MBA alumna capitalizes on business skills to create change in her community

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Cindye CottonMoore School alumna Cindye Richburg Cotton (’14 MBA) is utilizing the skills she gained from the Professional MBA program to make an impact in the Midlands community through the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center (BLEC), a non-profit organization. Located in the former Lakeview/Northside School facility in West Columbia, South Carolina, the BLEC focuses on improving the lives of underrepresented community members. Read below to see how the Professional MBA program prepared her to make a difference in her community.

Why did you decide to pursue your MBA?
After earning two graduate degrees, a Master of Science in Social Sciences, and a Doctor of Education, I decided to pursue an MBA to sharpen my strategic, analytical and managerial skills. Additionally, I was working with undergraduate business students at a nearby university at the time, and I wanted to acquire knowledge and skills to support their academic needs.

Why did you decide to pursue your MBA at the Moore School?
I wanted to earn a degree at a nationally ranked MBA program, which provided an opportunity to study in a concentrated area. My academic focus was international business, and I knew this would be pivotal to expanding a study abroad program for the undergraduate business students I worked with at the time. Although I had already traveled to more than 30 countries, I wanted to increase my understanding of global markets in various regions of the world. I knew the Moore School would be a great return on my investment because it is one of the nation’s premier MBA programs with a global focus. The program’s rigorous curriculum and experiential learning opportunities prepare graduates for success in a global business environment.

What skills did you gain from the Professional MBA program?
I acquired a wealth of knowledge, study abroad experiences, strategic and business analytical skills. As a student, I traveled to several countries including Slovakia, Austria and Germany to study businesses and financial institutions. The MBA enhanced my marketability as a professional and helped me to build business leadership skills as well as a professional network.

What is your current job position?
I am the executive director of Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center, a non-profit organization that aims to create economic opportunities, improve educational outcomes, reduce health disparities and create a sustainable living environment for area residents. The non-profit is affiliated with the Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, South Carolina.  I am also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Management Science at the Darla Moore School of Business.

How do you apply the skills you gained from the Moore School in your current position at the center?
As executive director, I apply principles of business, management, leadership, strategic planning and consensus building among the Board of Directors and our stakeholders to achieve the goals of the BLEC.

What is the mission of the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center?
To engage and serve people of all ages and backgrounds while promoting advancements in education, health, economics and improving the quality of life for citizens of Lexington and Richland counties and the Midlands of South Carolina.

Why did you decide to work at a non-profit?
I wanted to make a positive impact in the community by assisting those in need and increasing awareness of the BLEC’s mission and purpose. Working at a non-profit organization presents opportunities to enhance the lives of residents in the communities we serve and beyond. I enjoy working with community leaders, elected officials and corporate partners to assess the needs of diverse, underrepresented communities in our region to make transformational improvements.

How would you describe your overall experience at the Moore School?
My experiences as a student and adjunct faculty member at the Moore School have been truly rewarding. As an MBA student, I gained extensive knowledge in domestic and international business models, research methods, finance and other important facets of the business world. And, as an adjunct faculty member, I have the distinct privilege of advising, mentoring and teaching the next generation of global business leaders.