Back in 2013, Daniel DiRocco felt stuck in a career rut. After four years working in sales for a major tobacco company, he was determined to explore new career opportunities, develop himself, and make an impact.
He started spending his nights studying for the GMAT and researching business schools. For Daniel, a full-time MBA seemed like the best way to make a career switch.
He was proved right. Just one month into a two-year MBA program at the George Washington University School of Business (GWSB), he had eight interviews and two internship offers for jobs in brand management.
GWSB is located just a few blocks from the White House in Washington DC. And Daniel enjoyed the school’s global scope – he worked on a consulting abroad project for a luxury goods company in Istanbul.
Since graduating, the GWSB MBA has helped Daniel reshape his career path. He now works as a solution sales engineer at Microsoft. He works with clients across financial services and specializes in big data and artificial intelligence (AI).
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at GWSB?
I desperately wanted to take my career in a different direction, gain new experiences, and had interest in international business and the global economy. Choosing a program that was global in both theory and its student body representation was a must for me.
GWSB is located only a few blocks from the White House and many of the world’s most important institutions which generates a globally minded population and alluring academic environment.
The major factor that led me to end up choosing GWSB’s full-time Global MBA program was its Consulting Abroad Practicum (CAP). Every full-time MBA is required to participate in CAP: a five-month strategy consulting project with a foreign-based client which takes place at the end of their first year.
I ended up working in Istanbul, Turkey, with one of the region’s leading luxury goods retailers on a brand repositioning and market expansion strategy. Needless to say, it was an incredible experience and large reason why I have such affinity towards GWSB.
How did your MBA help you transition into the tech industry?
Coming from a non-technical background and moving into data technology was a very tall task. Part of the MBA experience is about developing one’s professional skillset, learning how to manage endless priorities and deadlines, and through it all doing your best to remain poised while still focused on the goal ahead.
Enterprise technology is just that. On a daily basis I’m challenged to learn new technology, meet client needs, and remain poised in some of the most uncertain and pressure filled situations while staying focused on the metrics I’m measured against.
If I would have tried to work in my current role in data and artificial intelligence at Microsoft before the MBA experience it’s likely that I would have failed. I think I had already developed the required grit and work ethic prior to GWSB, but I wouldn’t have had the strategic outlook and breadth of skills and experience that I gained in the two years of the program.
What impact are artificial intelligence and big data having on the financial services industry?
As a society, we’re on the cusp of an industrial revolution surrounding data and artificial intelligence. Data-driven solutions that will have global impact and fundamentally change the way we live, work, authenticate ourselves, and pay for things are under development today.
To be more specific as it comes to financial service organizations, they are using data and AI to prevent fraud, reduce risk in the investments they make, develop new product and service experiences. New data-driven technologies like blockchain will continue to evolve and enable financial service organizations to redesign costly legacy workflows, improve liquidity and free up capital, help reduce infrastructure costs, increase transparency, reduce fraud and improve execution and settlement times.
As consumers, we likely won’t know where or when AI interactions take place in our environment, but we will likely realize the benefits of it through better customer service experiences, a lowered risk of identity theft and faster turnaround during application processes.
What advice would you give to someone considering an MBA?
I visited several of my top business school choices as a prospective student and would recommend any prospective MBA do the same. This is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make both personally and professionally and you need to do your due diligence. Set up a tour with a first year MBA student, interact with faculty and get a feel for the vibe on campus. I only needed one day on campus to feel home at GWSB and validate that it was right for me.