When Sarine Thomas moved with her family from India to the USA nine years ago, she fell in love with numbers. The blend of business and mathematics in a high school accounting class was right up her alley.
“For me, numbers speak better than words. When you’re calculating something or you’re trying to figure something out, if numbers are involved in it, I believe you can actually figure out what is causing the problem,” she said.
After high school, Thomas attended Longwood University for a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting. Soon after she graduated in May 2019, she enrolled in Longwood’s online Master of Business Administration – General Business track.
“I knew I could do this in one year,” Thomas said. “Also, I have to take my CPA exam within the next year or so, and I’m trying to get my credits for that.”
Thomas works full-time on the sales auditing team for Bowlero Corporation, auditing AMF bowling centers. Working full time meant that she needed a master’s program that would mesh with her busy schedule.
“It’s convenient to go to school online, and the information you receive online is the same as you would receive taking in-person classes,” she said.
Choosing Longwood for her master’s education was more than just staying in familiar territory for Thomas. She knew she would get a quality education from professors she had grown to trust.
“I did consider another program near my house,” the resident of Richmond, Virginia, said. “I definitely wanted to go to Longwood because I got to know the professors. It made it easier to connect with them and their teaching styles. Also, because it’s a small school, the courses are much more interactive. If you are emailing a professor, they will get back to you in two to three hours.”
Accounting as Leadership
Thomas found the MBA coursework challenging and invigorating from the get-go.
“My favorite class was the first one I took,” she said of MANG 564: Leadership, Group Dynamics, and Team Building. “It was interesting because we had to do an evaluation of ourselves, ask people to evaluate us and write a model. It was an important and interesting way to start my MBA.”
Not only was this class useful for Thomas’ work for Bowlero, she also found ways to understand her leadership style in many aspects of her life.
“The class itself is teaching you how to be a good leader,” she explained. “When I’m doing my volunteering and community service work, it actually helps me know how to be a good leader. I got to hear about the pros and cons of my own interaction with friends and others. They commented on what I did wrong and what I could do better. Having to write a paper about it, too, helped me grow so much in my leadership.”
Thomas was also able to dive deeper into her love of numbers in ACCT 540: Managerial Accounting, in which she built upon the foundation of her education and practice.
These two classes came together for Thomas as she began to see the ways in which accounting was in and of itself a kind of leadership. She finds opportunities to apply what she is learning in the MBA program to her job of auditing AMF bowling centers.
“In having to audit these centers, we have to maintain the expenses within certain limits,” she said. “Leadership comes in when I have to take on the questions to ask the centers why they’re short this or that amount. Taking that position and making them fix it right away makes a real difference within my job.”
Thomas is fortunate to have the full support of her family as she earns both her MBA at Longwood and her CPA license.
“They really encourage me,” she said. “I’m getting 30 more credits so I can sit for the CPA exam, which is easier to get through at Longwood. My mom really wanted me to go to Longwood and do the online program.”
Thomas’ desire to earn the degree on her own time made the online program a natural choice. She was already working when she started the program and was apprehensive of adding studies to the mix. But she has found the MBA program at Longwood to be manageable.
“I make the most of my time when I do have days off. It’s still a struggle but it’s worth it,” she said.
Thomas recommends that prospective MBA students consider Longwood University, knowing that the sacrifices they might make to get through the program provide immediate and future payoffs.
“I would certainly encourage others to take the Longwood MBA program,” she said. “It only costs around $12,500 for the entire program, which is less money than others. There’s a good amount of work we had to do, but it will apply in college and then in the future. In one of the classes I’m taking right now, we actually negotiate with others using FaceTime, so this will prepare you for jobs of the future.”
Thomas will graduate in May 2020, achieving her goal of completing the MBA coursework within a year. She expects her academic ventures will boost her career and prepare her for other types of accounting jobs.
“Right now I’m an auditor,” she said. “Once I have my MBA and become a certified CPA, I will probably get a promotion.”
Learn more about Longwood University’s online MBA program – General Business track.