Alumni Spotlight: Alfred N. D. Smith III ’04
Sprinting Up the Corporate Ladder
Generally every student attending a graduate degree program does so with the intent of career progression, eventually. But Alfred N. D. Smith III, MS Technology Management ’04, may take the record for the quickest career transition up the ladder while still in a program.
“When I began the program I was an individual contributor on a government contract,” Smith says. “I challenged myself to apply the information being provided during our class sessions throughout the week, as I performed an ever-increasing variety of managerial tasks.”That challenge paid off. During the program, Smith moved up the ladder at Welkin Associates, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of CSC, starting as an individual contributor to a section lead and transitioning to a program management position. Since graduating, he was promoted to director and then vice president of Welkin, the most senior executive position at the company.For Smith, each course was a springboard to the next, adding a new step on the ladder for him to climb.
A humble military veteran, Smith says “I’ve had few obstacles in my life, but countless challenges. I guess it’s all in how you define obstacles.”
Smith served in the United States Army as a cryptologist for more than 21 years, and as a senior officer in charge of several multidisciplinary teams including Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force and civilian personnel during both Haiti and Somalia deployments.
When Smith retired from the Army, he had little formal education related to IT but was able to secure a job with Welkin based on his stellar military service and reputation.
“The absence of formal education in business or management would have served as an obstacle or challenge to my managing and influencing the policies that govern my organization,” says Smith.
He chose to remove that obstacle by pursuing a graduate degree.
“The MS in Technology Management program at Mason was comprised of several elements that supported my personal goal to become a leader in the IT world,” explains Smith. “Its reputation within the industry supported my idea of where and how I wanted to expand my personal network. The time commitment and curriculum was sufficient to represent the technical rigor that supported the continued value of the degree I was pursuing.”
Smith says Mason’s ability to provide real-world insights while teaching the academics of technology management and its access to industry leaders that impact our nation set Mason apart from other business schools.
“The School of Management is remarkable in its ability to pair real-world business with the right mix of current and relevant academic resources,” says Smith. “The knowledge I acquired during the sessions had a direct impact on my ability to ascend within the management structure of my organization.”
A course in corporate finance was the moment Smith says he knew that his Mason education was helping him with his career. He took the opportunity to work with his company’s chief of finance to review financial reports that the company routinely provided. By the end of the course, Smith says he began to identify trends and even recognize why the company reported certain things the way they did.As vice president, Smith is the prime executive accountable to CSC leadership for all decisions on profit and loss for Welkin business to include margin improvement, operating income improvement and revenue growth. He has a strong record of achievement in both new business development and operational management, a history of delivering strong financial results, and is a proven leader with a solid record of building and directing successful teams.
“We all tend to expect absolute loyalty from family. Many of us spend more time at work than at home. Why would you expect less loyalty from those you spend the most time with? Be loyal and expect it in return.”
Smith’s loyalty to the graduate program that catapulted his career is strong. He serves as a member of the George Mason Technology Management Innovation Forum Advisory Board as well as a mentor to MS in Technology Management capstone teams in 2011 and 2014.
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