Monday, January 07, 2013
Alumnus counts ATiB experience as a key to successful career
When Oakland University alumnus and Chrysler executive business planner Razzaaq McConner, SBA (Marketing) ’01, has the opportunity to talk to Oakland students, he always urges them to look for opportunities to set themselves apart.
|Razzaaq McConnor attributes some of his professional success to skills he acquired through the SBA's Applied Technology in Business program.
“I always tell students to get as much experience as they can while they’re in college,” said McConner. “I tell them to work in teams, to demonstrate leadership. When they get in the workplace, the expectation is that they already have experience.”
McConner said he still benefits from the experiences he gained through the School of Business Administration’s Applied Technology in Business (ATiB) program, which educates junior and senior level students in information technology applications through corporate-sponsored projects.
“The program gave me indispensable experience that helped me transition to the corporate world,” he said of ATiB.
McConner, who was raised in Charlotte, N.C. and in Pontiac, Mich., was offered academic scholarships to several universities by his senior year of high school. It was the encouragement of his father, retired GM employee Ronald McConner, CAS ’82, who convinced him Oakland University was the right choice. He went on to receive 10 scholarships and student awards during his years here.
When the marketing major was a student, ATiB was a fairly new program. Founded in 1997 by Mohan Tanniru, now the SBA dean, the program was the first of its kind in Michigan. Today, ATiB boasts a high graduate employment rate.
When McConner learned about ATiB, the business minor program immediately drew his attention. Along with the practical benefit of scholarship money, the program also appealed to his competitive nature. “It seemed all of the top business students were in the program, and I wanted to be considered one of the top students.”
During his years with the program, McConner worked on IT projects for Fanuc Robotics, RGIS Inventory Specialists, Comerica and EDS. During each project, McConner found himself exercising new presentation skills. “I still remember my first presentation. It bombed so badly. Presenting to executives can be nerve wracking. I’ve gotten better since then.”
Looking back, McConner also can see the benefits of the teamwork the program required.
“Everything you do in the corporate world is in teams; you rarely do anything alone. Being able to work in teams definitely gave me an advantage in my professional career.”
McConner, who was recruited by Chrysler before graduation, now serves two primary roles there. As a business planner for purchasing and supplier quality, he collaborates with contacts around the globe. During any given day he could be working on strategy sessions, helping the communications team with presentations, or organizing volunteer and charity events.
In addition, McConner represents Chrysler as the executive-on-loan for the Michigan Minority Supply Development Council, a nonprofit organization advocating for minority businesses.
Throughout his professional career, McConner has maintained strong ties with Oakland University’s SBA. In the last 12 months alone he was the keynote speaker for the SBA’s first Undergraduate Student Recognition Dinner, served as an alumni panelist during OU’s Go Business Day, and participated in a video interview for ACHIEVE, the SBA’s professional and career development program.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Oakland University,” McConner said. “I owe it to the university to be an ambassador and give back.”
As an SBA alum, McConner said, he’s able to connect with students on a different level than their professors. “They want to see someone who’s in the field doing what they hope to do one day. And I enjoy interacting with the students. It keeps you on your toes.”