Melissa Pulliam

Operations

Business Leadership Program at Coca-Cola


Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I enjoy learning and growing through new knowledge. I had always had an interest in obtaining an MBA and when the MBA@UNC program began, the timing was right. I wasn’t sure where things would lead when I started the program, but once I began, met everyone in my cohort and my professors, it was like this lightbulb went off. I realized quickly that I wanted to be in business.

Why choose MBA@UNC?

I actually looked at a few other programs, and then someone sent me a note saying that UNC Kenan-Flagler was looking at doing an online program. I didn’t want to have to quit my job to go back to school. I had already done that once and I didn’t want to put my life on hold again. I started investigating MBA@UNC, and the idea of getting my MBA online. I thought to myself, “If Carolina’s going to do it and Kenan-Flagler’s going to do it, they’re going to do it top-notch, and it’s going to be an amazing program.”

When I went through the process of applying I still wasn’t completely sure I was going to go through with it. I filled out my application and let is sit for a while, because I wasn’t sure. Eventually, I got a personal phone call from the MBA@UNC executive director. After talking with her, I just knew I had to do it. She was amazing and just solidified the fact that the program was going to be absolutely top-notch. I went home and hit submit that day and I’m so very grateful I did.

What feature of MBA@UNC excited you the most?

I wanted the flexibility, and that’s what really attracted me. The other programs that I had been looking at were either executive or online programs as well. I wanted the flexibility those programs provided.

How did you find your career at Coca-Cola?

Through the NSHMBA job fair. The NSHMBA job fair provides several ways to apply for jobs. When I attended the conference I was able to connect with several employers and in various ways. Coca-Cola is a great example. I applied online for a job with Coca-Cola and I also had the opportunity to meet with a Vice President of Operations. I gave the VP my resume and we chatted. One thing led to another, and six weeks later they hired me to run a distribution center.

Do you think that being a member of the Kenan-Flagler alumni helped you get noticed?

Hands-down. At the job fair I was asked quite a bit about MBA@UNC because it was so new, and not many people had heard of the program. I felt like I was also selling the program while at the job fair. People were so intrigued by it.

Beyond the name recognition of UNC Kenan-Flagler, I had a lot support from my career counselor. She worked with me on my resume, prepped me for the job fair, and stayed in touch with me throughout the entire process. When I was offered my job, she was there as someone who I could bounce ideas off of; it was fantastic.

How has your MBA helped you throughout your career at Coca-Cola?

Working at Coca-Cola provides the opportunity to work and go to school. Working as a distribution center manager I was also able to pursue my MBA. In addition, I had the opportunity to participate in one of their business leadership programs. Ultimately, the pursuit of an MBA made me more competitive for the leadership program.

As I have had the chance to work in different parts of the company, I’ve been able to rely on different things that I learned in my MBA program and continue to utilize what I learned.

Also, another great thing about this program, and I’ve heard many people say it before, is you can be in a class learning about something, and you’re literally going through something very similar at your job. You can take what you’ve learned the night before and apply it the very next day. You can apply your learnings instantly. That’s just one great thing about this program.

What kind of relationships have you formed in the program?

I was a member of the original class (we jokingly refer to ourselves as the “original nineteen”) and we still are very much in contact with each other. When someone does something successful in their career, we all celebrate it. When there’s something great that happens in someone’s life—they get married, engaged, have a baby—we all celebrate it. We have a very unique bond. It’s amazing how close the friendships you develop in this program are with each other.

Any final thoughts?

This program, it was a life-changer for me. I transitioned careers, I’ve grown and advanced here at Coca-Cola; I really do owe so much to this program and to the people associated with it.


« BACK TO STUDENT & ALUMNI PROFILES