This soon-to-be Goizueta graduate of the nationally ranked Executive MBA is redefining work-life balance studying online from out of state.

Tori DaCosta 24EMBA doesn’t believe in work-life balance: She believes in work-life collaboration.

The balance metaphor invokes images of a scale, where both sides are given the same amount of attention. That’s not possible at some stages of life, says DaCosta, especially when you throw graduate school into the mix.

“The collaboration part for me is a lot easier, because I give myself permission to do what needs to be done at that time,” says DaCosta, whether that’s going for a hike with her family, spending time with her children, completing homework for her Executive MBA, or doing her job.

DaCosta and members of her cohort on a trip to Washington D.C.

DaCosta is a State Farm agency field leader for North Carolina. She spends her days supporting 48 State Farm agents—and their teams. She has been with State Farm for 10 years, since she pivoted from being a personal trainer.

“So much of what I was doing in the fitness world translated to the insurance and financial services world,” says DaCosta, who was looking for a more challenging role when she joined State Farm. “I would sit down with people and talk about what their needs were. Then I’d figure out what some of their challenges were, and help them overcome them.”

First as a business owner growing her own insurance agency and now as a leader, DaCosta still helps troubleshoot and relishes in the variety of her busy days.

Executive Experience

DaCosta had always considered getting an advanced degree. Once her two children were in college, she started to do her research. After chatting with a colleague about her plans, she was encouraged to look at Executive MBA programs. Goizueta’s nationally ranked program quickly rose to the top of her spreadsheet.

Goizueta's Tori DaCosta poses with faculty and fellow online MBA students.
DaCosta with classmates and Professor Usha Rackliffe

“Every interaction I had with Goizueta has been wholly positive. That started from my initial inquiry to applying and all the way to today. The school has been so consistent with the professionalism and just truly caring and treating me as a student and person,” says DaCosta.

In the Executive MBA program, the course material is designed for students who already have business experience, often holding leadership positions, and offers a more flexible schedule. The online component of Goizueta’s program and the flexibility it provided was another sticking point for DaCosta, who frequently travels for work.

However, despite living in North Carolina and being an online student, DaCosta still came to campus multiple times—and she strongly encourages it.

Goizueta has a culture, and they’ve done a great job of building it. Once you step foot on that campus, it cements it. That level of pride for being part of their program is so clear.

Tori DaCosta 24EMBA

She was also curious how the relationship between classmates would be, as a digital student. She says the experience of meeting her cohort in person was like “hugging an old friend.” The in-person visits also allowed her to build deeper relationships with faculty members.

DaCosta took advantage of Goizueta’s Global Experiential Modules, and went to South Africa. The trip was a “perfect balance of playtime and learning,” with the experience featuring behind-the-scenes access to businesses and opportunities to strengthen her relationships with classmates.

Post-Graduation Plans

DaCosta has no plans to pivot careers or change jobs. However, she is a lifelong learner and is excited to continue to use all of the tools and knowledge gained from her time in the program.

“I absolutely love learning. That is part of the reason I changed industries in the first place.”

She encourages anyone considering the degree to go for it—and be present for the experience. Whether that was joining a class in the middle of an airport, sending calendar invites to her family for date days, or marking off any of the numerous to-dos on her list as a field leader, DaCosta is committed to the experience.

“Sometimes we get so focused on the next step. We can’t forget to pause and enjoy where we are in that moment. Just 100 percent enjoying the journey was big for me,” she says.

The biggest takeaway in her professional life has been the knowledge she gained. Once, she might have sat in a meeting and only had a general understanding of some of the more complex topics of discussion. Now, though she understands exactly what everyone is saying, she finds this newfound ability to contribute to the conversation especially empowering.

“The interesting thing about the business world is that you can navigate it fairly well without an MBA. But for me, the MBA has been a game-changer because now I speak the language,” says DaCosta. “With the Executive MBA, I have a much deeper understanding and greater insight. I’m now able to contribute at a higher level.”

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