Evance Chiinze B’20 diversifies his sill set to stay current in his field

Evance Chiinze B’20 knows that with a more diverse skill set, you become more valuable to employers and can both advance and be more successful in your career.

Which is why, as a finance analyst at Medtronic, Inc., it’s his goal to stay on top of the latest trends, and Saint Mary’s has helped him each step of the way — from bachelor’s to master’s and beyond.

“The world we live in is always evolving and changing,” he said. “The only way we can keep up as professionals is to have academic support. The only way you can do this is to keep learning. Learning is a continuous process.”

Chiinze earned double degrees in accounting and business administration through Saint Mary’s bachelor’s completion programs, graduating in 2020. He finished his accelerated Master’s of Business Administration program this spring, and he’s considering enrolling in certificate programs for both finance and business intelligence and data analytics. Each component is helping him advance and stay current in his career.

Originally from Zimbabwe, Chiinze came to the U.S. in 2005 and began working for Medtronic, a global producer of medical devices and therapies, such as insulin pumps, pacemakers, and diabetes therapies, and is best known for its revolutionary cardiac devices, such as battery-powered and miniature pacemakers.

“I didn’t start right away in finance, I was in production for four years before I moved to corporate,” he said. “Finance is the only thing that I knew before I came to the U.S. and in order for me to get into Medtronic, I had to find an open position that I could get myself into, which has paid off. I love working for Medtronic.” 

Along the way, he was encouraged to turn his associate degree into a bachelor’s degree. “For me to advance myself, careerwise, and academically as well, I was pushed to go ahead and get a bachelor’s degree,” he said. “I had attended a few graduations for friends and family at Saint Mary’s and heard all the stories about the flexibility of the courses and how great the school is and all the wonderful faculty and staff. When I decided to pursue getting my degree, Saint Mary’s was the first place I applied.” 

He appreciated the flexibility of his evening courses, which allowed him to work full-time and keep up with his young children, a 5-year-old son, and a daughter just under 2. A night owl by nature, he said it works well to complete his homework after they have gone to bed and still be as present as possible for his children.

It was important to Chiinze that he be able to complete degrees in a quick time frame.

“The main part, when contemplating getting back into school and getting a graduate degree, was the timeframe it would take to accomplish it,” he said. “Professionally, things change rapidly. If my classes were going to take longer, it was going to affect where I wanted to be professionally. I have appreciated the accelerated MBA program, which is condensed but achievable because there is so much flexibility. The acceleration, the flexibility of it being full-time online and the professors are great. The professors have been really open and have extensive availability. If I send them an email with a question to be clarified, within a short time, I get responses.”

Chiinze has been able to apply what he’s learning directly to his work, even creating a capstone project on an operating unit at Medtronic.

“Most of what I’ve been learning resonates with what I encounter on a daily basis — operating plans, budgeting, analyzing data, so it’s been a great experience using the information that I am learning to better understand and tell the picture of the financial aspects I’ll be covering,” he said, adding that he’s also applied aspects of what he’s learned about budgeting to his personal life as well.

As he’s close to completing his degree, Chiinze is already looking at the next learning opportunities through shorter, more specialized certificate programs. “I’m looking forward to the BIDA (Business Intelligence and Data Analytics) one because data is now more of the core aspect of any organization,” he said. “Everything now depends on what data is there and what is being collected, compiled, and analyzed. I figure it will be an added advantage. It will give me another area of focus. Everything revolves around data. Data is what enables us to make decisions. Data is the future.”

Chiinze will continue adding credentials through Saint Mary’s. “It’s been a great experience,” he said. “It’s a great place. It makes it possible for people like us with different challenges, like children and work, to be able to accomplish degrees.”

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