Winning Voices: Michael Fitzgibbons, Sr. Software Engineer at Home Depot Global Custom Commerce

Winning Voices: Michael Fitzgibbons, Sr. Software Engineer at Home Depot Global Custom Commerce

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.

Michael Fitzgibbons
Sr. Software Engineer
Home Depot Global Custom Commerce
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA 


I am a Senior Software Engineer for an e-commerce company specializing in home improvement product configuration and customization. Our technology framework provides customers with the ability to order products such as blinds, countertops, millwork, decks, and many others on the internet to their specifications. My responsibilities include translating requirements into development tasks, writing unit tests, fixing defects, and ensuring that we release the highest possible quality in our software products.

Why were you looking to get an MBA?

With more than twenty years of software development experience—much of that as a contractor/consultant—I aspired to transition from a position that involved less hands-on coding to a position of strategy and leadership. I will always love to write code, but I envision myself as someone who could hire and train teams of talented developers who have the same energy and passion for developing great software that I have.

What I lacked was knowledge of how businesses operate. I didn’t understand the budgeting process, operations, marketing role, and many other critical components of being a successful manager in any company. In other words, I did not know how to speak the language of business and communicate with leaders outside of IT.

Did you find the curriculum immediately applicable?

Yes, I was able to apply what I learned right from the start of the program. Although every course was highly valuable, the first two courses—Leadership in the 21st Century and Business Communications & Executive Presence—taught me how to lead and communicate in any business setting. Those two courses taught me as much about myself as they taught me about business administration. I learned about my leadership style, including my strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Never an incredibly confident public speaker, I learned how to deliver a compelling presentation with confidence. These are lessons that I will be able to use throughout the rest of my career.

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?:

My son was enrolled in an online program from grades 8-12, and I performed the role of mentor for him, so I felt that I had a good idea of what an online program experience might be. I wasn’t quite sure how that would work in an MBA program, and honestly, I was a bit skeptical. It didn’t take long to see that it works incredibly well. The discussion question (DQ) boards were structured exactly like my son’s DQ posts were, with the same weekly deadlines and requirement of an initial post and at least two peer responses. The critical difference was the requirement to demonstrate thought leadership. My ability to communicate with thought leadership improved dramatically because of the curriculum’s challenging questions and my professors’ high expectations.

The Experts of Practice (EOP) videos were also a highly valuable resource. What I liked most about them is hearing from leaders who were “walking the talk.” With a mathematics background, I am accustomed to college courses being heavy on theory and light on practicality. The EOP videos were quite the opposite. They provided valuable insights that can be used in our careers right now from some of the most influential executives in the world.


All of my professors were terrific, and I am thankful for each of them. Most of them were instructing me when I was at my best, which is why Professor Joseph Anderson really stands out for me. He worked with me during a period of great struggle after I fell behind due to illness. I wasn’t sure whether I could get caught back up again, but he let me know he wouldn’t give up on me as long as I didn’t give up on myself. Each week I felt stronger and stronger, and I was able to finish the course with the quality of work that he and I both knew I was capable of.

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

For new students who are preparing to embark on the MBA journey, I have three key recommendations:

  1. Plan ahead and get organized. Each ten-week course will fly by quickly. Staying on track is much easier if you know what’s coming up. This is especially important if you are taking two classes simultaneously because you could easily have two major assignments due on the same weekend. Schedule everything out at the beginning of the course and do your best to stay on top of everything.
  2. Take full advantage of the opportunity. You may come across people in your courses from the same city, undergraduate school, or profession. Get to know them. Invite them to be your contacts on LinkedIn. Invite your professors and other JWMI staff too. JWMI has a great community of people who all want the same thing—to be the best they can be.
  3. To borrow from one of my employer’s core values—work hard and enjoy the ride. Yes, this program is hard work if you put your all into it, but it is also a very enjoyable program. Have fun with it! It was great to see so many professors having fun teaching the material, which made it so much more enjoyable to learn.

Connect with Michael Fitzgibbons on Linkedin

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