Ready to Reset
Cara Kovach, Finance and Management ’13
MBA Candidate, Vanderbilt University
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Cara Kovach came to the UA from Denver. “Going into college, I was looking for a fun atmosphere and a warm climate,” she said. “Those were some of the priorities for my 18-year-old brain!” She also received a substantial scholarship that made it economically feasible.
“I come from a family of engineers, so I started in engineering,” she said. “I took a class called ‘what is engineering’ that went through all the various disciplines. I realized it wasn’t a good fit.” Still, she did think it was important to enter the workforce with a strong quantitative background. “I looked at finance and accounting, and the mix of theory and practice in finance appealed to me,” she said. “I thought a more quantitative-focused education would also make me more marketable to companies and to MBA programs when I was ready for graduate school.”
Kovach double-majored in management. “I connected with Rob Matteucci, who is the best mentor of all time,” she said. “My advice to students is that while you learn to be a good team player and a good individual contributor, you should also take advantage of the opportunity to build relationships with faculty.” Matteucci not only wrote her a great letter of recommendation, he also acted as a sounding board for Kovach on business ideas. “It’s been one of the most valuable parts of my Eller experience.”
After graduation, Kovach participated in a leadership development rotational program with Williams in Tulsa. “It was a great way to get a lot of experience in a short period of time,” she said. “The people were really welcoming, and I was surprised that a Fortune 500 oil and gas company had such a great family atmosphere. I had the opportunity to make another move to a hub location, but I chose to stay in corporate finance.” She also rotated through operations, investor relations, and as a treasury analyst and credit analyst.
“When I joined in ’14, oil and gas were doing well at about $100/barrel,” she said. “Six months later, there was a real nosedive. It really illustrated for me how volatile the industry is.” She got to see the volatility play out from the mergers and acquisitions side, then the reverse as another company tried to merge with Williams.
Now Kovach is beginning the next phase of her professional life as an MBA student at Vanderbilt. “I am looking at specializing in brand management and strategy,” she said. “I’m interested in consulting, perhaps with a boutique firm focused on brand management. I’m using all the resources at hand to decide what to do post-program.”
For other alum considering MBAs, Kovach has some advice: “One, do well on the GMAT, and two, there are lots of scholarships out there, especially for women. I found a scholarship through the Forte Foundation, which supports women in business schools.”
Top photo courtesy Vanderbilt University. Interior photo courtesy Cara Kovach