2020 MBAs To Watch: Vladimir G. Charles, University of Florida (Warrington)

Vladimir G. Charles

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

A collaborator and connector – I try to make my community stronger wherever I go.”

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in Florida for my whole life except for the two years spent in Illinois getting my first Master’s degree. Post-MBA I will be moving to Seattle, Washington…basically on the opposite of the country.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • BS in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences at the University of Florida
  • MS in College Student Personnel at Western Illinois University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was the Assistant Director of Sorority & Fraternity Life at Florida International University in Miami, FL.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Microsoft in Redmond, Washington

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft – HR Manager in the HR Rotation Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I currently have the honor of serving my fellow classmates as the President of the MBA Association, the governing body for the full-time MBA program. I also serve as a Career and Peer Mentor (student career coach) for our Business Career Services and as an Ambassador for the MBA Admissions team. This year, I also had the opportunity to serve on the committee for the UF MBA’s inaugural Diversity Weekend event for prospective students.

During my first year, I was the President of the Human Capital Club and served as both the cohort representative for the 1st year cohort and as an Ambassador for the MBA Admissions team.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The achievement I am most proud of during my time in business school has been committing to prioritizing diversity and inclusion during my term as President of the MBA Association. When I ran for president of the MBA Association, D&I was an important part of my platform because I knew the immense value that D&I brings to any experience. This year has been exciting because we have experienced a significant increase in our D&I organization activities through intentional messaging and programming. More personally, I have been proud to have had the opportunity to lead the planning committee for our inaugural Diversity Weekend for Prospective Students event. This event showcased where the UF MBA is in its commitment to D&I and where we are going. This event has been very close to me and reinforced the idea of how important having the right team around you is when working towards a vision.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my summer at Microsoft, I interned with the Talent Management team for the Marketing and Consumer Business (MCB) organization. My main summer project was centered around our early-career population and involved a strategic overview of early-career activities within MCB and Microsoft. At the end of my internship, I make several recommendations to further the early career work happening in MCB that included creating a steering committee. I was lucky to have a very supportive manager, Tracie, during the experience who challenged me and gave me unique opportunities to lead in meaningful ways over the summer. At the end, my recommendations were received well and it reinforced that I was pivoting into the right field and company. I am excited to be returning and hopefully having the chance to do more work in the early career space.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor was Dr. Brian Swider, who taught the organizational staffing course. What I admired about Dr. Swider was the wealth of knowledge that he brought to class every day. I chose a career in human capital because I recognize how critical employees are to the success of an organization and Dr. Swider reinforced this for me practically and through the evidence-based methodology. Dr. Swider is also probably our best-dressed professor; it would be rare to see him outside of a three-piece suit… so game recognizes game.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event is Admitted Student Weekend. At this event, current students meet the students who have recently been admitted into the program. To me it is the equivalent of a family reunion where you get to meet new relatives. The UF MBA is a special place to be and at Admitted Student Weekend that fact becomes even more clear to the future MBAs and reminds current students about how lucky we are to be at UF.

