Tony Principi (Flex MBA 2010)

While serving in the United States Air Force, Rady alumnus Tony Principi (MBA ’10) travelled the world as an engineer and logistician, including tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he transitioned from the military into a civilian career, construction and engineering was a natural fit. However, he quickly learned that to stay competitive in the industry, he needed a better understanding of business. He began researching business schools and decided that the MBA program at the Rady School of Management was the best choice to accelerate his career. After receiving his MBA, Principi and his family moved to the Washington D.C. area where he leads a multi-million dollar construction project in his role as Construction Project Manager at the Parsons Corporation. Principi shared how a Rady MBA has helped him achieve professional success.

Why did you choose to attend the Rady School to get your MBA degree?

Compared to other business schools I looked at, Rady was far superior in terms of opportunities, the depth and breadth of curriculum and the interaction with the faculty. I liked that the program included working professionals who had already accomplished a lot, but still felt that they had something to learn. I had a young family, a career in the military and was embarking on a new one. It was a good fit for me.

What did you enjoy most about your experience at Rady?

My entire Rady experience was remarkable. I loved the flexibility of the schedule so that I could still work full-time and have time with my family. I also loved the interaction with the faculty. I got to know a number of faculty members who, to this day, I consider to be close friends, mentors, confidantes and sounding boards. I got to know people at Rady who were, and still are, invested in my success. There was a level of engagement that was: “We remain with you when you go out to do the things we have taught you to do, and we are hoping to watch you turn that around very quickly into a success.” That level of investment is very uncommon.

How has a Rady MBA benefited your career?

There are not a lot of MBAs in the engineering and construction field. Some of my subordinates have asked me why I didn’t get a master’s degree in construction management. I tell them: “I didn’t learn to be a construction project manager at Rady; I learned to be a good construction project manager at Rady.” It’s all about the application of the business acumen that you learn at Rady. As you get immersed in the curriculum and take classes like accounting and strategic planning, you learn to apply that education to what you already know. This is what makes people successful. For me, immediately after my graduation from Rady, I was reassigned to a project management position working on a construction project for the federal government in the Washington D.C. area. I was able to quickly bring to bear some of the skills that I had learned and honed at Rady and had immediate success and caught the attention of company leadership. Subsequently, as that project was ramping down, Parsons won a $400 million energy infrastructure project and was looking for someone who could speak the language of business as well as the language of construction. I was on the short list for that job and I ended being asked to fill the project manager’s role. It has been a remarkably successful first year. Based on a strong, trust-based relationship with our federal client, we’ve managed to grow revenues by nearly 10 percent. I was a fit for this position because I went off the traditional engineer’s educational development of getting a master’s degree in engineering or construction management. I got an MBA, and that has made all the difference.