite grasp—and Goulding wanted to bridge the gap in his understanding. 

“It was a different, more strategic way of thinking,” said Goulding. “I’d always wanted an MBA, and it was a good opportunity to shore up the business fundamentals I didn’t have.”

Goulding initially chose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC’s) online MBA program because of its reputation and high ranking, but quickly realized how much the flexibility and structure would help him find success.

Putting resources to work

From his first interaction with an Admissions Counselor, Goulding was impressed with the level of support and intentionality he received from everyone at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. 

“The faculty value the students and put a lot of thought into the structure to create a rigorous, challenging online MBA program,” he said.

Of the many available MBA@UNC resources, Goulding most often used the career and leadership team. He scheduled meetings with career coaches to discuss everything from preparing for a promotion to putting an action plan for the future into place. 

“The fact that they have counselors and resources to help you through the entire spectrum of the program is really incredible.” 

Goulding also took advantage of the program’s international and on-campus Summits. At the Summit in Chapel Hill, he enjoyed exploring the campus, meeting classmates and immersing himself in everything the University offered. 

At the international Summit in Zurich, Switzerland—and three “Doing Business In” (DBI) experiences in London, Grenoble and Mexico City—Goulding enjoyed building relationships and experiencing international business strategy in action. 

“The DBI courses showed us new strategies or innovations being implemented that haven’t made it to the U.S. yet,” he said. “That’s a really interesting lens—these concepts may not apply to our current roles, but by learning them, we’ll be at the forefront when they inevitably become relevant in our U.S. organizations.”

Connecting from classroom to conference room 

From learning the intricacies of creating a balance sheet to introducing a new market within his organization, Goulding was amazed at how quickly the concepts he learned in class applied to his career. Getting to grips with the business strategy component of marketing allowed him to feel more comfortable and confident in his communications role. 

“My MBA helps alleviate any imposter syndrome I may have because I know I have the skills and exposure to contribute to conversations [with senior-level executives].”

One of the most significant benefits of Goulding’s MBA@UNC experience was building peer-to-peer connections and establishing a professional network. While brainstorming sessions and lively discussions were incredibly valuable, he also established friendships that will last a lifetime. 

“I went into the program thinking, ‘I’m going to study, do the work and get a degree.’ But I was surprised at the affinity I felt for the school, the program and the people. We’re already talking about planning an alumni weekend or going to a football game together.” 

Goulding appreciated that the courses were structured to allow students time to contribute their ideas and share current career challenges. This exposure to diverse perspectives and approaches helped Goulding to build an “arsenal of tools” applicable to his career right away.

“You can file an idea away for the future or learn how situations are handled in different industries. It’s very intellectually stimulating to be presented with so many approaches or solutions.”

Online opportunities

Goulding started the MBA@UNC program during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when online programs became more popular. However, UNC’s reputation for offering a rigorous MBA program was what led him to consider online education. 

Earning his MBA online gave Goulding a level of flexibility he would recommend to anyone. “I can’t imagine working an eight-hour day and then commuting to class,” he said. “I can leave a conference call that literally ends a minute before class starts and still be on time. I can fit so much more into my day while maintaining my full-time job and personal life.” 

Even when he was out of town or busy with work, Goulding could still go to class. The online platform also opened up options not otherwise available to him. 

“It’s only because the program was online that I could attend UNC. I wasn’t limited to whatever was being offered in my backyard.”

Goulding can directly attribute his career success and performance to completing his MBA in 2023. In fact, he was promoted to a senior manager role during his first year in the program. Subsequently, he accepted a new position as the head of public relations at a new company and, just before completing the program, was promoted to director of communications. 

“There was a definite acceleration during the MBA program of where I started and where I ended. It was an investment in myself that companies found valuable. My mind is much more open, and I’m a proud UNC alum.”

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