2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Charles Baronette, University of Texas (McCombs)

Charles Baronette

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“A charismatic leader who pours purpose and heart into all career, personal and community activities.”

Hometown: Hyattsville, MD

Fun fact about yourself: I spent about a month as a farmer in Italy.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

The University of Maryland, College Park
Bachelor’s Degree in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Department of Energy (via Edgewater Federal Solutions) – Stakeholder Engagement Specialist

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Salesforce – Remote from Austin

Where will you be working after graduation? Salesforce – Remote from Austin

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Tech Club External Affairs Vice President
  • Board Fellow/Non-Profit Board member
  • Business Development Associate – Diversity Forum Lead
  • Graduate Business Council – Social Chair/ Community Engagement
  • MBA+ External Consultant
  • Elevate Diversity Conference Volunteer
  • Consortium Member
  • DEI Committee Member
  • Independent Graduate Consultant – Second Signal (Start-up)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? From an academic standpoint, I was proud to serving on the board of a non-profit organization called the African Leadership Bridge. The African Leadership Bridge provided scholarships and community to African students looking to use their education to drive change within the African continent. During 2020, the organization was at a crossroads deciding how its support model will help students in the future. As a 2021 Board Fellow, I worked to develop their new mission and updated scholarship structure. I was able to speak to many of the former ALB scholarship recipients to get their insight into how the organization helped them achieve their educational goals. During this time, I was able to use the skills I gained during my MBA to make a positive impact on an organization and the world.

From an extracurricular standpoint, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the entire MBA experience from admissions all the way to graduation. However, the thing that was affected the most was each school’s community. As one of the entering community engagement chairs, I had to balance safety concerns along with a fractured McCombs community. During the semester, I struggled to find events that would cultivate the McCombs student experience. As students struggled with morale and engagement, my fellow community chairs and I worked tirelessly to find something that worked. Through surveys and trial-and-error we were able to plan successful digital events such as the Comedy show, McCombs Got Talent and International Night. Through this semester, I was able to see the strength and resilience within McCombs community and myself.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at IBM, I worked as a first-time developer on a new cognitive engagement for a federal client. We were working on a big implementation to leverage some of their unstructured data to identify issues with deploying units. Prior to that, I worked primarily in business-related roles so being a developer put me outside of my comfort zone. The first few weeks were tough, making sense of technical documentation, spending hours cleaning dat, and coping with the feelings of the task being over my head. Despite the challenges that arose, I leveraged some of the prior skills as business analyst meeting with the client multiple times to get to bottom of their pain points and developed a system that would solve their problems. My team and I demoed the system to the client. It highlighted several trends the analyst where unable to see before. This experience showed me that there are not roadblocks only obstacles that I can overcome.

Why did you choose this business school? The number one reason I chose McCombs was the community. I wanted a business school where classmates were not only allowed to push each other, but also went the extra mile to help one another. At McCombs I can saw this both inside and outside the school.

During my interview weekend, I came in a few days before to get accustomed to the city of Austin. In the days prior, I tried to soak up the city through talking to locals and picturing myself at UT. At dinner one night, I found myself at a crowded restaurant with my partner discussing the MBA process. Little did I know the table next to us was filled with second-year students at McCombs. After overhearing our conversation, two had approached me later on in the evening to talk to me why they liked the program and to offer some assistance with the interview process. That is what stood out to me about the community at McCombs. It was always welcoming reflecting the southern charm of the city.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor would have to be, Brené Brown. She taught a seven-day intensive 7-day course on her Dare to Lead methodology. This course taught me not only how to carry myself as individual in the boardroom but how emotions should be celebrated and not buried at the office.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA tradition is the president election speeches at the Carpenter Commons. To set the scene this happens on the open second floor of Rowling Hall. The entire school circles around almost as if court is being held in ancient times to see the speeches and the future of McCombs. The event reinforced how strong the McCombs community is and that everyone has a say on how McCombs is represented.  See photo below:

What is the biggest myth about your school? The myth that Texas is only a consulting or energy school. Austin is at the center of technology, supply chain, sustainable energy, and our nation itself. Coming to McCombs I forged my own path (with the help of career management) for my internship and full time offer, so never let what someone else tells you limit your goals.

What surprised you the most about business school? The number one thing that surprised me about business school was how short it is. During the application process, you think “wow I’ll be doing this for two years” then by your 2nd year you are wondering where did the time go?

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? McCombs offers many forms of expression during the application process to get to know students. One thing I did that gave me an edge during my application process was making a video introducing myself to the admissions team. I took a chance to stand out. I called on my network and had a friend who was very skilled with video equipment who helped me (@shotbyblanco).

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The peer I respect the most is, Alejandra Tarquino. As Graduate Business Council president, she handled some of the toughest issues facing any community during her presidency from racial conflicts, political differences — and a pandemic all while keeping that entire Graduate Gusiness Council and herself together. She was our rock and a class act.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The most influential person in my decision to go to college was Ms. Phillips, my sixth-grade teacher. My mom earned her master’s degree so I knew education was a route to be successful, but I didn’t really know how I would capture my success. Being a little black boy who loved sports, I always thought it would be the NFL but Ms. Philips had different plans. As an older Caribbean woman, she knew the value of education and would stuff it down the classes’ throat any chance that she got. One thing she ordered us to do with every paper we wrote was write “I will go to college”. At 12, I did not know seeing that phrase every day on a piece of paper would embed the idea that I could go to college but till this day I know that it was only the starting point not the finish line in to my education.

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

  1. Work and live in the UK for any extended period of time
  2. Meet Marc Benioff

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? It is acceptable to work from anywhere, not just from your desk.

What made Charles such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“In addition to being, as one professor put it, “thoughtful, confident, brilliant, and a natural born leader”, Charles Baronette is known by his peers to be one of most warm, welcoming, and culture-building members of the 2022 class.

During his time at McCombs, Charles has made an indelible impact on our MBA Program, McCombs and greater Austin community. As the Vice President of External Affairs for Tech Club, Charles planned several events connecting students to recruiters at Dell, IBM and Salesforce, and mentored first years in their internship search.

As a Social Chair on the Graduate Business Council, Charles focused on community engagement; he helped plan diverse community events shaping the student experience of his colleagues despite the hardships of the global pandemic. Charles also helped plan and execute our McCombs Diversity Forum, a space for students and employers to connect on topics concerning diversity in the workplace.

Beyond McCombs, Charles worked as a consultant, helping Austin-based companies like CloudNerd develop a full go to market strategy and as a McCombs Board Fellow working with African Leadership Bridge, a non-profit focused on helping African students achieve an education at a 4-year university in the United States. In parallel, Charles has held many leadership positions within McCombs, helping define student experience and enhance DE&I initiatives.

According to career advisor Hon Lam, “Charles selflessly gives back to McCombs as an inspiration to all through his tireless work behind the scenes as a Business Development Associate for career management. McCombs forged a more significant partnership with Capital Factory thanks to his efforts. He was always willing to go above and beyond for classmates and alumni, working around the clock taking calls during a global pandemic to make sure the events ran smoothly every time. As a master of his craft and quick learner, Charles took on a few masters of ceremony responsibilities for several key McCombs events. He brought much-needed laughter during a challenging time to the community. He played an essential part in enhancing business school culture, brought more voices to the table, and built a greater sense of inclusion within our community.”

In everything he does, Charles leads with optimism and positivity – with Texas flare as he shows up with his ten-gallon hat and bright smile, visible even behind his mask.

Charles’ impact and admiration in the McCombs community is immeasurable and his Longhorn spirit is contagious!”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean and Program Director


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