1. Tell us about yourself.
I spent about twenty years in the banking industry after immigrating to the U.S. from Suriname (South America). While working full-time, I studied at the University of the District of Columbia where I received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a major in Computer Information and Systems Science. In the early 90s, I decided that if I wanted to advance my career in finance and management, I would have better opportunities with a Master’s in Business Administration. I graduated from Averett University in 1995 with an MBA in General Management.
2. What was your motivation for obtaining your degree at Averett University?
I researched different Executive MBA programs at universities in the area. Averett University offered what I was looking for: an attractive program that was affordable, focused on working professionals, convenient hours, and a campus in Tysons Corner (Northern Virginia) that was located close to my job and home.
3. Why did you choose Averett University’s Graduate & Professional Studies Program?
I wanted to progress in my career in the finance and management field, and felt that Averett’s program would fit the bill. The program did not disappoint!
4. How has your degree from Averett University assisted you in your career since graduation?
After I graduated, I began to look for positions that would challenge me and that required an MBA. I stumbled upon a job announcement in the Business Section of the Washington Post: the Treasurer of Arlington County, an elected official, was looking for a Deputy Treasurer for Operations with a banking background and an MBA. I believed that my experience and my MBA degree would help me get an interview. The Treasurer obviously agreed: he interviewed me, hired me and I spent the next eight years managing a staff of about twenty in the Operations Division of the Office of the Treasurer of Arlington County.
Since then, I ran for and was elected Arlington County’s Commissioner of Revenue in 2003, an office I currently occupy. Although elected, it is an administrative office. One of the most important lessons I learned through Averett’s Master’s program I still apply today: to be successful leaders we must manage through people. I have a staff of 52 professionals, all of whom are empowered and have taken ownership of their jobs and of the office. They include tax assessors and specialists, tax inspectors, tax auditors, legal experts, and communications specialists. During my fourteen years as Commissioner of Revenue, I have used my own career path as an example and encouraged employees to continue their education. Several staff members are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program.
One of the most important lessons I learned through Averett’s Master’s program I still apply today: to be successful leaders we must manage through people.
5. What advice would you share for current and incoming students in Averett University’s Graduate & Professional Studies Program?
If you are a working professional, learn as much as you can from the experiences of your study group members, while also contributing your own work experience. The most enjoyable events were the classes in which each group presented their assignment in front of the class. Do not be shy; everyone has something unique to contribute. These presentation skills will come in handy as you move up in your career, even when you end up in politics!