Finding Success with a Business Degree
Current students and alumni from The Bill Munday School of Business share lessons learned from career experiences and opportunities they benefitted from during their time at St. Edward's University.
Anytime I had doubts about how I was doing in class or what I wanted to do in life, or even some abstract idea that I wanted to discuss with someone, I could always turn to my professors for advice.Dani Barcellona '16, MACT '17
Anthony Fragapane '18, Accounting Information Technology (AIT), reflects on the lessons he learned during his time at St. Edward's University, and how extracurricular activities and travels shaped his college experience.
- BBA in Accounting Information Technology (AIT), Class of 2018
- Participated in KPMG’s Summer 2016 IT Advisory Internship Program
- Accepted a full-time offer to join KPMG’s IT Advisory Team upon Graduation
Why did you choose to major in AIT?
Going into college, I was Finance major with a minor in Computer Science. I knew I wanted to do either finance or accounting, and I also knew that I had a passion for technology. I didn’t even know the Accounting Information Technology program existed until I spoke with Professor Catherine MacDermott about what I wanted to do with my career. She told me about the career opportunities this double major opens up for students, and after talking with Dr. Louise Single, the chair of the Accounting program, I determined that this was the best major for me, considering my interests and skill sets.
What do you enjoy about your coursework?
I enjoy the small class sizes. For me, the class sizes allow me to get to know my professors very well. This has resulted in many of my professors turning into mentors, providing me with opportunities to grow professionally, both on campus and in the business world.
What are some lessons you learned from professors or mentors in the business school?
In my Business Communication class, Dr. Michelle Region-Sebest taught me how to market my skill sets at recruiting events and network with professionals in my field. These invaluable skills helped me develop contacts at KPMG, and eventually, interview well enough to receive an internship offer.
How should business students build their networks?
Although St. Edward’s is a small university, the alumni network offers many connections in the business world. A great way to seek out these connections is going through your professors. The way I got my foot in the door with KPMG was through a KPMG associate named Alex Patterson, who graduated from St. Ed’s with a degree in AIT in 2014. I was introduced to Alex by Dr. Single, and he was beyond helpful ever since I met him. Alex was the guy that got me my first interview, the guy that helped me go the extra mile during my internship, and the guy that eventually pitched to the partners that I should be offered a full-time position. He’s a great mentor who has helped me excel both as a student at St. Edward’s and as a professional.
Have you participated in any extracurricular activities during your time at St. Ed's?
I am the president of the club lacrosse team, an officer in the Accounting Club and a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity on campus. I am also a member of the university’s Honors Program. Last summer, I was able to participate in a university-led study abroad program, where I was able to spend two and a half months studying in Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
I’ve interned on the asset management team at Vida Capital, which is a hedge fund in Westlake, Texas, and I’ve interned on the IT Advisory team at KPMG. I recently accepted a full-time offer to rejoin the IT Advisory team in KPMG’s Houston office after I graduate in 2018.
Have these experiences helped you clarify what you want to do after graduation?
Studying abroad helped me discover my passion for learning about and experiencing different cultures. I now hope to complete a one- to two-year rotation in a KPMG office outside of the United States.
What advice do you have for current St. Ed's business students, particularly those about to start an internship?
Attitude is everything. As an intern, the company you’re working for isn’t expecting you to do everything correctly the first time around. However, they’re expecting you to demonstrate that you can learn from your mistakes, ask good questions and work well with others. These are skills that are easy to develop with a positive mindset and strong work ethic.
Also, you’re never too young to do an internship. There are tons of companies that are willing to hire underclassmen and give them real business experience, as long as they show their eagerness to learn and work hard. I had a preconceived notion that I would not be able to complete a Big Four internship until my junior or senior year at the earliest, and now I am signed with one of the Big Four before I even start my upper-level accounting and IT courses.
After graduation, Juliann Butz ’16, Digital Media Management, landed a job as a social specialist for GSD&M, a major advertising agency in Austin whose clients include Southwest Airlines, the PGA Tour, Walgreens and PetSmart. In the role, Juliann shared her creative side and offered social media strategy insights that impact brand work.
Although her work now aligns with her interests, it took Juliann a while to decide on a major at St. Edward’s University.
In fact, she changed her major at least five times before choosing the Digital Media Management program. "I wanted a degree that integrated important business concepts with the current world of technology, communication and marketing," she said. "Digital Media Management is a one-of-a-kind degree that is only offered at St. Edward’s, and I knew it would prepare me for a job in the tech field."
Juliann delved into cutting-edge coursework that taught her useful digital skills, such as proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite and understanding of digital law and marketing.
Outside of the hilltop, Juliann gained international experience with trips to Thailand, where she photographed the country in a faculty-led study abroad program, and India, where she served the Bangalore community in a Service Break Experience program.
Both global encounters prepared Juliann for her professional career ahead. They not only help her express gratitude and perseverance, but they also remind her of the imagination she possesses. "I use my knowledge of imagery and photography on a day-to-day basis — when giving feedback to our creative team or when creating a social media post from user-generated content," she said.
In addition to traveling abroad, Juliann interned at GivePulse, an organization which coordinates volunteers and measures the impact of community service, and even worked as a head lifeguard for the City of Austin. Her social media internship at GSD&M, however, helped propel her application at the advertising agency.
During her time at GSD&M, Juliann said her position offered her the freedom to continue developing professionally and the support to pursue her goals. She attended creative meetings and status calls with clients, moderated social media posts and worked on a few analytics projects.
To keep up with rapidly changing technologies, she dedicates at least one hour a day to researching current digital trends. This helps her keep a finger on what users want and how to employ strategies that fit those needs.
