After an extensive national search, Cat Alves (MBA, ’14) was recently named Director of Athletics and Recreation for John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She sat down for an interview with Zicklin News.
Zicklin News: You’re an athletics director with an MBA — not exactly the typical MBA grad. What made you decide to get a business degree?
Cat Alves: I already knew I wanted to work in higher education as an athletics director, and I wanted to get as much education as possible. A lot of other people in my position get degrees in sports management, but I wanted that broader exposure to business so I could rise to the level of leadership.
ZN: Why did you choose the Zicklin School for your MBA?
CA: I’m a CUNY grad — I was in the Macaulay Honors program at Hunter College — so I was familiar with Baruch and the Zicklin School as a leading institution. The faculty bring so much experience from their careers. That’s invaluable. Those factors plus the diversity, of both the faculty and the student body, all combined into a great fit for me.
ZN: What was your concentration?
CA: My concentration in my MBA program was Industrial and Organizational Psychology. I didn’t come from a business background, so it gave me the base of finance, economics, and accounting, plus the most important piece, which is how to work with people.
ZN: What skills did you gain that you use in your job?
CA: One of the main responsibilities of being an athletics director is managing a budget. I also gained skills in revenue generation, but the best thing the program did for me was to teach me a way of thinking. The case studies we examined showed me that for managers, answers aren’t always straightforward. You learn how to step back from things and make good decisions based on imperfect information.
ZN: What were some of your favorite classes?
CA: This was totally unexpected, but I loved my Computer & Information Systems class! We talked about how to build information systems by including people as you develop the systems so that they serve those that they’re meant for, and also get people on board with using them. I found it so interesting that I almost chose Info Systems as my concentration.
ZN: Did anything surprise you about the program?
CA: The sense of community we achieved. We weren’t in the Full-Time MBA Program but we still managed to build connections, thanks mostly to all the group projects we did together. My classmates and I have developed a nice network of peers who have stayed in touch since graduation.
ZN: I assume that since you’re an athletics director, you must also be athletic, no? What’s your sport?
CA: I was on the Hunter College softball team as an undergraduate. I played shortstop and second base. I also play volleyball recreationally.
ZN: What’s next for you?
CA: Right now I’m very dedicated to athletics, but down the line I could see myself taking on a leadership role in higher education. That’s something I think about: what I can do to be a great leader, not just in athletics, but in everything a college does.