An involuntary company separation could be seen as a roadblock or as an opportunity, a time to re-group and imagine a next career stage. Monty Smith, ’21SPS, Human Capital Management, saw it as the latter. He took this unforeseen time as a chance to seek out the advanced degree he always desired. That is where Columbia University's Master of Science in Human Capital Management (HCM) came in.
As an executive with over 25 years of work experience, Monty wanted a program that would allow him to get the edge he needed in his new job search while giving him new perspectives--both in his experience and the opportunities that might lie ahead. While exploring several choices, Monty found himself continually drawn to Columbia’s HCM program. He explains, “I kept returning to Columbia’s HCM program because the curriculum included so many critical areas of the employee and team experience. I knew that successfully completing this course of study would better prepare me for my next professional journey and would send a message about my professional priorities in a different way than an MBA.”
Monty joined Columbia’s HCM program in September 2019 as a part-time, online student knowing he chose the perfect fit—a world-class institution with an industry-driven focus that would work around his needs. “Anticipating that I would return to the workforce during the program, being able to thrive both academically and professionally was essential,” he says, and with Columbia’s “incredible reputation and culture of embracing new disciplines and ways of thinking,” Monty knew his choice of the HCM program would demonstrate his belief that people drive the success of every organization.
Bolstered by what he calls Columbia’s “consistent culture of support and service” and an “atmosphere of commitment to the student’s success,” Monty juggled job-hunting and family commitments while pursuing Columbia HCM’s innovative course of study with “exposure to and the opportunity to access true thought leaders in strategic human capital management.”
Monty’s forethought and persistence has already paid off. “In my fourth semester I began a new professional journey that did indeed require my husband and me to move across the country. The insights and knowledge I gained from my program professors and cohort mates were very present with me throughout the interview and position evaluation process.”
As he works towards completing his degree this year, Monty has started as Company Growth Officer (CGO) at John L. Scott Real Estate —one of the top 20 residential real estate brands in the nation. He leads the organization’s sales divisions, including regional sales offices, franchise network, relocation, and e-business. Monty’s Columbia HCM training brought him additional insights as a leader in this new role, arming him with “a much deeper understanding of how to recruit, retain, motivate, inspire, coach and mentor team members.” Moreover, classes like Foundations of Labor and Employment Law profoundly impacted his thinking, “essentially all critical human capital management strategies must be grounded in and be cognizant of the legal framework from which we must and should operate as an organization.”
For any current or prospective HCM students, Monty recommends taking advantage of every opportunity to capitalize on the experience and expertise of those around you, “given the prestigious history of Columbia and the professional and academic networks of the professors, the guest speakers for our classes are world-class.” And, no matter where you are—on campus or online — “actively engage with your professors, guest speakers, and cohort mates. Be willing to be the ‘devil’s advocate’ when appropriate. Your insights will be respected and will lead to a stronger learning experience for all.”