Advisory & Assurance Specialist at Cox Enterprises
Since earning her undergraduate degree in 2012, Nneka Ekechukwu has been working in security and privacy for some of the largest companies in the world. Now, she is ready to supplement her technical skills with the management capabilities needed to move into a leadership role. Through MBA@UNC, Nneka is balancing a world-class MBA education, a full-time job, time with family and friends, and a long-distance relationship. This is her story.
“Being early in my career, I wanted an MBA that would help me build stronger leadership skills and a better presence among executives. I was lucky to fall into an industry that’s growing so fast; I want to expand my abilities.”
Why UNC? Why Online?
Nneka is at a point in her career when leaving her job to attend school full time would put her at risk of setting her back. She is also an avid traveler whose fiancé is pursuing a graduate degree of his own. With so many important commitments and goals on her plate, flexibility in her education is critical.
“I originally applied to six top-20 full-time programs and just one part-time program — MBA@UNC. There is a lot going on in the privacy/security space, and I was afraid if I left for a year or two I would really be missing out on a lot. So I made the decision to go with the program that allowed me to continue working full time.”
Drawing Inspiration from Classmates
Nneka was drawn to the program by the reputation of the UNC Kenan-Flagler curriculum. Quickly however, she realized that the quality of her peers could help her improve as a business leader as well. The diversity and unique perspectives of her classmates have helped Nneka develop the skills to expand within her current field, as well as transition to a new functional role.
“The program is really helping me communicate with other departments in their language. I love what I do now and there is a lot of opportunity for me, but at the same time, I’m also interested in other areas of business like strategy and project management, so I love that I am developing those skills as well.”
Managing Relationships and Forming New Ones
Be it friends, family or colleagues, Nneka’s strong support system has helped make earning an MBA a much less daunting task for her. Whether it be her mother understanding that twice-daily phone calls may have to be put on hold, or her fiancé accepting that she may be doing math homework while watching a movie, Nneka leans on the people in her life to help her balance a challenging workload. She is also enjoying the support she receives from the MBA@UNC community.
“I was incredibly surprised by the high level of interaction. After sitting in a class during my admissions process and then actually experiencing it for the first time, I really was just blown away by how much I’ve really gotten to know a lot of my classmates, both within the class and then with the group projects.”