September 2018

As Microsoft Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP] business management tools grow in complexity and demand, so follows the increased need to attract top talent that will not only fit, but thrive in the distinctive ERP environment.


“There’s a big demand for these types of jobs in every city in the world, because everybody uses these systems,” said Dr. Mary Kay Copeland, professor of accounting and director of Enterprise Systems Education. Since she joined the university a year ago, she’s been playing matchmaker between Microsoft partners, consulting firms and PBA students. “There are about 5,000 new ERP related jobs and they go unfilled every year just because people don’t have the right skills.”

Prior to joining the university and getting her doctorate, Copeland had a consulting firm for years, where she implemented the ERP tools in companies’ operational systems. By the time she became an accounting professor, she had many contacts in the industry who were telling her that they did not have enough employees with deep knowledge in this particular area. With that idea in mind, Copeland started to develop course work that would fit into accounting and even business programs to teach students the skills necessary to do ERP or Customer Relation Management [CRM] consulting.

Her program, which started as a week-long bootcamp at her previous school in Rochester, New York, provided foundational concepts, as well as hands-on training with Microsoft Dynamics 365, which is a relatively new product that not many people know how to use. The system allows users to manage data faster, easier and with a greater simplicity. One of the main reasons people use Microsoft Dynamics CRM is to track email, appointments, contacts and tasks in one place so individuals and teams have a complete record of communications with customers.

At the end of the first bootcamp, Copeland had an “aha” moment, as she saw employers invited to attend to talk to students, who had only spent four days learning, hire them on the spot.

Copeland immediately recognized a huge opportunity. At the same time, she saw MBA students graduating and not getting good jobs. And so she thought, “I’m taking these great, smart students who are graduating and I’m giving them these skills so when they graduate they can get these great jobs.”

According to her, there are different ways that students can get experience: 1. They can attend these week-long bootcamps, which is a very quick, get started type of program, or 2. They can take the four classes offered at PBA, either as part of their MBA program or as a standalone.

For MBA Jake Fifer, participating in the program led him to his dream job. “I gained a position with a Microsoft Gold Partner,” said Fifer. “And I found that I had the edge over other graduates searching in this field. When securing interviews, I talked about my experience with the ERP classes and this definitely impressed several companies.” Through these classes, Fifer gained hands-on experience with the D365 environment and Digital Learning Portal [DLP], which is what he’s using at his present employer. “Without Dr. Copeland’s connections and guidance, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity of working with such a great company,” he said.


Copeland knows what type of student will succeed in the ERP environment. During the recruitment process, she looks at their skills, figures where they would be a good fit, and helps them with their resumes. She then starts talking to the firms. “The employers are thrilled with our students. They don’t have to go through recruiting firms that don’t know these students from Adam, and most charge a huge fee.”

DXC Technology, one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics Partners and Gold certified, is definitely thrilled to work with Copeland, who recommended Dan Dang, a PBA bootcamp graduate and Christian Segurado, MBA 2017.

Born in Germany, Segurado came to PBA to combine his engineering studies with soccer, and according to Laura Jacobowitz, his initial supervisor and trainer at DXC Technology, he’s a superstar. “Christian had standout qualities,” she said. “He was eager to learn, work hard and excel; he knew Microsoft Dynamics DLP before he started, and understood what it means to be on a team.”

Out of 11 new associates hired, Segurado was the strongest, and was promoted to full consultant after only six months. He and Dang were Microsoft 365 certified within a month and a half, faster than any other new hire. “Christian had 1000 chargeable hours logged after only five months after being certified,” said Jacobowitz. “This is an incredibly high amount of chargeable hours [client work]. Testament to his strength as a consultant and as a professional.”

“This is a great thing for PBA,” said Copeland, who sees the recognition our students are getting from Microsoft and its partnering companies, such as eLogics, Power Objects, TryBridge, Elipse, AKA Consulting and accounting companies like EMY and Templeton & Company. “The secret to our success is that most schools don’t have as much curriculum in ERP as much as we do,” she said. “Employers seek to hire smart students with soft skills, and giving our students a good foundation is paying off.”

For more information on graduate coursework in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Enterprise Systems, visit Rinker School of Business.  

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