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Team approach
Work in groups a strong sell for college program
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From left, Danielle Moore, Chris Bray, Victor Parker, John David Rusk and Kaylee Varney review their project. - photo by Jennifer Sami

For more information on the Team MBA program or to apply, go online at
Perhaps the most visible sign of success for the inaugural Team MBA program in Cumming is that all 25 students returned for a second semester.

The business master’s degree program, offered through North Georgia College & State University, began in August. Classes are held Tuesday and Thursday nights on the fourth floor of Cumming City Hall.

The students, who began their second semester last month, have enjoyed the experience.

Kaylee Varney began the two-year program a couple months after receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting from the college’s main campus in Dahlonega.

Varney said once she’s certified as a public accountant and finishes the master’s program, she’ll be “a double threat.”

“If you want to move into industry or move into more of a management level, it’s better to have management skills, because that’s where a lot of accountants maybe lack,” she said.

“We’re so focused on our numbers and the work, we forget we’re supposed to manage people. This helps to make you more well-rounded.”

The decision to stick with North Georgia was as easy as her decision to pursue a master’s. The program, she said, has been better than expected, beginning with the Team MBA weekend retreat the students attended before classes began in August.

“By the time the three days were over, we knew each other really well, and it made it so much easier to come into this atmosphere,” she said. “It’s just more supportive.”

Students are tested individually, though Varney said a large factor in individual success is group work.

With the exception of guest speakers and testing, the same groups of five students work together for the majority of classwork and projects.

Group members range in age, experience and areas of expertise, said student Amy Davidson.

“We try to help each other learn, so whatever our strength is, we try to teach it to the rest of the group,” she said.

Like many in the program, Davidson has been out of college for a few years.

Davidson, who works for State Farm Insurance, hopes a master’s degree can help boost her into management.

“I want to be more competitive within my company,” said Davidson, who has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Georgia Southern University.

“I really enjoy it a lot more than I actually thought I would. I was kind of scared at first.”

Student Michael Hoffman is no stranger to the work force, or to a master’s degree. A quality control manager for a pharmaceutical company, Hoffman holds a master’s in manufacturing management.

He said North Georgia’s program is similar to his previous graduate work, and that dividing into groups is good practice for the work force.

“We work in groups and teams at work, so it lends itself to learning how to deal with that,” he said. “With the things you know about, it gives the ability to take the lead and be in a leadership position when that’s called upon.

“Other times it teaches you to be more receptive to other people teaching you how to learn things you don’t know. We all tend to support and help each other.”  

John Douglas, North Georgia’s director of MBA marketing and development, said enrollment has begun for the second MBA class, which begins in August. He expects it to have about 30 students.

“There are three main things we’re shooting for them to have,” he said. “One is to work in teams, the next is to develop leadership skills and the third is to have a global perspective on business. We are really pleased with their progress.”

While the program isn’t as large as those of other schools like the University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, there is no difference in the quality of the students, Douglas said.

For Varney, the program’s small size was a big selling point.

“With 300 people, you’re just a dot on a map,” she said. But with 25, you’re somebody, and the professors know you by your name and they can talk to you in a way that you can understand and you can learn better.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at jennifersami@forsythnews .com.