OMBA Student Experiences Immediate ROI
With time and perseverance, Pegah Janpak carved out a foothold at the intersection of marketing and cybersecurity. Now, as she prepares to graduate with an Online MBA, she considers her Baylor experience to be one of the wisest investments she has made in her future.
For Pegah Janpak, the path to Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business was strewn with countless obstacles and roadblocks. While she is a shining example of the American Dream, there was nothing easy about the years she spent hustling and grinding her way to a thriving career in marketing and cybersecurity.
In the late 1990s, her family was forced to leave their home in Tehran, Iran, because of their Baha’i faith. Pegah and her brother would never have had an opportunity to pursue higher education if they had stayed.
They could breathe easier in Turkey, where Pegah mastered both English and Turkish. Then, after a lengthy refugee application process, they received a green light to move to Austin.
When they arrived in the U.S., Pegah was the only member of her family who spoke English. At 19 years old, she helped her father build an appliance repair business by establishing an online presence and creating Google ads to advertise his services. She quickly noticed that several areas of Austin were underserved. In some searches, her family business was one of only a handful of results that appeared.
Pegah fielded customer calls, grouped customers by area and sent her father a list of addresses to service. The experience gave her a crash course in marketing and advertising. She found that the process of identifying a target audience and laser focusing on customer satisfaction came naturally to her.
“I had been around long enough to recognize the centrality of good customer service,” she said. “I tried to deliver the same experience for others that I would want for myself.”
Their business grew quickly through referrals. In her early 20s, Pegah was negotiating contracts with industry leaders like LG and Home Depot to become an authorized repair center.
Building a Base
Inspired to hone her skills in marketing, Pegah attended the University of Texas at Austin to obtain a more formal education. She worked full-time for the family business as an undergraduate student, picking up the phone to return customer calls as soon as each class ended. The relentless pace pushed her to her limits. Some nights she would serve customers until eight or nine in the evening before studying until three or four in the morning and waking up for a class a few hours later.
In the summer of 2015, she interned with Dell Technologies and received an offer to serve as a project manager for global operations after graduation in 2017. She rose to the challenge of serving as a “last escalation point” for complex issues experienced by Dell’s B2B customers, but she was eager to return to marketing when she was offered a position as content development lead for global campaigns.
In this capacity, she worked with a team of analysts to devise surveys and produce thought leadership content about issues that interested Dell’s target audience, primarily other businesses. During the pandemic, for example, she served as a liaison between the company’s messaging team, outside analysts and creative team to produce reports, infographics and videos about Dell products that enabled professionals to work remotely.
In 2020, she enrolled in Baylor’s Online MBA (OMBA) program. “I had always wanted to pursue an MBA in order to increase my business acumen,” she said. “And, at the same time, I was looking for an opportunity to expand my knowledge of cybersecurity, a hot topic in my industry. Securing the data of our clients is a top priority and massive responsibility.” The flexibility of Baylor’s program, combined with the expertise she would gain from a concentration in cybersecurity, made it an ideal fit.
Investing in New Skills
From her first day in the OMBA program, Pegah gleaned insights that she could apply the next day at work. “Because of that immediate application, the things I have learned have really stuck with me,” she said.
She was already proficient at negotiating from her years running the family business, but she credits her negotiations class with making her even more effective. “My course in negotiations was powerful because it taught me that the pie is never finite,” Pegah said. “It is possible to maximize outcomes simply by understanding what is important to you and other people.”
In addition to improving her communication and negotiation skills, Pegah has gained confidence in navigating the growing field of cybersecurity. After studying cases and hearing stories from professors of cybersecurity management gone wrong, she has a firm grasp on what to do and what not to do as a vendor for companies that place their trust in Dell. “I am constantly aware of how my actions impact our customers,” she said. “To minimize the risk to them, I have to keep our own network secure.”
She is also making a name for herself in the sweet spot between cybersecurity and marketing. As she builds her knowledge of cybersecurity, she is better equipped to create marketing content that establish Dell as a thought leader in the field and a reliable partner in terms of security.
Pegah has experienced an immediate return on investment during her MBA program—not only through the newfound knowledge she is able to apply but in the professional growth she has experienced since joining the program. In only three years, she has received two promotions: the first to a higher-level content strategy and development role and the second to a coveted role as a federal field marketing manager.
For the past year, she has worked closely with Dell’s federal sales leaders to bring the company’s account executives into close proximity with current or potential B2B customers through attending high-impact events. Her new role represents a critical stepping stone on her way to becoming an executive-level leader who uses her marketing and cybersecurity expertise to inform strategic decisions.
“I have heard from a number of leaders in my company that the combination of marketing and cybersecurity is a powerful one,” she said. “Being part of Baylor’s OMBA program has demonstrated to them that I am serious about investing in knowledge that benefits the people around me. That has made all the difference.”
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