When Juliann hits a rough patch, she doesn’t give up or back down. Instead, she digs deeper and finds a solution that works for everyone. She also reflects on what would make her more successful as an employee and speaks up to supervisors.
"Above all else, invest in yourself," she said. "Learn how to be a good communicator. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t know how to ask!"
As of 2021, Juliann is the CEO of Vivasana.co, LLC, where she works in partnership with conscious brands to scale their business by leveraging the power of their online communities. This profile was written prior to her current position.
Marcos Gutierrez MBA '18 applies lessons he learned in the MBA program directly to his growing tech business.
At 6:00 a.m., Marcos Gutierrez wakes up in southwest Austin and begins his weekday. He rouses his three-year-old daughter from bed, makes her a bowl of cereal and sits down to eat breakfast. Marcos’ wife, Simran, takes care of their six-month-old baby while he walks the three-year-old to school. By 8:00 a.m., Marcos is at the office. As the CEO of QA Systems Incorporated, Marcos has a long day of project review, cost analysis and strategy development ahead of him.
By 6:30 p.m., Marcos is heading home. He drops the dog off at the house (the boxer accompanies him to work), greets his family and then heads out the door. He drives to Munday Library and works on school assignments until midnight. Balancing MBA coursework with his company and family life is not easy, but Marcos is used to long days and little sleep. He has been working at QA Systems, now an audiovisual integration company, since a young age.
Keeping it in the family
Marcos’ father, Marcos Gutierrez Sr., started QA Systems in 1990 as an IT company, selling thousands of computers across the state, and at age 11, Marcos spent his summers working at the family business. He learned to build and repair computers and printers while other kids were visiting the city pool and playing games at summer camp. By the time Marcos enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin as a Spanish and French student, he was working as a repair technician for QA Systems part-time, traveling around the city and state for clients.
Upon graduation, Marcos dedicated himself to the family business full time as a technician. When he transitioned to CEO, Marcos focused on high-end networking and company growth. Reeling from the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and a staff reduction of 50 employees in 1999 to four employees in 2001, Marcos strategized how to shepherd the company into the future, with sustainable advancement. “I took over and started developing the services part of the company instead of just selling computers,” he said.
This leap into providing a service, versus providing a product, allowed Marcos to respond quickly to customer needs. In 2007, his clients started requesting audiovisual design integration for conference rooms and boardrooms, and now, this is the focal point of his business. Although Marcos’ father has moved on to other entrepreneurial ventures, they still meet a few times a week to discuss major decisions. “He’s taught me everything I know about running the company since I was a kid,” he said. “Luckily, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.”
A Bill Munday School of Business education influences daily perspective
Now that Marcos is back in school pursuing his Master of Business Administration, he gains new perspectives in company culture, strategic vision and change management, and he continues the family tradition — his father also earned his MBA from St. Edward’s University in 1983. Marcos’ classes, particularly Business Negotiation and Management courses, have taught him how to establish a vision for the organization, how to resolve difficult interpersonal conflicts and how to prepare employees for change, something he says is necessary for small businesses to stay relevant in the tech industry.
Since 2001, QA Systems has grown to 25 employees, and this growth is not by accident. Marcos understands that as he learns and grows in the MBA program, in courses ranging from Accounting for Managers to Marketing Management in a Digital Environment, so too must his employees grow. Following the dot-com bubble burst, Marcos focused on employee education and technical certification to give the company an edge against its competitors. “In one of our conference rooms, we have a wall, and it says, ‘Always Learning’ on it,” he said. “I challenge all of my employees to get certified.” Now, frames of employee certifications fill the conference room wall.
“I told my professor, 'When people ask me why I’m in the MBA when I already have a business I say, well, because of this Managing Dynamic Organizations class. This class teaches me what I need to know to grow my business, have the right people in place and pursue the vision that I have for the company.'”
Marcos says he benefits from MBA coursework on strategic growth and talent management, but he tries to apply each class to transforming his business. He also learns from his MBA peer group. From seasoned executives to young professionals, Marcos’ classmates bring different perspectives to the lectures, and this diversity helps him prepare for issues in the workplace. “It’s very important to learn to really adapt and speak to people with different personalities,” he said. “[In the program], you get to mix and intermingle with different people.”
He and his classmates hold each other accountable, even when personal life gets hectic, and although some of them are younger, with experiences markedly different from Marcos’, he recognizes what they bring to the classroom and what they can bring to the city of Austin. This convergence of experience helps him envision the future of QA Systems Incorporated and define the road ahead, but if there is one thing Marcos knows, it is that change is a constant in both business and technology.
Over the course of almost 30 years, QA Systems has transformed its business model three or four times to keep up with Austin’s ever-changing tech landscape, but being a local, family-run business has helped Marcos build relationships and serve the community and state in unique ways. The company has done business with the Austin Independent School District for 20 years and has even expanded its services to the Houston market.
With business booming and MBA courses filling in the schedule gaps, Marcos says his success is a group effort. “My wife is the one that’s really taken the brunt of the hit, and she works as well,” he said. “I couldn’t do it without her.” And although it pains him to spend five minutes at home between the office and library, Marcos says it’s for them — for his family and young children and for his growing business.
As of 2021, Marcos is still CEO of QA Systems Incorporated. He has since graduated from the Bill Munday School of Business MBA program.
I learned as much from my fellow classmates as I did from my professors. We took everything we learned — such as ROI, brand recognition and awareness, and marketing — and applied it to solve a business challenge for a company in the Austin area.Jay Kuruvilla, DMBA ’15