Student Spotlight: Carmen Gaddis

Learn about current MBA Direct student, Carmen Gaddis, and her journey to pursuing an MBA at SMU Cox.

The Dallas, Texas skyline

This blog post was originally published in May 2021, and was revised in June 2023.

It always felt like a matter of time for Carmen Gaddis to pursue an MBA after completing her bachelor’s degree. Growing up in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Carmen had her heart set on Howard University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2019. From there, she knew she’d eventually enter a top MBA program and elevate her career.

After completing her undergraduate study, Gaddis landed a position at AT&T with its B2B Sales Development Program, located in Dallas, TX. AT&T’s talent development program is designed for recent graduates and helps ease young professionals into a sales career. After only two years, she was promoted to a global mobility consultant role working with major multinational accounts, but she had even bigger aspirations.

Those aspirations led her to the SMU Cox School of Business. It was while working for AT&T that she learned about the MBA Direct program and saw it as her chance to channel her ambition toward a graduate degree program in Dallas. She was thrilled to hear that she could continue working in Dallas, a city she had grown to love, and enroll as an MBA candidate remotely.

Gaddis said she always felt a little apprehensive about how to begin building a professional network but it was one of her core reasons for attending the MBA program. She made it a personal mission to develop this network when she began the flexible MBA Direct program. She discovered that SMU Cox is one of the top networking MBA programs, a huge difference-maker in her decision. While classes are offered online, she knew MBA Direct students are given full access to on-campus facilities, clubs, events, and professional organizations. Given Gaddis was already located in Dallas, she could realize the advantage of the online program’s flexibility while still pursuing everything the SMU Cox campus offers.

While she loves the city, she also understands the larger opportunity within the DFW metroplex. The MBA Direct at SMU Cox provides students with hands-on experience in various global economic hubs through domestic and international immersion opportunities. Given that SMU Cox is located in the heart of Dallas, she sees working and pursuing an MBA here as an excellent business opportunity—a way to meet like-minded individuals interested in expanding their network and leveraging into new opportunities.

When it comes to professional opportunities, Dallas holds a spot at the top. Forbes ranks Dallas as the second-best place for business and careers. Texas is the world’s 9th largest economy, and it’s home to 50 different Fortune 500 corporate headquarters and 2.8 million small businesses.

The SMU Cox MBA Direct experience is teaching her how to juggle key parts of her life and find balance. In terms of managing a successful career and a top-tier education, Gaddis says the SMU Cox faculty have all been very supportive. She has monthly meetings with her adviser where the feedback is direct and impactful, enabling her to make informed choices about her classes and career.

She hasn’t quite reached the management level with about four years of sales experience, but that’s the personal and professional track she’s on and seeking to land. Although most of her education and career focused on marketing and sales thus far, the MBA Direct program opened her to the career possibilities in data analytics.

Analytics is a fundamental skill and a key part of the MBA Direct, one of its three Foundational Pillars: Leadership, Experiential Learning, and Analytics. This means, once she completes the program, she will learn how to apply analytics principles to any business environment. She hopes to leverage those data-driven insights into all of her future professional opportunities. At the end of the day, what Gaddis loves most is helping people. She wants to change the dynamic of today’s workforce, be a strong female presence at the table, and change the diversity narrative. “I hope to learn more skills to help me move throughout my career,” Gaddis said. “Then, also, just give back to people and contribute to diversity.”

The Online MBA at SMU Cox is an accredited Master’s degree program designed to transform professionals into business leaders. For students like Carmen Gaddis who recently completed their undergraduate degrees, the SMU Cox MBA Direct offers the opportunity for early career professionals to reach their career goals sooner. At SMU Cox, connection is at the forefront of our MBA programs. Make your first connection by contacting our admissions team to discover how an SMU Cox MBA can help you achieve your professional goals.