2020 MBAs To Watch: Chris DiBiase, University of Florida (Warrington)

Chris DiBiase

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

Army Veteran and servant-leader turned Consultant who loves finding unique solutions to hard problems.”

Hometown: Sanibel, FL

Fun fact about yourself:  I’m a SCUBA Instructor and was able to dive as part of my job in the Army.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I completed my undergrad at the US Military Academy at West Point majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  I served in the Army as an Infantry Officer for five years in the 101st Airborne Division and deployed to Afghanistan. Most recently, I worked as an Instructor for Army Ranger School, which was a fantastic opportunity to put my thumbprint on a future generation of combat leaders.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I interned with Johnson & Johnson as part of the Medical Device Marketing Leadership Development Program.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am excited to be joining Accenture as a Senior Strategy Consultant.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Merit Scholarship Recipient
  • Elected as Cohort Representative to the MBA Association Board, which develops extracurricular programming for professional development, diversity, and social events.
  • President of the MBA Veterans Association
  • Career Advisor and Peer Mentor to 40 students and team Captain overseeing 10 mentors

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a Career Advisor and Peer Mentor, I coach 40 graduate business Students and serve as a team captain to 10 other mentors. We advise students on career search strategy, resume construction, and interviewing.

When asked to interview for the position, I jumped at the chance to give back to my program because our career services staff had a significant impact on my future, and I wanted to do the same for other students. I was elated to not only get the job but be asked to take on a larger leadership role coordinating the efforts of 10 other mentors.

Meeting with students, I was amazed by how often we tend to underplay or underestimate the transferability and significance of our work. I loved helping them bring out the “gold” in their experience. Even the most discouraged students’ demeanor would change after showing them how their skills and achievements could bring value to employers. Nothing was more rewarding than hearing Students return saying, “I got the job!”. Knowing that I played a small part in helping them reach success, is incredibly fulfilling.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, I was serving as an Executive Officer and second-in-command to a rifle company of 120-Soldiers. I was responsible for planning and executing transportation, logistics, and load-out of all personnel and $10M+ in equipment to physically move from the US to Afghanistan. Naturally, the plan went out the window when we were asked to condense our timeline to half of the original.

As the leader, this meant I had to find a way to make it work. I was immensely proud of my team for putting in the long hours, remaining flexible, and ultimately completing our task ahead of the requirement ensuring that our unit of 120-Soldiers was prepared to assume a strategically important mission to the war in Afghanistan.

While it certainly wasn’t a glamorous mission by Army standards, I found immense pride in doing my small part, without which the deployment would not have succeeded.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Joel Huston has been my favorite professor. He teaches an elective on valuation that is outstanding. In class, he excels at catering to all knowledge levels and fundamentally changed the way I look at business problems.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The MBA Veterans Association hosts an annual Murph Challenge (which is a tough workout!) and fundraiser in memory of Lt Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor winner who gave his life to allow his teammates a chance to survive. At UF, we have a special connection to the Murph Challenge because another soldier killed in the same operation was a graduate of UF’s ROTC program.

I’m in the gym daily and really enjoy a good workout. Training with friends for a great cause is not only fun and healthy but rewarding! Last year, we had over 50 participants and raised over $1,000 for the foundation. I’m currently planning the Murph Challenge for this year – it’s going to be a great event!

Why did you choose this business school?  I was most impressed by UF’s placement statistics and career services approach. The director of career services from UF interviewed me, but this was different from every other program where I had little to no interaction with career services as part of admissions. As a small-program with ~30-35 admits in each cohort, I realized that we would have a lot of attention from career services, which was important to me leaving the military. Without a doubt, this approach enabled me to land with a top consulting firm and earn my MBA completely debt-free.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Remember there is always a person on the other side of your application. Because our MBA program is small, you can make a great impression by interacting with the admissions team, asking questions, and attending events either in person or virtual.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  The most common misconception is how to pronounce Hough as in the Hough Graduate School of Business. It is pronounced “HUFF”.

More importantly, some have the perception that Florida is a regional school that places MBAs into roles primarily located in the Southeast. In fact, over the past few years, we have placed a vast majority of students outside the region into amazing roles in companies and roles.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Be more present! Everybody in an MBA program works hard, but when I get focused on a task or a project, I focus almost to a fault. You could say I’m working on balance.

Like the Ferris Bueler quote, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nicole Howe. Her sheer bandwidth and ability to tackle multiple projects at the same time AND have an impact on all of them is amazing. Nicole and I have worked closely on several case competitions. She is an incredibly caring person and challenges you to be a better version of yourself by her own example and dedication. I and the rest of our program are made better by working with her. I would fight to work with her again.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue an MBA?  So many mentors and friends impacted my decision. Most significantly would be a close friend of mine from my undergrad. He had left the Army to pursue his MBA (several years before me). He shared his experience and what led him to make the decision, and ultimately led him to a career in investment banking.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? 

  1.  Work and live abroad.
  2.  Pursue an advanced degree in Economics, either an MS or potentially a Ph.D.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  A true friend and hard-working leader who left the program better than he found it.

Hobbies?  SCUBA Diving, Pit Barbecue, Going to the gym.

What made Chris such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Over the last two years, the UF MBA Program has had the pleasure of working with Anthony “Chris” DiBiase. There was no surprise, that as a former Army Captain and Ranger School Instructor, that Chris would naturally fall into leadership roles here at Warrington. Impressively, Chris has served in three official leadership capacities within the full-time MBA program at UF. Elected as both the President for the UF MBA Veterans Association and as his cohort’s official representative, Chris has clearly earned the respect and admiration of his peers in the program. Both organizations champion him as the voice and liaison to the MBA Programs Office. Finally, as the Captain of his Graduate Student Career Mentor team, Chris leads a group of 9 other MBA students tasked with supporting UF’s Specialty Masters students in their pursuit of full-time jobs and internships.

Chris didn’t waste time in determining how he could expand the skillsets the Army had instilled in him to become an even greater problem solver and critical thinker. Thanks in part to his interest in pursuing a career in consulting, he quickly began researching case methodology and took advantage of case competitions to hone his ability to troubleshoot business challenges under tight time constraints. Chis has competed in a total of 6 case competitions, taking home first in some and, perhaps more importantly, steering his teammates to safety when a Florida-bound crew was nearly stranded in Colorado after one competition due to snow!

Chris’s desire to maximize his experience here at Warrington went beyond Case Competitions. Knowing that this would be an ideal time to step outside of his academic comfort zone, Chris elected to take the program’s brand-new Marketing Analytics course led by Dr. Jim Hoover, Clinical Professor of Marketing. Dr. Hoover commented on Chris’s experience in the classroom: “The [new course] is very challenging mathematically and from a business explainability point of view. It requires that students have the ability to do both complex modeling and translation of the output of that modeling so that non-technical business leadership can use the analysis to make decisions. That is the definition of a combined Quant and Poet! Chris has one of the highest grades in this graduate-level course. He also has helped his class-assigned group develop convincing Marketing Analytics analyses and translations for non-technical business leaders.”

We are proud to have worked with Chris here at UF MBA and know that he will soon be a great addition to our Alumni Gator Nation. Upon completion of his degree this May, Chris will join Accenture LLP as a Senior Strategy Consultant.”

Carly Escue
Director of Hough Graduate Business Career Services


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