We continue our ongoing spotlight on Executive MBA students with a Q&A with Rex Minnis (Class of 2022)! Minnis is based in the Washington, D.C. area, where he works as Director of Software Engineering in the Center for Machine Learning at Capital One. Along with Jemuir Rivers, Minnis is one of the co-Presidents of the Black Executive MBA (BEMBA) student organization.
BEMBA is one of seven official Executive MBA student organizations, and one of the first student groups chartered in Darden’s Executive MBA program. BEMBA serves graduate business students through both academic and professional initiatives.
Interested in learning more? Check out our earlier podcast conversation with Rex and Jemuir about plans for BEMBA in the year ahead and read on for additional insights about Rex’s MBA journey.
Q: What is your background? What is your current role?
A: Currently I am I’m co-President of the BEMBA student organization and a Director of Software Engineering in the Center for Machine Learning at Capital One.
My background at face value seems typical as an IT professional; one that is enriched by a diversity of IT experiences across various industries along with increasing responsibility and execution complexity. I am a Learner fueled by a burning desire of continuous improvement and the enjoyment of acquiring new understanding.
I started in the Information Technology industry 20+ years ago, starting my career in the Royal Bahamas Police Forensic Science department as a Police Detective managing the Computer Forensics and Information Technology Unit. I have worked in Academia at Florida International University, and also in the Software Industry at Citrix Systems in Worldwide Operations. I am an experienced technology professional with knowledge in the implementation and management of various cloud and enterprise software systems such as: Amazon Web Services, UNIX, IBM Tivoli, Red Hat, Oracle, Machine Learning, Big data distributed compute, and various Open-Source technologies.
Q: How did you decide to pursue an MBA?
A: Before coming to Darden I had obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s Degree in Data Analytics. I had also amassed numerous certifications in a variety of IT related areas. However as I began to climb the corporate ladder I noticed a few deficiencies in how I was able to understand and communicate business concepts as it related to the IT industry.
It seemed that my perspective was limited to only having technical insight rather than a more comprehensive view of business intents. I always wondered about the underpinnings of strategic decision making, effective communication, and even the economics/finance side of the IT industry. It seemed advantageous to pursue an MBA to better enable me to have meaningful conversations, and make tactical decisions that would ultimately impact my career growth.
Q: Could you share more about the Black Executive MBA student organization?
A: The goal of Black Executive MBA (BEMBA) Student Organization since being chartered in 2017, is dedicated to the recruitment of Black business students and the professional and academic advancement of its membership.
BEMBA is one of the first student groups chartered in Darden’s Executive MBA program and serves graduate business students through both academic and professional initiatives. The organization conducts activities through the generous support and commitment of dedicated club members, alumni, school staff, and faculty.
In addition to its professional and academic goals, BEMBA hosts social outings throughout the year to foster relationships within the groups’ membership and the Darden community-at-large.
Q: What has this organization meant to you during your time as a Darden student?
A: As a Darden student, the BEMBA student organization has been a beacon of hope and reservoir of possibilities to members of the student body. Similarly it has enriched my life by calling to awareness my unique skills and helping me to realize my role in activating others towards positive change. I am so impressed with not only the caliber of students in the BEMBA student organization but the entire 2022 Executive MBA cohort.
I wanted to pursue an MBA program at a “top” business school that allowed me to foster relationships. I wanted the experience of personal interaction with professionals who I would be in a position to lend a helping hand to and if necessary, vice versa. I always wondered about the underpinnings of strategic decision making, effective communication, and even the economics/finance side of the IT industry. To my surprise BEMBA has augmented my MBA experience and facilitated much of what I seek to gain.
Q: What attracted you to serving as BEMBA President?
A: In retrospect, in high school I was team captain of the basketball team and I was also nominated as Student Council President to represent the student body and advocate on its behalf. Throughout my life as I joined many teams, I was chosen to be the Tech Lead or to manage a project. So eventually I embraced and pursued roles that allowed me to function in a leadership capacity.
As my leadership style is one of servanthood, my mindset is typically geared towards answering the question, how can I help? As a leader, I believe in providing focused solutions and using an integrative style of leadership while being conscientious of the group. I felt that BEMBA provided the perfect platform to assist individuals/organizations, to make meaningful contributions and encourage purposeful transformations as we share our distinct resource capabilities. When presented with the opportunity to serve my fellow colleagues I both inspired and privileged.
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