Atlanta MBDA Students – Where are they Now: Sam Naab

Atlanta MBDA Students – Where are they Now

Earlier this year, we produced a series of articles focusing on how your group can employ student workers by utilizing the resources provided by the Georgia Tech Career Center. If you were not able to read those articles, make sure to check them out on our blog. To show you that we practice what we preach, this week, we will be highlighting some of the students that have worked with our centers over the past few years and where they are today.

Sam Naab

Sam recently graduated from Georgia Tech in May of 2021 with a B.S. in Literature, Media, and Communication. Working as a student assistant for the Atlanta MBDA Centers, Sam’s role focused primarily on content production – interviewing clients and writing the client spotlight series, piloting and authoring the GT Resource Series on the GT Career Center and GT Manufacturing Institute, and writing articles recapping the 5th Annual Advanced Manufacturing Summit. Sam also performed other roles with the group conducting research projects to support the NextTech Pitch Competition and SEO optimization for our websites.

Like our other student workers, Sam was very involved on campus. Sam was a general member for a number of organizations including the Georgia Tech Tour Guides, Wreck Camp (the extended first-year orientation program), For the Kids (the largest philanthropic group on campus), and the GT Catholic Student Group. Sam also served as Vice President of the Honor Advisory Council and the both the Vice President of Public Relations and Vice President of Development for his fraternity, Kappa Sigma. Sam was very involved with the pre-teaching program at Georgia Tech, and in his senior year, Sam sat as a representative for pre-teaching students on the GT Office of Undergraduate Education’s Student Advisory Board. In his time at Tech, Sam worked as a student assistant for the Office of Undergraduate Admission and as an Curriculum Alignment Intern for the GT School of Biological Sciences before working for the Atlanta MBDA Centers.

Below is what Sam had to say about working with the Centers:

How would you describe the atmosphere within the Atlanta MBDA Centers?

I had a unique (and completely virtual) experience with the Atlanta MBDA Centers, but in just a short six months, I’ve felt myself grow so much as a professional. It’s so inspiring and empowering to be surrounded by an entrepreneurial spirit. Energy that high just begins to permeate into your thinking and actions. The Centers are a busy place with a fast pace, but it was easy and fun to sprint with them during my last two semesters of undergrad. I learned a lot, and I was given so much responsibility that I honestly did not feel like a student assistant but rather a full-time staff member. I am very appreciative for my time with the Centers.

Are there any projects from your time as a student assistant that you’re particularly proud of?

Within a manner of weeks, I was basically the primary content developer for the Atlanta MBDA Centers. If someone needed an article written, they would come to me, and I would produce it. I was extremely proud that this responsibility was just given to me. I also pitched an idea on writing content about building internship programs, and I was basically told to run with it. This project became an entire Georgia Tech Resource Series for our newsletter, and I include many of these articles in my personal portfolio. As a writer, it was amazing to be able to spearhead my own projects as well as seeing my content out there and helping our clients.

How did working for the Atlanta MBDA Centers contribute to your undergraduate career at Georgia Tech and your professional career after graduating?

On May 31, 2021, I will begin pursuing an M.Ed. in Middle School English Language Arts at the University of Notre Dame on the ACE Teaching Fellowship. By the time this article is released, I will have only been in graduate school for a few weeks, but there are definitely tangible ways that the Centers have influenced me. I spoke earlier about the entrepreneurial spirit within the Centers, and it was the drive of and ambition within the Centers that inspired me to open my own freelancing service. While in grad school, I will continue managing their web content and social media for some of the clients I’ve acquired on my own.

I couldn’t be more appreciative of my work with the Centers. As someone fresh out of undergraduate, I’ve developed a strong, virtual rolodex of business professionals and contacts which will be sure to carry with me going forward. I loved the opportunity to tap into the Atlanta business development scene, and I hope to capitalize on my experience with the Centers after graduating from my graduate program in 2023.

Atlanta MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now: Brandon Miller of Clarkston Consulting

Atlanta MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now

Earlier this year, we produced a series of articles focusing on how your group can employ student workers by utilizing the resources provided by the Georgia Tech Career Center. If you were not able to read those articles, make sure to check them out on our blog. To show you that we practice what we preach, this week, we will be highlighting some of the students that have worked with our centers over the past few years and where they are today.

Brandon Miller

            Brandon graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 and received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Technology and Management from the Denning Technology and Management Program. Brandon began working with the Centers in 2013 as a summer intern, but his role eventually extended into a year-round position. Brandon’s role focused primarily on project management for the Atlanta MBDA’s healthcare initiatives. Brandon also conducted a number of research projects as well as helping shape social media marketing for the Centers and help cement the role and scope Atlanta MBDA Center internships.

At Georgia Tech, Brandon was very involved on campus. Brandon served as President of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and also served on the Executive Cabinet for Georgia Tech’s orientation program, FASET. In his undergraduate career, Brandon held a number of on-campus jobs including work with the Office of Minority Development as well as his work with the Atlanta MBDA Centers. Brandon also participated in the Co-op program with an Atlanta orthopedics company while an undergrad at Georgia Tech.

Below is what Brandon had to say about working with the Centers:

How would you describe the atmosphere within the Atlanta MBDA Business Center?

