Lessons Learned in College Pay Off for Business Alumnus
By Eric Breier
It isn’t the knowledge gleaned from textbooks while attending Cal State San Marcos nearly two decades ago that Tony Pecora carries with him. Rather, it’s the exposure he had to implementing the principles he studied.
“Learning how to think for yourself and apply these tools and apply these things that we learned, that's the true benefit to college,” said Pecora, who graduated with a bachelor’s in business administration. “And that's what I tell everyone who's uncertain of what they want to do.”
Today, Pecora is the virtual chief information officer, or vCIO, for Managed Solution, a San Diego-based full-service technology provider that offers supportive and strategic information technology services for businesses.
But Pecora didn’t always know this was the career path he wanted to follow.
Pecora said he wasn’t a fan of school when he graduated from high school and had no inkling of what he wanted to do for a living.
“I very much enjoyed – and still do enjoy – working,” he said. “But I realized if I didn't have a step up and I didn't have the exposure experience and didn't know how to bring tools that I didn't know existed from a college course or a college degree that I was eliminating what I could do in the future. I was basically setting an artificial glass ceiling because I just didn't know, and that exposure is so important.”
Pecora began by enrolling at MiraCosta College. He said it was the best decision he could have made, both financially and because he wasn’t prepared for a four-year university after graduating from high school.
After transferring to CSUSM, Pecora began to see how the principles he was learning could impact real businesses. That was particularly true for his Senior Experience project when Pecora’s team helped a company develop a business plan.
“One of the pleasant surprises you get out of it is that you get to see a change; you get to see a difference,” Pecora said. “You're not writing a business plan because it's homework, you're writing a business plan because at some point in your life you are going to need to write a business plan. And if you understand the foundations of how to write it, you're going to be respected and automatically placed higher than your competitors because you have this foundation.”
Pecora always had an interest in IT, but he wasn’t passionate about it like many programmers. He always liked the idea behind it, but was more interested in the business aspect and getting it to work for other businesses.
That interest has made Managed Solution a perfect fit for Pecora. He joined the company as technical account manager in November 2015. At the time, he was the sole person in the department, working with 120 clients. He has helped the department grow to a seven-person team and was promoted to vCIO in February 2020.
In his role as vCIO, Pecora’s responsibilities have shifted from being about 80% technical to about 50% technical and 50% sales and management.
“The primary point to my job is to help businesses take their technology and help it transform their business, whether that's saving money, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, reducing their risk footprint by moving it to the cloud, whatever is best for their business,” he said.
As Pecora thinks back on his own college days, he encourages today’s students to put in the effort that will help them down the road.
“It's a cliché, but you are going to get out of it exactly what you put into it,” he said. “So if you have a drive, direction and understand at least the broad topic of what you want to do – and you put the effort forward – that is going to have lifelong changes. It’s very impactful.
“If you have a work ethic at a young age, it will stick with you for the rest of your life. The efforts that you put in during college are going to magnify and increase opportunities down the road.”
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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