Paul Dionne

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin School of Business
MBA Graduation Year: 2021
Current Job: Research Project Associate, Filene Research Institute

I chose the part-time Wisconsin MBA for the education, the credential, and to gain access to a broad and deep business network. I entered this program with no business background. Now I know a great deal about the language and practice of business, from managing balance sheets to setting corporate strategy, and from leading successful organizations to calculating expected risks and returns on future investments. Since my current work involves managing research programs across multiple fields—from HR to marketing, operations, strategy, and emerging technology—every aspect of the program has impacted my career.

Skills gained in this program helped me pivot to a new role that allows for broader societal impact and expanded leadership opportunities. From a background in anthropology, I have transitioned to finance-related research—while still in the MBA program. I am applying new skills and knowledge from my classes to my role with a nonprofit think tank devoted to consumer and cooperative finance. I am managing a robust and diverse research pipeline from funding, conception, execution, to publication of over 20 research outputs per year. And I am partnering with leading academics across the U.S. to activate research findings into actionable results for the credit union system. This career shift would not have been possible without what I am learning in my MBA.

I entered this program with no business background. Now I know a great deal about the language and practice of business.

—Paul Dionne (MBA ’21)

There is no perfect time to pursue an MBA. A close friend and I spent nine months working through our life and career trajectories and planning our paths forward to achieve our goals. I settled on an MBA after much reflection and research. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.” My wife was also an important factor in nudging me to pursue an MBA to further unlock my potential.

I learned the most from my economics class. It changed the way I view the world. I can no longer unsee the effects of market efficiencies at work! The program greatly developed my quantitative skills, in areas such as strategic cost accounting and finance, which has been especially valuable and has complemented the leadership and other soft skills that were already in my quiver.

The support of the career services team helped me successfully execute my career pivot during my first year in the program. The staff helped me understand my career background and trajectory more clearly and helped me better articulate my personal brand and value proposition. This was critical as someone out to begin a new career path.

The program has so many strengths. Faculty, staff and alumni not only help you reach your goals, they help you better understand what your goals are. I am quickly able to apply new skills and concepts at work. The teaching is exceptional, plus I am always learning from the diverse backgrounds of my classmates. Overall, generosity is a hallmark of the program. We all support each other in and out of the classroom, professionally, and personally. I clearly made the right choice.