MBA in Finance Program Leads Warren Holland Into New Career Territory

Warren Holland enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Finance program at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) in hopes of making a career change.

“Accounting is so hard to break out of,” he said. “I always wanted to do real estate, but I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2009. My professors recommended accounting for job security, which worked out well.

“It’s hard to make a career change without that pedigree and confidence in your schoolwork. Going back to get an MBA is what every potential employer wanted.”

Holland hit the nail on the head. He landed a position as a senior asset manager at Ground Floor Finance, a crowd-funded real estate finance start-up, before completing his degree from USC Aiken in October 2021.

“The MBA has already opened doors for me in my career,” he said. “When I was looking for schools, I wanted a name-brand university. I live in Atlanta and grew up in Clemson, South Carolina.

“I wanted a brand that everyone where I live knows. I have a lot of confidence in the University of South Carolina system.”

The flexibility of the online format gave Holland the ability to earn an advanced degree while working full time, and he switched jobs while enrolled without missing a beat in the program.

“There’s no way that I would have been able to do it without the online format,” he said. “I was working 60-70 hours per week at my old job when I first started the program.

“Being able to go at my own pace is how I learn. I learn better by teaching myself a little bit more. It worked perfectly.”

Solid Appraisal

Holland stayed close to home when he finished high school and went to college. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Clemson University.

“Business is something I wanted to do because of the interest and the challenge,” he said. “I have always been good with numbers and had good people skills.”

After more than a decade out of college and in the workforce, Holland enrolled at USC Aiken in October 2020. The capstone course titled Business Vision, Innovation and Strategy was Holland’s favorite in the program curriculum.

“It was the best course that I have ever taken,” he said. “It was open-ended. For part of the course, we did an online simulation where … [we] ran a company from top to bottom — marketing, operations, accounting, finance and production.

“You had to know a little bit about everything. You started from A and were expected to get to Z. How you got there was up to you and your group. I read a lot of good books that I still have. It was a thoughtful and challenging course.”

Holland also thrived on the challenge of completing the online MBA in Finance program in 12 months by taking two courses per semester.

“You have to hold yourself accountable and be dedicated,” he said. “It’s important to be relentless in your pursuit to finish it one year. You should make a plan, be organized and stick to it.”

Due Diligence

The accomplishment of earning an MBA was extra special for Holland because he’s the first person in his immediate family to earn an advanced college degree.

“My family and friends are very excited,” he said. “It’s been rewarding. I woke up at 6 a.m. daily, including weekends, to complete schoolwork.

“My wife, Elizabeth, was very patient. She liked the format because we were still able to maintain a great work/life balance and go on vacations mid-semester. I could wake up where we were vacationing and still get my work done.”

Holland plans to walk in the commencement ceremony in Aiken, but he has already walked away with the reward he hoped for at the outset.

“I want to focus more on my negotiation skills,” he said. “I am doing exactly that now. Thankfully, I was able to do it early on.

“I was doing the MBA program and got some special projects to work on that I excelled at doing. I always wanted to do asset management. I’m there now,” he said. “The information that I learned in the MBA in Finance program is applicable to what I do for a living. I am using it today.”

An avid college football fan, Holland looks forward to continuing the hobbies he enjoys while working toward the next phase of his career with an MBA in Finance on his resume.

“The program at USC Aiken is a good value for an MBA. It was exactly what I was looking for. I had a great experience. Doing it online was a dream come true.”

Learn more about USC Aiken’s online MBA in Finance program.

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