Winning Voices:  Andre Cross, Information Systems Security Officer, ManTech International

Winning Voices:  Andre Cross, Information Systems Security Officer, ManTech International

Each week, JWMI profiles students and alumni in its new featured series “Winning Voices.” Learn about our diverse community and what sets our program apart from those who have experienced it. For more great “Winning Voices” content, click here.

Andre Cross
Information Systems Security Officer (ISSO)
ManTech International
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA 

Tell us a little bit about your company.

I work for ManTech International on a contract with the Defense Health Agency, supporting U.S. military installations in Japan.

Why were you looking to get an MBA?

My tenure as a Federal contractor over the years has afforded me a unique opportunity for exposure to a broad range of experiences, from logistics to acquisitions to training and now cybersecurity (to name a few). I’ve successfully held managerial positions on several occasions throughout my career and found that I have a knack for organizational concepts and working with people. I’ve been pursuing academic goals since 1996 with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and felt that an MBA would be good for my professional portfolio as well as teaching me the skills necessary to bring these years of experience into a business perspective and prepare me to run my own business.

How has the JWMI curriculum helped you in your career?

The skills I gained through the Jack Welch MBA Program have noticeably shaped my leadership skills in a more robust way. I am able to “walk the walk” in unimaginable ways previously. Not only within my own professional realm, but I’ve also had a positive impact on peers and management alike. The experience has been very positive, indeed.

Did you find the curriculum immediately applicable?

I was able to immediately use the tools learned from this program. Most notably, the business plan development activities from JWI 575 New Business Ventures and Entrepreneurship was critical to landing a key role in with my previous employer to lead business development efforts for a short term contract providing IT security and governance support to a DOD organization in Atlanta. I was involved in the RFP response, budgeting, support planning, organization, hiring, and travel logistics for a small team of 12 professionals. Most of the work was performed from my location overseas, and the effort was a huge success.

Looking back at what you thought about an online program when you first embarked, what was your overall impression now? Did it meet your expectations via DQ boards, EOP videos, faculty, etc.?

When you live and work overseas as I do, the ability to obtain a degree online was extremely beneficial. JWMI has an excellent platform for distance learning that gave me the latitude to succeed in every way. Administrative support was excellent, and communication with the instructors and faculty was superb and consistent. Looking back, it is clear that JWMI had my best interest in mind and had a stake in ensuring my success as much as I did.

What’s been your most rewarding experience in the program?

There was so much incredible learning from this program; where do I start? I would say the most important takeaways that come to mind are the emotional intelligence and DISC profiles, organizing a workforce strategy using the 7s model, financial management, learning the playing field and product differentiation, value stream mapping, and the winning move.

How did you navigate school, family, and work? What strategies did you implement to get it done?

It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. But hard work, dedication, and encouragement from family and faculty made the difference. With all the international travel and military exercises involved with my job, it was quite disruptive at times. One thing that worked for me was to prepare a Discussion Question (DQ) or assignment at least a week ahead of the due date, particularly if I had a business trip coming up. I was on time for almost all my assignments, and the faculty were very good at working with me when I needed an extension due to work or life.

Please share any advice for new students embarking on the MBA journey.

For new students, there are a myriad of tools available at your disposal. Take full advantage of coaching, which is one of them. These individuals are here to assist and help you grow within the program, along with the faculty. I found having two computer monitors to do your work was a MUST. There’s a lot of multitasking involved with doing research as well as reading material and DQs and assignments. Balancing work, family, and school is a challenge but well worth it!

Connect with Andre Cross on Linkedin

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