'I've really felt at home at Clark': A Q&A with GSOM student CarrieAnne Cormier

June 17, 2016
CarrieAnn Cormier
CarrieAnn Cormier, a part-time M.B.A. student Clark's Graduate School of Management, has been highlighted in American Banker magazine and nominated for Worcester Business Journal's "40 under Forty" Awards

CarrieAnne Cormier, a local, part-time student in Clark’s Graduate School of Management, pictured above, spoke to GSOM communication specialist Meredith Galena about her experience, what brought her to Clark’s M.B.A. program and how she’s already utilizing her newfound knowledge in her position as vice president of retail operations and strategy at Avidia Bank. In approximately two more years, she’ll earn an M.B.A. with a dual concentration in marketing and social change, and she's already a nominee for the Worcester Business Journal's "40 under Forty" Awards.

Q: Why did you choose to come to GSOM versus another business school?

A: I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather was one of the original founders of Union Products Inc., the plastic company known for the Pink Flamingo! My parents also owned/operated a small business for 20 years in the Central Massachusetts area. I grew up in a household where creating and inventing was the norm. I have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and have brought that type of innovation and disruption to the community banking world. (Carrie’s efforts in high-tech banking were highlighted by American Banker magazine.)

I originally checked out Clark because my dad attended grad school there in the ‘70s. I knew it was a “good school,” but kept my options open and looked at a few other choices. When it came down to making the decision to apply, I was looking for a school that aligned with my vision and values. From the first time I attended an info session on campus, I could feel the entrepreneurial mindset at Clark and instantly knew this was where I belonged. And just seeing what Clark alumni have accomplished, it’s no surprise it was named one of Forbes’ Most Entrepreneurial Universities last year.

Q: How did you hear about GSOM’s part-time programs in Southborough?

A: I completed my undergraduate degree at Becker College part-time when they had their Southborough campus. I drove by the Clark building every week on my way to class. When it came time to search for a grad school, having a campus in Southborough was a bonus. I work full-time out of Hudson/Westborough, and the Route 9 campus was very convenient to both locations.

Q: How many courses have you taken so far and which have you enjoyed the most?

A: I just finished my first two semesters. I’ve taken a total of seven courses so far. I started with some basic ones – Economics, Statistics, Management Decision Models, Business in Society, Stocks and Bond Valuation, Marketing Management and Social Media Marketing.

My two favorite classes so far have been the Business in Society course with Associate Professor Priscilla Elsass and Social Media Marketing with Michael Lewis. Professor Elsass’ class helped me stretch my thinking. I enjoyed debating with classmates and talking about business ethics. It was so interesting to hear everyone’s point of view and how we all interpreted the business scenarios differently.

Professor Lewis brought a new level of learning to his course. He is a published author and has many years of experience in the marketing world. He brought in a variety of speakers and business leaders who had real-life experience with social media marketing and how concepts are applied in the business world. I loved being able to connect with the guests and ask them questions on their specialty. These are things you can’t learn in a textbook! And the focus wasn’t just on social media. He had us in groups building business plans for a startup company, then brought in leaders from hot new startups to be the judges.

Q:  Describe the learning environment as a part-time student. What are your experiences like with your peers and professors?

A: The most amazing part of Clark is the students and the faculty! Having lived in the area my entire life, I had a very blonde-hair-blue-eyed-Central-Mass view of the world. The experience and diversity that I come across at Clark is invaluable. Here, I get to meet students from all over the world and learn about concepts from their point of view. In my community banking world, we have been mostly focused on U.S.-based transactions, but as we continue to move forward in this global economy and start expanding our cross-border money-movement, having this perspective is so important!

I also enjoy the mix of work experience that Clark students bring to the classroom. I get to be in the same room as someone who has years of experience at a large corporation, someone who works for a small nonprofit and fifth-year students who are new to the business world. (Clark offers fifth-year tuition-free master’s programs to its undergraduate students.) Each one of them has a different view that I can bring to my line of work.

Q: How do you think your M.B.A. will help you in your current or future career?

A: My primary goal for getting an M.B.A. was for personal development. I saw Clark as an opportunity to increase my knowledge and broaden my perspective on the business world, and I sought the overall sense of accomplishment that comes with earning my masters.

I’ve been fortunate to work for a very forward-thinking organization that has a lot of opportunity for both personal and professional development. If I choose to switch and enter a different profession or organization, it’s likely an M.B.A. will be required for any executive management position. Having an M.B.A. from Clark would definitely make me a highly competitive candidate.

I’m also excited for my Clark experience to help feed my entrepreneurial side. I’d love to be part of a start-up project or own my own business one day.

Q: Why should a prospective part-time student come to GSOM? 

A: If you’re looking for a program that will expand your line of thinking and put you in the same room as emerging leaders, then Clark is for you. The part-time component with options in Worcester, Southborough and online allow you to build a schedule that works for you. I have a very intense work schedule but have been able to structure my Clark classes around my timeline. I’ve felt really at home at Clark.