Alumni Spotlight: Mark Bixler, MBA ’13
Mark Bixler, MBA ’13, has always held a passion for business and a curiosity for the mechanisms that makes it work. He chose to enroll in Sellinger’s MBA program with a finance concentration to pursue this passion after making a career change from education to business. He is currently the Regional Finance Manager for Noodles & Company after stints in banking and healthcare finance. In this interview, Mark discusses the importance of the connections he made as a result of his MBA experience and his involvement in the Sellinger Alumni Mentoring Program that is available to graduate business students.
Why did you want to get your MBA? Why did you choose to study at Sellinger?
I wanted to pursue an MBA so that I would be taken more seriously in the banking industry, which is where I began my business career. With only a bachelor’s degree in education I found it challenging to get in the door during the difficult job market of 2010.
I chose Loyola’s MBA program due to its number of strong factors: its reputation as an industry leading business school; the Sellinger alumni network throughout Maryland and beyond; the fact that faculty and staff treat you as an important part of what they do and care about your performance; the variety of backgrounds in each class setting; and the option that courses are offered in-person compared to taking classes fully online.
Were you surprised at anything during your time in the Sellinger MBA program?
I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and the variety of experiences I had during the program. Through my coursework, my classmates and I enjoyed the experience of visiting a self-sustainable organic farm to understand what techniques they had implemented to achieve business success. We were given the opportunity to deliver marketing presentations to real leaders looking to be persuaded and we were instructed by professors that were living what they were teaching and rather than teaching from a theoretical perspective.
What about your Loyola experience helped you get to where you are today?
Unrelenting work ethic, constant learning and improving, developing people and treating them fairly helped me get where I am today. I learned about the importance of making connections as I gained networking experience and the confidence to excel in pressure situations. The experience helped grow my confidence to handle the volume and complexity of the work at higher levels of an organization while leading a group of peers on projects to achieve a successful result.
Why did you decide to take part in the Alumni Mentoring Program?
I was very pleased with my experience at Loyola. The teachers and professors I had throughout the MBA program were extremely helpful and influential. I wanted to give guidance to someone within the program to help in his or her journey, provide some strategies that have helped me succeed, and perhaps instill some confidence in a protégé, as well.
The benefit of this program, to me personally, is simply helping someone in the early stages of their career who is going through a challenging time both professionally and personally develop confidence and find his or her way. My goal is to create an understanding that the best way to help someone be successful is to help build their confidence and let them come to solutions in their own way.
How has being a mentor helped you apply the leadership skills that you honed during your MBA program?
It has helped me realize that the best way for someone to learn is through discovery and experience. I attempt to implement this while working with the teams I help guide and work with in my current position.
My advice to those considering the Alumni Mentoring Program is that if your calendar allows you to do it, then do it. It’s not a huge time commitment and can be very rewarding and very helpful to someone nearing the completion of their degree.
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.