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UAlbany Weekend MBA Stories - Frank Deno


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Many people have asked about the composition of the University at Albany Weekend MBA Program students, alumni, and faculty. These people are curious about what they do, their background, and their areas of research. To begin to answer those questions, we have been spotlighting a Weekender to allow them to share their story. Enjoy the profiles and please contact Program Director Don Purdy at, at 518.956.8381, or at @UAlbanyMBA if you have any questions, need additional information, or would like to sit in on a class!

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UAlbany Weekend MBA Stories - Frank Deno

  1. 1. E › P › 518.956.8330 F › 518.442.4042 › @UAlbanyMBA › Univ ersity at Albany School of Business | 1400 Washington Av enue | Massry Center f or Business 203 | Albany , New York 12222 | › COHORT STRUCTURE › 48 CREDITS IN 22 MONTHS › INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESIDENCY › VALUE LEADER › ALL-INCLUSIVE › INCREDIBLE STUDENT DIVERSITY UAlbany Weekend MBA Stories – Frank Deno, MBA Executive Pastor of Operations, Grace Fellowship A self-proclaimedendorphinjunky,FrankDenogrew upinCliftonPark, the oldestof four.At the age of 14, he beganworkinginconstruction and soonventuredintoentrepreneurialism, managingnearly20jobs on hisown.“WhenI graduatedfromhighschool,I wasn’tinlove with my businessbutthought,whatelse isoutthere?,”sharesFrank.“Ihad no ideawhatI wantedtodo withmy life soIjoinedthe Army.” Afteradvancedtrainingasa tankerin the ArmyNational Guard,Frank returnedtothe worldhe knew,construction.“Myfavorite partwas the freedomtotravel,”he explains.“Anexample is,Itooka framingjobin ColoradosoI could Aftertwoor three yearslivingadventurouslyonthe road,Frank found himself consideringcollege.“Everyoneelseseemedtobe doingit,”he says.“I thoughtthere mightbe somethingtoit.Plus,IfiguredIneeded to do more than justwanderthe restof mylife.” The firstin hisfamilylineagetoattendcollege andthe onlyone of hissiblingstocomplete college,Frankwentto HudsonValleyCommunityCollegeanddecidedhe reallylikedit.“Ilikedeverythingaboutit,”he asserts.“The college environment,hangingoutwithmyfriendsplus,IfoundI reallyenjoyedlearning.” WhenFrank Denowasin highschool,he didn’tplace muchemphasisonstudying,evenfailingmath.“Incollege,my math professorexplainedall mathproblemsare like puzzlesandif youplaythemlike agame,itbecomesfun.He was right!”Frank wentonto receive hisBachelorof Science inComputerScience andMathematicsfromthe Universityat Albany in1994. Longingto workin computerautomation,Frankbeganworkingasaconsultantwith General Electric(GE) Power Systems immediatelyaftergraduationandthen GEFanuc.“My jobwas to getcomputersto talkwithmachinery,”he describes.“Ihada ball.It waslike a playgroundforme.” In the summerof 1996, he shiftedgearsandstartedconsultingwithFleetBankasan Enterprise Architect.Later,Fleet Bank became Bankof BostonandthenBank of America.Frankconsultedwiththe bankforaboutfouryears before acceptingan attractive offertojointhe teamfull time.Thisiswhere he gainedhisfirstmanagementexperience with a large company.
  2. 2. › COHORT STRUCTURE › 48 CREDITS IN 22 MONTHS › INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESIDENCY › VALUE LEADER › ALL-INCLUSIVE › INCREDIBLE STUDENT DIVERSITY “So manygreat thingshappenedinmycareerduringmytime there,”tellsFrank.“Ihadan unbelievablygreat manager,one of the fewmentorsI’ve hadinbusiness,ScottMcDermott.He chose to investinme andsentme to MIT’s SloanSchool of Managementto beginmygraduate studies.IdidnotfinishmyMBA there butearneda Product Managementcertificate.” In fall 2003, Frank begana newconsultingpositionwithNewYorkIndependentSystemOperator(NYISO).“Theyrun the powergridand energymarketsfor NewYorkState andmy jobwas to come up withbusinesssolutionsforthe overall organization,”he pointsout.“Iputtogethera planand theyendeduphiringme asQualityLeader.”In2005, Frank launchedNYISO’s LeanSix SigmaDeploymentLeadershipProgramtoreduce complexityandcycle time (Lean) and reduce processdefectsandvariation(SixSigma) bydevelopingqualityleadersinthe organization. “I foundmyself doingsomethingI’dneverdone before,”Frankreveals.“Iwaschangingthe qualityof an entire organization.Itmade sense tome thingsshouldworka certainwaybut itoccurred to me I had noformal education to back my thoughtprocess.”Itwas thenFrankdecidedtopursue hisMBA at UAlbany’s WeekendMBA Program. “The cohortstructure was justfabulous,”he recalls.“Ican’tevenfathomgoingthroughthe MBA program withoutit. We still stayintouchevenafter10 yearsbecause we builtlastingfriendships.Infact,I justwentcyclingwithDan Shyne a couple weeksago.” Frank’slove of cyclinggoeshandinhand withhisendorphinjunkypersona.