At no point did I really feel like an intern. I felt like I was a staff member and an employee. Everyone was great, and I really felt like we were a family after all of the time we spent together on the impactful work that we were doing. I felt like I was entrusted with a lot and given a lot of autonomy to create, try new things, fail, and pivot with a support system in place where I didn’t feel like I was going to mess up at the end of the day. Working there also provided a lot of opportunities. For example, I still have some of the relationships that I made with some of the suppliers and manufacturers that were in the various programs. The Center also sent me to a national conference on supplier diversity which was a really cool experience. Overall, I would say that it was a very unique internship program where I didn’t feel like an intern at all.

Are there any projects from your time as a student assistant that you’re particularly proud of?

What comes to mind is being able to and being entrusted to help develop net, new programs at the Center, whether they exist today or not. It was super cool to be able to create the internship and the ambassador programs at the Center. I was also able to create the HTAC program for healthcare and the CAMP program for manufacturers. I remember making the logos and websites for these programs. It was a great opportunity to be a part of these from their origination and seeing them grow. We also put together a conference for diverse suppliers and manufacturers from all over the country. Knowing that I was able to represent the Center, coordinate the agenda, and get everything together as an undergraduate college student was a fantastic experience.

How did working for the Atlanta MBDA Business Center contribute to your undergraduate career at Georgia Tech and your professional career after graduating?

            I’m currently a consultant for Clarkston Consulting, and I focus on project and program management. I also lead our diversity, equity, and inclusion services (DEI), so how we partner and help our clients in the DEI space. A lot of what I learned with my experience in the Center helped me realize that I did not want to do engineering even though I have a Biomedical Engineering degree. I realized that I really liked working with different companies and different people on different types of projects. My work with the Center was really a launchpad into consulting rather than engineering. I would say that my work was a differentiator as I was coming out of Georgia Tech and starting to interview because a lot of the work that I did was the work that consultants do.

Now that I’m in the DEI consultancy space, I’m having a lot of conversations about supplier diversity and approaches which is what the Centers do. They focus on diverse suppliers and how to get them into the supply chain, so that’s a direct correlation. I also want to mention the project management skills, the sense of autonomy, and being able to coordinate and communicate across different parties, and all of that is a direct correlation to the work that I do now. In hindsight, I realized that this was one of the more impactful experiences when it comes to what my career has turned out to be, and I still go back to different anecdotes and lessons learned from the centers and my internship there even over my co-op which was almost a full-time job.

A Twenty Year Partnership

Ken Taunton, the founder of The Royster Group, originally began his career as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company covering his home state of Alabama and the Washington D.C. territories. After six years in the sales organization, he was promoted to be the Southeast Regional Recruiter headquartered in Atlanta, and Mr. Taunton described the excitement and passion that recruiting brought him. One day on an airplane, Mr. Taunton found himself in a conversation with a Managing Partner who worked for an international executive search firm. Following this conversation, Mr. Taunton was later interviewed at a competing firm and hired in their healthcare recruiting division.

Upon the burst of the tech bubble in the ’90s, the recruiting firm Mr. Taunton worked for downsized from 60 associates to 20 as a struggling economy results in few open job positions to fill. When one of the partners of his agency left the firm, Mr. Taunton quickly decided to make a shift to starting his company. Over his working experience, Mr. Taunton recognized the lack of diversity in executive candidate pools. He felt that his focus on presenting qualified and diverse candidates would serve as his niche for his firm. On September 1, 2001, Mr. Taunton founded The Royster Group.

Mr. Taunton described the difficulty of opening up his business just days before the tragic events of 9/11. With an economy on lockdown and an extreme sense of uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life, a new business venture proved to be very difficult. As Mr. Taunton navigated through the unfolding chaos, he put most of his focus on finding certifications and associates which would help ground his business and open the door for The Royster Group’s long-term success. Through this process, Mr. Taunton read about the services offered by the Atlanta MBDA Centers, which assisted clients in applying for business certifications and securing contracts. Mr. Taunton quickly reached out to the centers and has been a client ever since.

Working with the center for approximately 20 years, Mr. Taunton commented on how he has relied on the Atlanta MBDA Centers for various needs as his company has grown over time.

“When an entrepreneur starts a company, you don’t have the workforce or the capacity to help write proposals or help with the tools that are needed to evaluate pricing standpoints for different agencies. The centers were a huge piece of my process from the start. Also, from the operations side, I established systems that led to a more developed structure as we grew. As a result, I could focus on larger scale projects and contracts.” Ken Taunton

Mr. Taunton spoke about how recently the Centers, particularly, helped The Royster Group secure a spot as one of 36 companies to participate in a $7.5 billion government contract with the Defense Health Agency.  This fantastic opportunity for the company marks just one of the many successes The Royster Group has experienced as of late. This past year, The Royster Group achieved $22 million in revenue as they have been focusing primarily on recruiting healthcare providers for government agencies across the country. Holding firm to the ultimate vision of saving lives and eradicating unemployment, The Royster Group operates on its core values of customer service, integrity, teamwork, accountability, and respect.

To learn more about The Royster Group, please visit their website and LinkedIn page.