Why did you choose this business school? I attended the University of Florida for my undergraduate degree and that was a formative experience for me and has been foundational in my journey. Aside from that, when I decided that the MBA would be the best route for my career pivot looking at a program’s ROI was critical in making my decision because the MBA had to be worth it from a fiscal perspective. I was also attracted to the intentional small program size because it gave me the opportunity to really have a tailored experience that might be a little more difficult at a larger program. You would be hard-pressed to find a program with an ROI as competitive as the UF MBA. I received a full-tuition scholarship, landed a competitive HR internship that turned into my post-MBA full-time role, and made some real friends along the way.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? After you prioritize crushing the GMAT or GRE, really think about what you want from an MBA. Once you know that, be authentic in sharing who you are and where you want to go. At a program our size, you cannot really hide, so if you are looking to get into a program just for the degree and plan on flying under the radar we will probably not be a good fit. However, if you are looking for an MBA experience then let’s talk.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That myth is because we are a public institution and have a small program, the UF MBA is not able to compete with the other competitive programs. My experience has been very different from this myth. My classmates have been placed in very competitive roles at major companies around the US. Even outside of the career space, the UF MBA has secured significant accolades from participating in case competitions and have won both team and individual awards over the years.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I have thoroughly enjoyed these two years. If I had to change one thing, it would be that I would have traveled more during my MBA experience both academically and socially. The UF MBA offers a week-long global immersion experience (GIEs) each semester and many of my friends traveled abroad to visit new countries during our breaks. I would have participated in more of these group travels if I had the chance.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire my friend and classmate Nicole Howe. Nicole has had a major impact on my experience over these two years. I admire her because, in my opinion, she is one of the hardest working individuals in the program both academically and from an involvement perspective (Gator MBA Gear CEO, Career and Peer Mentor (CAP) Captain, Women in Business President, and participating in case competitions are just a few ways she has given back). She is someone who has genuinely, and without reward expected, given back to elevating the UF MBA. Personally, Nicole has also been there for me when I have felt overwhelmed and has also been there to give me perspective and challenge my way of thinking. Nicole has contributed to my growth in this experience and I am grateful for her friendship.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My best friend Karim most influenced my decision to pursue my MBA. A few years ago, he graduated from his MBA program and I got to be part of his journey and learned a lot about the MBA. It was clear that my previous perceptions of an MBA experience were very narrow. I learned that preparing to be a future business leader through an MBA experience went beyond accounting and finance and included learning leadership skills, how to build a strategy around the ever-shifting global playing field, and much more.  When I decided to make a career pivot, Karim was a wealth of knowledge in helping me figure out if the MBA made sense for me and how to navigate my admissions process. Over these two years, Karim has also been one of my biggest cheerleaders and has been with me every step of the way. My mother and sister were also major influencers through their support of me going back to school full-time.

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

  • I want to do an international stretch project/role for several weeks up to a few months to get the experience of working while living in a different country.
  • Learn a new language (Spanish or French). This would be a fun skill to have and at the same time be helpful professionally.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Vladimir had killer dance moves.

Hobbies? I enjoy watching movies, cooking for friends, and exploring new restaurants. When I move post-MBA I am looking forward to picking up hiking as a new hobby to get into more outdoor activities and traveling a bit more (domestically and abroad).

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

“Vladimir Charles (UF MBA ’20) is a talented and motivated MBA student and also serves as the President of the UF MBA Association (MBAA), a student governing organization of the UF MBA Program. A major component of his presidential campaign was on the platform of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). His vision was to see his alma mater become a leader in fostering a diverse and inclusive MBA environment starting from the admissions process and continuing all the way to graduation. To achieve this goal, he worked closely with the admissions team to develop diversity-focused online information sessions and created the first-ever UF MBA Diversity Weekend. This recruitment event focused on attracting prospective MBAs who identify with an underrepresented race, gender, sexual orientation, or background, such as veterans. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from this event is due in large part to Vladimir’s dedication to this initiative and it will be a large part of the legacy he will leave behind when he graduates this year.

As MBAA president, Vladimir oversees 14 clubs under the MBAA umbrella who are actively planning programming, MBA Ambassadors who help recruit, attract and retain future UF MBAs and Gator MBA Gear, a student-run business that sells UF MBA apparel and merchandise. Vladimir’s job is to make sure these organizations run smoothly and are communicating with one another. He is often called upon when there is an issue that needs to be solved. Vladimir uses his background and understanding of higher education organizations to work seamlessly between these clubs and organizations all while keeping the UF MBA staff informed. Throughout his presidency, he has been an individual with great ideas but has also shown the commitment to be actively involved and contribute to anything that improves the quality and value of the UF MBA experience. When asked about Vlad, Dr. Philip Podsakoff confirmed this, saying “Many of the students who take my MBA course on leadership believe that the lessons they are learning in the class are only going to be applicable when they get into a leadership position in the future. That is why having Vlad Charles as a student was so refreshing. He was not only interested in learning about the skills he needed to be an effective leader in the future, but he was also intent on applying the lessons he was learning to increase the engagement of his fellow students in the MBA Program right now. As a result, I think that he is going to make an excellent leader in the future.”

Vladimir is also an advocate for his classmates by serving as a Career Mentor for UF Graduate Business Career Services, where he assists students with resumes, mock interviews, and general career search strategy.

Vladimir was able to transfer his skills as a collaborator from the world of higher education into the human capital space. He interned with Microsoft last summer as a Talent Development Manager Intern. He will return to Microsoft as a Human Resources Manager in the Human Resources Rotation Program.”

Janin Menendez
Director of Student Affairs – Engagement


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.