The value of the alumni network at SMU Cox School of Business can’t be underestimated. Cox graduates support their fellow alums all over the world — whether providing recruiting opportunities or professional and personal connections. These eight Cox alumni share what they look for in their recruiting efforts, the benefits of their time at SMU Cox and how the network benefited their professional journey.
Natalie Pliura, BBA ’18,
Global Markets Division Analyst
On the first day of training with Goldman Sachs in New York, Natalie Pliura looked around the room and saw graduates from some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Thanks to her time earning a Master of Science in Accounting from SMU Cox, she was accustomed to being in rooms full of sharp minds. Currently an analyst in the Global Markets Division, she also helps with recruitment for the Dallas team, searching for candidates from diverse backgrounds, including those at SMU Cox. She isn’t the first Mustang to find herself at Goldman, and other Cox alumni helped make her arrival in New York a painless one. “I had fellow Mustangs show me the ropes at Goldman when I started; I’m thankful for their guidance and mentorship,” she says. “Because of their generosity, I try to pay it forward to others.” In her recruitment efforts, she is looking for a diversity of backgrounds. Curiosity, collaboration, passion and communication skills are a must. “Cox students are well-rounded,” she says. “They are smart and professional but can also navigate a cocktail hour, sit on a nonprofit board or manage a side hustle.”
Jonathan Geter, MBA ’22
Associate Director of College Recruiting
When Jonathan Geter recruited at big-name business schools across the country for AT&T, SMU Cox students always stood out because of what he calls the “three Ps:” preparation, polish and professionalism. He found their ability to communicate business impact seamless. It led him to become a Cox student himself. After being immersed in the SMU Cox curriculum, the projected 2022 graduate of the Master of Science in Management program now understands why those students showed confidence in the business world. As the associate director of college recruiting at AT&T, he feels equipped to communicate the language of business to stakeholders. In a quickly changing business environment, he wants to grow his mental agility, and he looks for students who want the same. “AT&T is rapidly changing, and we need our recruits to be nimble in leading through transformation,” he says. Geter says he’s impressed by the top-notch faculty at Cox. He advises other students to take advantage of the career services. “I can say that from an employer’s perspective, Cox truly champions its students and makes sure that folks are set up for success,” he says.
Lauren Taylor, BBA ’07
Managing Director and Partner
Boston Consulting Group
The consulting world is one that requires quick thinking and problem-solving. Consultants need to find the balance between creativity and practicality to bring innovative solutions to life. Lauren Taylor is an SMU Cox 2007 graduate who recruits for Boston Consulting Group in Dallas, where she is managing director and partner. She has found many Mustangs to join her at BCG in her 13 years with the firm, and she finds that Cox graduates “are always up for solving tough problems in innovative ways.” She is always on the lookout for driven, passionate and humble students who can embrace BCG’s culture and the opportunity to learn and grow. Her time at Cox helped her accumulate knowledge, connect with others and draw inspiration from business leaders, one of the great advantages of going to school in the active Dallas business community. “[The students] are truly supercharged by their community and will apply what they’ve learned from this exposure to the work they do each day,” she says. Launching a successful career requires a strong foundation, which is exactly what Taylor found during her time at Cox. “Where you go from there is up to you,” she says.
Gregory Kitt, BBA ’08
General Partner of Investments
Pinnacle Family Office
After graduating from SMU Cox in 2008, Gregory Kitt found himself in Shanghai, putting his minor in Chinese language to work. However, he didn’t know a single person in his new home. That’s when the SMU Cox network sprang into action. Kitt made friends, found business connections and built his network via a basketball league with fellow SMU alumni in Shanghai. Kitt is now general partner of investments for Pinnacle Family Office, following roles at an investment bank in China and a hedge fund in California. He is no stranger to interacting with Cox students and giving back. Kitt serves on the Cox Alumni Association Board, mentors undergraduates and occasionally makes presentations for students. For its most recent hires, his firm did not bother recruiting outside of SMU Cox, and they found two alums who have “wildly exceeded expectations.” Kitt has been impressed with Cox graduates’ boldness and desire to connect. That balance of know-how, emotional maturity and drive are what separates Cox students, Kitt says. “Cox students have the drive to perform while being cognizant of interpersonal relationships and company culture.”
