Tennessean Andrew Ball Gives Career Additional Boost With MBA in Finance

UL Lafayette online MBA in Finance graduate Andrew Ball

Andrew Ball is fortunate to have two outstanding mentors as guiding lights in his finance career. Those experienced leaders, Chris Hopkins and Jeff Ball, are also his uncles.

Hopkins is vice president of investments at Barnett and Company, in Chattanooga, where Andrew lives. Jeff is the president and CEO of Friendly Hills Bank in Whittier, California, where Andrew was born.

”I got a pretty good glimpse into the finance world through them,” Andrew said. ”I rely on both of them heavily for professional advice. Getting insight from them helped steer me into the world of finance, and I have loved it.”

Andrew, a consultant at ACA Compliance Group, continues proving his uncles are investing their time wisely by advising him. In March 2019 he completed the Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance online program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

”The MBA was a professional development opportunity,” Andrew said. ”It is a goal that I always had for myself. Now seemed to be the appropriate time to go back and pursue it.

”It’s not necessarily something that’s required for the line of work that I’m in, but I wanted to use it as an opportunity to gain more knowledge in finance and develop some leadership skills that can help me progress with my current company.”

The online format was the only way Andrew could return to higher education because he travels for work. He completed the MBA program in 15 months with a 4.0 GPA.

”It was manageable,” he said. ”The online program was what I needed. Being required to check into classes on specific days wasn’t going to work for me. The online format was very appealing. I took the final exam for the Corporate Finance course in my hotel room. That was a fun memory of the program.”

High Yield

UL Lafayette online MBA graduate Andrew Ball with his wife
Andrew with his wife, Maria, in Venice

Once Andrew decided to follow in the footsteps of his uncles, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a 4.0 GPA, from Lee University in 2014. Attending college, in general, was a foregone conclusion in his family.

”I have a twin brother who earned his MBA,” he said. ”I have an older brother who is in education and currently working on his master’s degree. Both of my parents have master’s degrees and are both in education. They instilled the importance of education early.”

Andrew worked as a financial adviser at Northwestern Mutual for nearly three years before becoming a performance analyst at ACA Compliance Group in October 2017. He enrolled in the online MBA program a few months later and was promoted to his current role in July 2018.

”A big state school like UL Lafayette carries a lot better reputation than some smaller programs,” Andrew said. ”Cost was also a big factor. It was one of the more affordable programs out there. It also had the accreditation I was looking for in an MBA.”

Although Andrew found all of the information in the curriculum applicable to his job, he especially enjoyed FNAN 505: Security Analysis and Portfolio Management and BSAT 510: Data Analysis.

”In my line of work, we deal entirely with investment management firms,” he said. ”I found getting that more in-depth knowledge of securities and how they work, and getting into the mind of a portfolio manager very interesting.

”The Data Analysis course was heavily Excel-driven, and we also did some work in Tableau and databases. In my profession, we work in Excel on a day-to-day basis. Getting more insight about analysis was beneficial.”

Now that Andrew is an MBA graduate, he is pursuing a Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement®, which involves passing two exams.

”That’s another reason I did the program — to get more finance background before pursuing the CIPM designation,” he said. ”This is one of the most important designations you can receive for my line of work. I’ll be sitting for the first test in September 2019.”

Happy Returns

Although Andrew was not be able to participate in the commencement ceremony at UL Lafayette, he celebrated his accomplishment with his family and friends.

”They are very excited,” he said. ”They all knew that the MBA was something that I really wanted to earn. They were all extremely supportive — especially my wife, Maria. There was a lot of time management involved. There were times when I was swamped with schoolwork and my professional job. She was very patient throughout the entire process.”

Now that Andrew has a graduate degree to go along with his experience and the mentoring he is receiving, he hopes to transition into a managerial role.

”ACA is a great firm that is growing really fast,” he said. ”There is a lot of growth opportunity involved. The way that education is going, having a master’s degree is going to become more important to help you stand out as more people earn undergraduate degrees.

Andrew, a sports enthusiast and volunteer basketball coach at his high school alma mater, said preparation is the key to success in the online MBA program.

”Come into it prepared to work, and make sure to do your due diligence to plan out a schedule that works with you and your family,” he said. ”It’s certainly not an easy program, but it’s not unmanageable. Put the work into it and investment into it, and you will get a great return out of it.”

Learn more about the UL Lafayette MBA Online Program with a concentration in Finance.

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