Meet Caroline: Syrup expert turned University of South Carolina International MBA student

Earning an MBA can help you accelerate your career, pivot to a new profession, or add a prestigious credential to your resume. But there’s one key benefit that isn’t mentioned often — the people you will encounter in business school.

As an MBA candidate, you’ll spend a year (or two) with a group of remarkable individuals and their unique life stories. The shared experience prompts new ways of thinking and possibilities and deepens your insight of yourself and your purpose. You gain greater clarity on what you want to do, and who you want to be, with people who could someday change your life.

At the University of South Carolina (UofSC), your classmate could be someone like Caroline Wright. A former brand manager of a blue-chip company’s syrup portfolio, Caroline came to South Carolina from Morristown, New Jersey. She sat down with us recently to share her professional accomplishments, personal aspirations and why she decided to join the Moore School’s 2019 International MBA cohort.

What led you south?
I have wanted to attend the University of South Carolina for a few years, primarily because the International MBA program is ranked the No. 1 program in the country according to U.S. News & World Report.

How has it been so far?
It’s been wonderful. The program is challenging, engaging and fast-paced. Our cohort includes smart, talented individuals with diverse, impressive backgrounds and skill sets. Every day, I learn something new and build stronger skills and networks. I am truly enjoying living in the city — I enjoy the green spaces, variety of beautiful public outdoor spaces and running along the Riverwalk.

Why did you choose your pre-MBA career path?
I have undergraduate degrees in International Business and Marketing with a concentration in Sports from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. My pre-MBA career includes roles in sales and marketing within a large internationally-based household company along with marketing roles for a US-based food company.

What did you do in your last job?
In my last role, I was the Brand Manager for the Syrups Portfolio at Pinnacle Foods (now ConAgra Foods). As brand manager, I owned the management, development and innovation of the portfolio which included core brands Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin Syrup. I worked closely with R&D, sales, and trade marketing, setting the direction of each brand and ensuring execution of key marketing initiatives to support and drive product awareness and overall brand success.

What was your ‘aha’ moment for applying to MBA?
I have always known getting my MBA would be necessary to propel my career forward. But one day I was informed that although I had a great career history and strong performance record within my current and prior roles, I would be limited in promotions and growth roles moving forward because I did not have an MBA.

How did you hear about the University of South Carolina MBA?
A few years ago, when I was researching MBA programs, I was searching for an internationally-focused program. I discovered that UofSC was a top-ranked option.

Why did you choose the University of South Carolina MBA?
With an undergraduate in International Business, I have always had a passion for global experiences and perspectives. UofSC’s MBA program makes global perspective core to the structure and focus while also offering specific career tracks, global immersion opportunities and key certifications. It’s a truly wellrounded and expansive MBA experience. The program’s reputation from academics to career support is unmatched.

What a typical day like?
I wake up and get to campus ahead of my 8:30 classes. I am taking five classes this semester so some days I have 2-3 classes back to back. After class, I typically grab lunch, workout and then work on homework, grad assistantship follow-ups, network or search for internships. I try to build in time to hang outwith my fiancé and friends and explore Columbia to maintain a healthy work-life balance. My school days are actually quite similar to work days. Meetings were replaced by classes and my project deliverables are my homework and professional skills development.

What do you like best about the program?
The program offers you opportunities while you’re a student and as an alumnus. As a student, you learn from and engage with smart classmates and top-notch professors while enhancing your professional skills.

How would you describe your classmates and the school’s faculty?
I am constantly impressed. The diverse backgrounds and individual experiences of my classmates foster fantastic discussions that enhance the classroom experience.The faculty are top in their field and constantly work to further develop our knowledge and thought processes.

What do you want to do after you graduate? 
After graduation, I want to work within a multinational company focused in marketing or global strategy. My goal is to work toward an international rotation and advancement to upper management in the next five to seven years.

Why should a prospective student consider the UofSC MBA?
A UofSC MBA further develops your business acumen and how you engage with others both professionally and personally. The job skills and life skills woven throughout the program ensure your development as a world class, well-rounded business professional who knows how to drive change and make it happen — with success.