Banking on Dual Graduate Degrees

By Amy Timmes

Bank professional Mark McCoy (MBA/’15, MA/’15), started his career path after high school when, at the age of 18, he attended a Mellon Bank open house in his home state of Pennsylvania.  Years later, he started his graduate degree path with a visit to an open house at Seton Hall University.  Considering his 15-plus years of banking experience, open houses have certainly opened doors for McCoy.

In his current position as SVP-Market and Business Banking Manager at Lakeland Bank in Oak Ridge, NJ, McCoy has had oversight in many functional areas of the bank, including management, finance, sales and marketing.   During his seven years at Lakeland, he leveraged his skills in establishing a successful small-business lending group, managing an acquisition of a $300 million bank in Ocean County, NJ, and building a business-banking program that produces over $25 million annually in small business loans.

First Open House –

It all started with a job search after high school.  “I grew up in south central Pennsylvania in an agricultural and manufacturing town called Tyrone,” recalls McCoy, “where the largest club in my high school was FFA [Future Farmers of America].  After graduation, my brother went in to the Navy, and I went to work.  By sheer luck,” he elaborates, “I was working in a grocery store reading the want-ads, and I noticed that Mellon Bank had an open house.”  Serendipitously, Mellon had a few job openings for customer service representatives to open accounts and work the teller line.  Thus began McCoy’s ever-evolving banking career.

After working with a number of banks during the next few years, including Sovereign Bank in Princeton, NJ, Fifth Third Bank in Chicago, IL, and National City Bank in both Pennsylvania and Illinois, McCoy joined Lakeland Bank in 2010 as a Vice President-Business Development Officer.

“I saw Lakeland as an opportunity for growth…and Sovereign had just been acquired by Santander,” he explains.  “One of my bosses from Sovereign had also recently joined Lakeland as the Chief Retail Officer and is now our Chief Operating Officer.”

While at Lakeland, he obtained his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, in 2012, from Rider University, in Lawrenceville, NJ.  He is proud to say that he is the first person in his family to attend an institution of higher education and receive a degree.

Second Open House –

Realizing that “credentials are key,” McCoy decided to shop for the ideal location—and environment—to pursue his graduate degree.  McCoy states that his criteria included three points: (1) finding a school that encouraged and supported his career; (2) a Northern New Jersey location; and (3) a program with name recognition, preferably nationally known.

Enter Seton Hall University’s open house, which McCoy attended, and Seton Hall won his heart.  “I liked the culture and environment,” he reflects.  McCoy chose to pursue a dual degree: an M.B.A. from the Stillman School of Business and an M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations from the School of Diplomacy.

During the decision process, McCoy chose a Diplomacy regional specialization program in Latin America and The Caribbean, focusing on society, politics and business in these rapidly growing regions.   Before committing to his M.B.A. concentration, he visited with a number of professors in different Stillman departments, including finance, supply chain, management, and accounting.  After McCoy met with Dr. Tony Loviscek, Professor and Chair of the Department of Finance, he ultimately decided on finance as his concentration.

Loviscek remembers McCoy from his Financial and Economic Analysis (BMBA 9113) class, a course that offers integrated decision-making, emphasizing quantitative methods in economics and finance.  “He [McCoy] was a member of our 2014-15 Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Research Challenge Competition team, which competed in New York City.”  Most notably, Loviscek recalls, “Mark was an indefatigable supporter of the School of Business initiatives.”

McCoy also drew on his energy and talent to help other students with their capstone projects.  He was inducted into the 2016 Financial Honor Society and now, as an active Stillman alumnus, currently serves as an advisor of Stillman’s Department of Finance Advisory Board.

The Best Decision –

Choosing to pursue his graduate degrees at Seton Hall, claims McCoy, was the right choice.  “Developing my academic experience put tools in my tool kit that I didn’t have.”  He states that Stillman’s mission to “transform concepts into business practice” is germane to the specialized management and finance knowledge he gleaned throughout his graduate study.

McCoy emphasized that his supervisors and colleagues were supportive during his MBA pursuit at Stillman.  His supervisor, Karen Garrera, First Senior Vice President and Senior Regional Administrator at Lakeland Bank, remarked, “Mark carefully planned time off from work in support of his academic schedule by considering project due dates and exam schedules.”  Furthermore, she added, “We were able to accommodate Mark’s requests since he had developed his team members to the extent that they could temporarily support the business line.”

Ongoing Relationship with Stillman –

One of McCoy’s colleagues at Lakeland Bank, Victoria Duffin, who is currently enrolled in the M.B.A. program at Stillman, says, “I met Mark a few years ago in my first class as a graduate student at Seton Hall University…and quickly took notice of Mark’s energy and enthusiasm for the program.”  According to Duffin, they developed a friendship and mentor-mentee relationship.  “Mark also played a significant role in my decision to continue my coursework at Seton Hall.  I am on track to complete my M.B.A. with a concentration in marketing in 2020, and, like Mark, am grateful for the critical learning and strong community the [Stillman] program provides,” notes Duffin.

In addition to mentoring, McCoy continues to take part in campus events, such as graduate information sessions on campus, answering questions from potential graduate students, as well as other Seton Hall activities.  A highly active alumnus and champion of Stillman, he believes his connection with the school will continue to develop in positive ways.  “The runway is out in front of me,” says McCoy, “to partner with the University building programs that will benefit my company, my clients, and myself.”

If McCoy’s past involvement is any indication of his future role, Stillman can take that commitment to the bank.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.


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