Alumni Spotlight: John Cuddy, MBA ’85
John Cuddy, MBA ’85, has held numerous roles during his career: manager trainee, insurance sales, teacher, cook, taxi driver, psych aide, budget analyst, and since 1987, finance director and CFO. He currently is the CFO of Omni House Inc., a psychiatric rehabilitation program and outpatient mental health clinic in Glen Burnie, which works with clients from the public mental health program. In this interview, he explains what led to his decision to go for his MBA and, ultimately, his involvement in the Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program that is available to MBA students.
Why did you want to get your MBA? Why did you choose to study at Sellinger?
I was in the social work field, and after going through a career planning exercise answering the question of “who would you like to talk with at a party?” I realized that social work was not the long-term fit for my future. I discovered that the business side was a good fit, and decided to apply to Loyola.
I needed to continue to work while studying, so enrolled in the evening program. In addition, being introverted by nature, I felt that going out of town to a full-time program would mean totally starting over again. I decided to study economics and finance, figuring I lacked technical knowledge. I wound up working in the two fields I never thought I would be in – healthcare and real estate. How the world turns!
What about your Loyola experience helped you get to where you are today?
The habits of thought and analysis I learned through the Loyola program are what have sustained me, as well as learning the skill of finding the approach to solving a problem through the employment of people and resources. Loyola, as a Jesuit university, also has emphasized the necessity of being ethical and trustworthy. A small thing in terms of experience was taking a capstone case class facilitated by a faculty member with an engineering background; I appreciated that approach of precision and expectation of results from a particular case of action. That is, if you do A, B always results and if it does not, then you look for what has changed.
Why did you decide to take part in the mentoring program?
As I get closer to retirement, I wanted to “pass the torch” to the next generation of graduates. I supervise a management intern at my work, which is a similar process that I’ve enjoyed. I felt that almost 30 years of hard-won experience might be helpful to someone closer to the beginning of their career. When I graduated I had some help from a few faculty members, but I would have benefited greatly from some experienced advice.
How do you make your mentor/protégé relationship work? What advice would you give those considering becoming a mentor in the program?
We meet about once per month for an hour in the late afternoon, and make sure we go over any issues on the protégé’s goal list. I will sometimes throw in a few anecdotes to make my point, but spend a lot of time listening and asking questions to clarify what he wants to do.
My advice is that you may make a difference in someone’s life, and yours will be enriched by the experience of seeing a career develop in front of your eyes. You also have an opportunity to learn in a different way about business and relationships from another’s point of view.
What are the benefit that you have received from being part of this program as mentor?
One benefit is that, when presented with an opportunity to make a business connection, I have more consciously gone out of my way to help people connect. I enjoy the satisfaction of helping someone solve their own problem, be it job seeking, information needed, or mutual benefit.
I’ve also learned that one works through people instead of doing it yourself. As taught, the higher you go, the more you become a worker with people rather than a worker with things. You become more of a coach. It reminds me of raising children – you get to laugh and smile at other people’s learning and accomplishments.
The Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program pairs a current or former MBA student with a seasoned professional MBA graduate for a six-month period of insight and guidance. Mentoring gives Sellinger alumni the opportunity to stay connected to the University and counsel a student or alum, while protégés gain personal career consulting.