Libby Magliolo, MBA ’13
Sales and Training Development
Libby Magliolo encourages SMU Cox students to get out of their comfort zones while in school. “You’ll learn a great deal from the process, and you’ll also exercise the muscle of trying new things,” she says. Magliolo is a Cox MBA graduate who leads the sales and training development team at Southwest Airlines and credits the School with preparing her for her post-MBA career. She appreciates the mix of hard business and soft skills that students develop while at Cox, and she knows the students have the skills they need or that they will learn what they need to along the way. “Subject-specific knowledge can be taught, but a great attitude and willingness to collaborate, as well as a mindset around learning and continuous improvement, are big differentiators,” she says. While corporate America has a long way to go in representing diverse voices in leadership, Magliolo appreciates the female voices she learned from at Cox, “who went out of their way to support female MBA students at every stage during school and during their careers.”
Michel Lee, MSM ’16
Director of Accounts and Operations
Michel Lee’s career has taken him all over the world. Beginning his professional life as a manager at a commercial real estate investment firm in São Paolo, he is now director of accounts and operations at Strop Insights, a Dallas-based market research firm whose clients include Pizza Hut, Cricket, Travelocity and the city of Dallas. He earned his Master of Science in Management in 2016 from SMU Cox and embraces his role in giving back to the School. “Whether being a mentor to students in and out of the classroom or participating in recruiting events, I find all student interactions incredibly fulfilling,” he says. When looking for new recruits, Lee knows that one can only tell so much from a stack of résumés or a brief face-to-face interview. Work ethic and coachable spirit don’t always come through during these interactions, but he knows Cox students have what it takes to be successful. He thinks current students shouldn’t be afraid to push themselves. He knows the program will provide the needed support to launch a successful career.
Brittany Efantis, MSBA ’18,
Prism Analytics Consultant
For Brittany Efantis, hands-on experience in the corporate world sets SMU Cox apart. She graduated with a master’s degree in business analytics in 2018 and is currently enrolled in the One-Year MBA program, during which she has enjoyed solving business problems, gaining a global perspective and developing a framework for leading teams. The collaboration between students and professors prepared her well for the variety of clients and industries with whom she consults at Accenture, combining strategy and analytics to impact human resources operations. Efantis helps out with recruiting efforts and has found Cox students to be well-rounded and ready to contribute. She knows they have experienced top-notch academic learning that is integrated with the corporate partners readily available in Dallas. Efantis appreciates the leading-edge curriculum, where innovation keeps students relevant in today’s quickly changing business environment and sets them apart from other graduate students. What advice does she give to current students? “Be yourself. Embrace learning. Seize opportunities.”
Michael Kelly, MBA ’15
Last Mile Delivery, Amazon
When you work in finance for the third-largest company in the world, you have to be able to manage teams, work with partners, find efficiencies and navigate solutions. Michael Kelly’s role as finance manager supporting Amazon’s Last Mile Delivery gives him the opportunity to do just that while helping essential deliveries get to doorsteps around the world. Working on Last Mile Delivery already required complex problem-solving skills — and doing so during a pandemic allowed Kelly to lean on the stress-management skills he developed during his time earning an MBA at SMU Cox. Kelly appreciated the opportunity to be mentored by C-suite executives during his time in school, giving him real-world connection to what he learned in the classroom. “The Cox School encourages its students to think beyond legacy business practices.” When he is recruiting students, he looks for their ability to pinpoint the complexity and scale of their career progression and how they give back to their community. When students look to land a job, Kelly says they should find a place where they can be stretched.