Charles Cecil snowboarding with his dad
Charles snowboarding with his dad

Whether on a snowboard or in a boardroom, Charles Cecil loves a challenge.

Cecil will complete the Baylor University online Master of Business Administration program in July 2018. He already has nearly eight years of experience as President of Col-Met Engineered Finishing Solutions in Rockwall, Texas. The company has about 170 employees.

“As our company was growing, I was hiring highly qualified degreed engineers with MBAs,” Cecil said. “As we started working together, I saw how helpful their business experience was at working through our company’s challenges. Our company was getting out of an entrepreneurial mindset and moving into a more long-term sustainable business model that required me to create a different strategic approach.”

Cecil, who grew up in Plano, Texas, earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Colorado State University in 2006. He went to school in Fort Collins partly to feed his passion for snowboarding. Cecil returned home to start his career as a senior accountant at certified public accounting company Montgomery Coscia Greilich.

“The firm grew very quickly through helping clients solve a variety of accounting and finance issues. MCG is where I found a passion for helping companies learn more about their financial statements and what actions are needed to improve them” he said. “Col-Met was my client, and I was helping them improve their accounting systems and process. I enjoyed working with the people at Col-Met and felt that it would be a great place to start my career outside of the accounting firm.”

Bear Necessities

Charles with his wife

With a desire to remain in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for the long haul, Cecil was set on enrolling in a regional institution with a stellar business program. That’s when he started looking into the Baylor online program.

“My undergraduate degree was in Colorado, so I was looking for a program that was a regionally strong brand,” he said. “I didn’t want to have a degree from a program outside of the area, so I was looking at various programs in North Texas. The brand, the schedule, and the flexibility were the big factors for me. I had to have the online program flexibility, or it just wouldn’t be possible to get an MBA.”

On the personal front, Cecil and his wife, Ashley, have a five-year-old and a two-year-old. With the online program, he is able to squeeze in time for schoolwork while still making time for his family.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been easy,” he said. “I have had to create a structured schedule and do all of my schoolwork between four and six in the morning and on weekends.”

Cecil believes the majority of the information in the online MBA curriculum has been very relevant to his career. MGT 5402: Negotiations and MGT 5485: Strategic Management and Business Policy are his two favorite courses.

“I have appreciated the MBA program as I have experienced the classes aligning with our current business challenges. From negotiating the acquisition of a new business to dealing with employee issues, I have found the information relevant and applicable.

Cecil also took a school-sponsored trip to Washington, D.C., with the Baylor Executive MBA students.

“The Washington, D.C. trip was a wonderful way to network with other MBA students in the Baylor program while learning about the important relationship between the U.S. Government and the business community,” he said. “We were able to get access to some of the most knowledgeable people in the Capitol who gave us new insight into the overall legislative process. I would highly recommend this program to all MBA students.”

All Systems Go

One of the biggest keys to Cecil’s return to higher education is the love and support of his friends and family.

“My family has been extremely supportive through the whole thing,” he said. “My friends were a little surprised, but I’m always looking to grow to the next level. I would say that there have been three or four times throughout the last 18 months or so where work and life have gotten to a point where I have thought, ‘I don’t have time for this. I’ve just got to stop this and put this to the side.’

“I have a couple of good friends who told me, ‘Just keep going. Make a list and work through it.’ That was real helpful to get over those humps. Other times I can show up at work, knock out a week’s worth of stuff in a day and be done. Other times I am cramming it in at the last minute. You have to stick with it and take one day at a time.”

Cecil, who also enjoys church activities with his family, believes he is helping his son prepare to start kindergarten in the 2018-19 school year. “My wife said she enjoys seeing my son play Legos in my office while I study because it sets a great example of good studying habits,” Cecil said.

Once Cecil graduates from the online MBA program, he hopes to ascend even higher in his career and on the slopes.

“I want to continue applying my knowledge gained at Baylor while Col-Met grows and becomes more complex,” he said. “Overall, I’ve gotten way more out of the MBA program than I expected.”

Learn more about the Baylor online MBA program.