More than 35 UMUC graduates gathered at the Alumni Association's annual Summer Mixer, held at Fado's Irish Pub in Annapolis in mid-August, to catch up with former classmates, network with their peers, and benefit from the insight of alumni mentors.
Larry Schaberg '12 and Mario Fernandez '06 are both Marine Corps veterans and enjoyed a conversation about entrepreneurship and the growing field of cyber security. Schaberg knew he wanted to go into business for himself after leaving the military, and once he earned his bachelor's degree in Computer Studies in 2012, he did just that. Now, he said, he is building his web development business, LarschTechnology, and believes his degree prepared him well for greater and greater success.
Fernandez works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as a cyber security specialist/program manager in the Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response. His first assignment was with the Reactor Security Oversight Branch as a physical security specialist; he assisted in the development of policies and oversight activities for the physical security of nuclear facilities around the country.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Information Systems Management from UMUC, Fernandez assisted with the development of the NRC's regulatory cyber security program for nuclear power plants. It's a big responsibility, he said, but he knew that the education he received from UMUC and his nuclear power plant experience would give him the necessary skills to develop and complete the plan.
The Alumni Mentor Program was launched in September of last year, and it was apparent throughout the evening that the essence of the program—experienced alumni giving advice to those just starting out—was on full display.
Nat Alston '77, a former UMUC Alumni Association president and board member and long-time human resources executive at Marriott, chatted with Jerod Thomas '09, who earned his bachelor's degree in business administration and has started his own accounting firm, Capital T. Solutions, which concentrates on assisting small businesses.
As Thomas talked about his plans to expand his business and hire more employees, Alston, who now is president and CEO of the Horizons Group, a human capital consultancy, gave Thomas some food for thought about managing growth. It's important to know that different skills are needed when moving along the continuum of doing the work yourself to managing a business and developing a strategic plan for future growth, Alston advised Thomas.
An entrepreneurial spirit will get you only so far, said Tiffani D. Williams '08, who earned her MBA at UMUC. She talked about the excellent all-around business training she received in her program. In addition to developing a good business IQ, it is just as important to have a high "EQ," or emotional intelligence, she said.
Williams pointed out the roller coaster ride that is often experienced as you go through the ups and downs when managing your own business. That's where a strong EQ comes in, she said. You can have all the business skills in the world, but having a high EQ could mean the difference between success and failure.
No doubt, the evening was a big success, thanks to the good conversation, sage advice, and helpful tips that were scooped up along with the delicious hors d'oeuvres and desserts.