First cohort of Affinity FCU employees earn Master of Business Administration degrees from Berkeley College
MBA program offered through corporate learning partnership helps employees deepen critical thinking, teamwork and leadership
BASKING RIDGE, NJ (August 27, 2021) — Two years after entering into a Corporate Learning Partnership (CLP) with Berkeley College, 20 Affinity Federal Credit Union (FCU) employees have earned their Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Management degrees from the College’s Larry L. Luing School of Business®. Affinity executives say they are already seeing increased cooperation, more advanced critical thinking and leadership in the cohort of employees who participated in the program.
“Education is learning how to learn,” said John Fenton, CEO, Affinity FCU. “We are in the business of learning more about our members so we can serve them better. The Corporate Learning Partnership with Berkeley College is a benefit for all of us to learn more and apply those learnings so that we are able to do our jobs better.”
Affinity is the largest credit union headquartered in New Jersey, ranking in the top 2% of all credit unions in terms of asset size. The institution has also been certified by A Great Place to Work, an organization that recognizes companies’ commitment to its employees and an outstanding work environment.
Berkeley’s CLP offers a 30% discounted tuition rate to Affinity employees who are enrolled in the MBA program as well as various undergraduate degree programs at the College. Tuition discounts are also extended to family members of Affinity employees. Investing in the continuing education of staff through the CLP is part of the credit union’s dedication to promoting success and advancement opportunities, according to Fenton.
“These MBA graduates have developed a critical skill set, the ability to think outside the box, do the research and everything else necessary to be successful in their careers,” said Kevin Brauer, CFO, Affinity FCU. “These folks will be identified as future successors of this organization as we move forward.
Graduates were celebrated at a ceremony held on August 10, 2021, at Affinity’s corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ, the same location where the cohort took classes together on Saturdays prior to shifting online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Employees were joined by loved ones, Affinity executives, and the Berkeley College faculty who taught the cohort’s MBA courses, which included project management, managerial finance, organizational behavior and leadership.
Key aspects of the program include the diversity of talent in the classroom and the long-term relationships that students develop with faculty – industry professionals who work with students through the duration of their studies. Berkeley’s CLP with Affinity is a model for education, collaboration and lifelong learning that is essential to advancing the next generation of corporate leadership.
“The Berkeley MBA in Management is adaptable to the specific needs of any cohort. It is one of the beautiful things about the program,” said Michael McAteer, DBA, Professor, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®, one of the cohort’s instructors who has decades of professional experience in the financial sector, including several roles in senior leadership. “In the case of Affinity, we used many case studies that were financial industry oriented. We also created a special course as an elective, Customer Service Management, at the request of our Corporate Learning Partner. We feel that this flexibility and partnership is a hallmark of the Berkeley MBA,” added McAteer.
As corporations begin to rebuild after the economic impacts of COVID-19, there is robust demand for MBA graduates globally who have strong strategic interpersonal skills, communication and decision-making abilities. MBA program applicants also see the value of the degree for career advancement. Fifty-five percent of prospective MBA students cite pay raises as their motivation for pursuing the degree, and a significant portion are also looking for management and senior leadership roles.
Tracy Van Brunt, Director, Digital Contact, Affinity FCU, who earned an MBA through the program, said that being part of Berkeley’s CLP helped her get a recent promotion from Member Engagement Officer to her current role. “The Berkeley College MBA program helped me to become a more analytical strategic leader, and enhanced my business acumen,” said Van Brunt, a resident of Green Township, NJ. “I am very fortunate to work for an organization like Affinity that offers an MBA program to elevate the skill set of their employees to build their talent density to better serve our members,” she added.
Berkeley College celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2021. The theme commemorating this milestone is “Empowering Lives for 90 Years!” Visit the 90th Anniversary webpage for more information.
Affinity Federal Credit Union employees who earned Master of Business Administration in Management degrees from Berkeley College in 2021 through a Corporate Learning Partnership celebrate their achievement at Affinity’s corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ, on August 10, 2021.
Affinity Federal Credit Union honored employees who earned Master of Business Administration in Management degrees from Berkeley College as part of a Corporate Learning Partnership with a celebration at the institution’s corporate headquarters in Basking Ridge, NJ, on August 10, 2021. (Left) Vinita Ittoop, PhD, Professor, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®; Kevin Brauer, CFO, Affinity FCU; and Michael Lincoln, Director, Graduate Admissions, Berkeley College. (Center) John Fenton, CEO, Affinity FCU, and Michael McAteer, DBA, Professor, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®. (Right) Ittoop; Tracy Van Brunt, Director, Digital Contact, Affinity FCU, a graduate of Berkeley’s MBA program; McAteer; and Maya Reddi, PhD, Professor, Berkeley College Larry L. Luing School of Business®.
About Affinity Federal Credit Union
The largest credit union headquartered in the state of New Jersey, Affinity proudly ranks in the top 2% of all credit unions in terms of asset size1. It is a member-owned, not-for-profit, full-service financial institution federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). For more information, visit affinityfcu.com.
About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers continuing education programs to enhance career credentials.
Berkeley College has campuses in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, and in Midtown Manhattan, NY, with more than 4,900 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for eight consecutive years. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.
The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.