2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Tomas G. Cavero, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Tomas G. Cavero

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Nuclear programs manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Navy veteran, future Amazon manager.”

Age: 36

Hometown: Norwich, Vermont

Fun fact about yourself: I was born in Lima, Peru, and immigrated to the United States when I was 14 years old. I’m fluent in Spanish.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  1. Master of Arts, National Security and Strategic Studies, U.S. Naval War College
  2. Bachelor of Arts, Studies in War and Peace, Norwich University

Where are you currently working? I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a program manager in the Integrated Nuclear Programs directorate. My role is to manage a multi-million-dollar scope of work in the processing of nuclear materials and extracting unique isotopes for domestic markets.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest professional achievement happened while I served as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 2017. I was assigned as a ship’s Operations Officer and Safety Officer and it was my responsibility to enforce the Navy’s occupational health and safety regulations for a crew of 320. I was responsible for managing six junior safety-program managers and 23 safety technicians in the day-to-day execution of the program. Our safety programs were tested in a variety of dynamic environments, from a six-month deployment to the Middle East to a dry dock maintenance period featuring the extensive reconfiguration of installed safety equipment. Despite these challenging and high-risk environments, we didn’t experience a single significant injury during my two-year tenure. My program was recognized later that year with the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award, recognizing the best safety program in the Pacific Fleet for my class of ships. I’m proud of this achievement because I forged an organization that kept the crew safe through rigorous procedural compliance. This was my first experience creating a strategy for a mid-size organization, communicating it across all levels, ensuring alignment, and measuring the results.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? After leaving Active Duty in 2019, I wanted to pursue an MBA degree to complete my professional transition to the private sector. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck right as I was deciding which program to attend. Instead of enrolling in a program that was adapting to online learning, I instead chose a program designed from its inception for an online format. I chose MBA@UNC because it had a reputation for delivering world-class education with no compromises.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The best part of this online program was meeting people from all over the United States and from a wide variety of work experiences. This diverse student pool made for enriching classroom sessions, as my classmates’ work experience often complimented and enhanced the curriculum.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised with how many connections I would ultimately make with my classmates. I thought one drawback of online education would be forgoing the opportunity to build strong relationships with my classmates. To my surprise, I forged strong connections with my cohort at Summits in Chapel Hill and other unofficial and extracurricular cohort gatherings.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? There is much more collaborative work in an MBA program than in my previous master’s or undergraduate programs. This requires using different “soft” skills, like teamwork, collaboration, delegation, and empathy.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? You get out of an online degree what you put in. To get the most of an online program, get involved with student activities, and maximize collaboration with your classmates. Pivoting careers in an online program is more difficult than in a traditional full-time setting, but it is possible if you fully utilize the career resources available from your school and leverage the networks you build with your classmates.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would add more robust resources for career switchers, as a good number of my cohort is looking to switch careers and there are comparatively fewer resources available than to our full-time counterparts.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I was able to use the quantitative analysis skills I learned in my classes to solve challenging problems at work. That was one of the best parts of the program, being able to learn something in class at night and apply it to work the next day.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? No, but it allowed me to pivot to the tech industry. I’ve been offered a position as a senior product manager with Amazon after graduation.

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? I did not receive a raise, but I was able to pivot and switch industries.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 10 hours a week on average.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Pursue a career in the technology industry.



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