“I’mafan of anythingwildandcrazy and cyclingisone of the thingsI love,”he admits.“Cyclingprovidesthe mostamazingsense of freedom.It’sarush unlike anythingelse,otherthanskydiving.”Frankhasput more than 10,000 milesonhisbikesandhasno intentionof stoppinganytime soon.“Mywife tellsme manypeople are blessedwithambition,adding,‘you’re plaguedwithit’.” Twentyyearsago,Frank Denotoldhisfriendshe washappybeingsingle andif Godwantedhimtomarry someone, he’dhave to dropher onhis doorstep.Thisistheirstory. “I metmy wife atthe little churchIgrewup in, CliftonParkCenterBaptistChurch,”he rememberswithasmile. “Christagrewup nearBuffaloandhad come to the Capital Districttodo herdoctoral work. Ithad beena numberof yearssince I’dvisitedmychurchand the morning I wentback,I saw the mostbeautiful girl onstage leadingworship and thought,it’sridiculoustoeventhinkaboutaskingherout.She iswayoutof myleague!” A fewweekspassedandasserendipitywouldhave it,agroupfrom the church endedupat Frank’shouse fora snowball fightone evening.“Bythe time 10 o’clockcame,it was justme and Christa,”reportsFrank.“Coldfromthe wetsnow,she sat on mydoorstepshivering.Itwasthenthe lightbulbwentoff.Here wasthe beautiful girl,dropped on mydoorstep!” A couple dayslater,the twometfor coffee andsharedeverythingaboutlife tothatpoint.“She wasall in,”Frank beams.“We were engagedsix monthslaterandmarrieda yearafterthat.” On June 1, 2016, Frank and ChristaDeno will celebrate20 yearsof marriage. WhenFrank beganthe UAlbanyWeekendMBA Program, the couple hadbeenmarriedeightyears.Theyhadtheir daughter,Jasmine (almost3) andtheirson Jaredhad justbeenborn.“I wasworking60-70 hoursa weekatNYISO, servingasa white waterraftingguide onweekendsandwasalsoa youthleaderat ourchurch.”
  3. 3. › COHORT STRUCTURE › 48 CREDITS IN 22 MONTHS › INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESIDENCY › VALUE LEADER › ALL-INCLUSIVE › INCREDIBLE STUDENT DIVERSITY EarninghisMBA tooka greatdeal of planningandpatience.“Iloveddoingthe presentationsbecause I’mgoodat pretendingIknowwhatI’mtalkingabout,”he jokes.“My MBA gave me the academicbackingand credibilitythat much of my thoughtprocesswasactuallyaccurate.” The two biggestthingsFrankgainedfromthe WeekendMBA Programwere the relationshipshe builtandhavinghis love of learningaffirmed.“Tothisday,some of my longeststandingfriendshipsinmylife are membersfrommy cohort.I am grateful.” Thisis where the storychanges.FrankgraduatedwithhisMBA classin 2006 andfoundhimself workingconstantly.“I was hardlyeverhome,”he confesses.“One morning,Iwassleepingonthe couchafterworkinglate intothe night. My daughterJasmine lookedatChristaandasked,‘Mom, who’sthe guy onthe couch?’All Icouldthinkwas,what am I doing?Somewherealongthe wayIgot lost.” Soonthereafter,serendipityintervenedagain.Frankattendedaleadershipmeetingathischurch, Grace Fellowship. “There was an openpositionatourchurch for Directorof Guest ServicesandIthoughtperhapsitwas a gentle nudge fromGod to get me goinginthe rightdirection,”sharesFrank.“Ithought,whynotthrow myname into the hat for consideration.” Aftermeetingwiththe leadpastorandexecutive pastor,Frankhadzeroexpectationof hearinganythingfurther. Whenhe met againwithExecutive PastorBill Minchinandheard,“You’re the guywe want,”he couldn’thelpbut respond,“Are yousure?” Frank andChristawere excitedaboutthe transitionbutknew itwouldcome withsome drasticchange,including financially. “MybiggestconcernwasI getboredeasily,”he concedes.“Ilove Grace and didn’twanttojointhe staff onlyto departbecause Iwas bored.Bill assuredme he didn’tthinkitwouldbe aproblem.Tothisday,10 yearslater, he still popshisheadinmy office withasmirkto inquire,‘Are youboredyet,Frank?’” Duringhistenure at Grace, Frankkeptpickinguppiecesthatneededtime,attentionandimprovement,including informationtechnology.He joinedthe seniorleadershipteamandwhenafriendaskedhimtoperforma marriage, he got ordained. As the church expandedtoinclude satellitelocations,Frankacceptedthe positionof Executive Pastor.Withfour locationsinthe Capital Region,Grace recognizedthe needforstructure change andcreatedCentral Support,the organizationFrankcurrentlyleads. “I’m still engagedinbusinessconsultingonthe side,”he says.“Itscratchesthe itchof wantingtohelpbusinesses grow throughstrategicmanagement,processimprovement,leadershipdevelopment,andinformationtechnology.” He’salsoon pace to complete his Doctorof BusinessAdministration, Organizational Leadership atLibertyUniversity duringsummer2017. “I didn’twantmy wife tohave a degree Ididn’thave,”he laughs.“Inreality,Ilove learningand wantto continuallyexpandmyknowledge base.” To professionalsconsideringthe UAlbanyWeekendMBA Program, Frank advises,“Be intentional aboutputtingyour familyfirst.If yourfamilycansurvive this,youshoulddoit.Itisa lotof workand abouthalf way through,you’ll wake up and wonderwhyyou’re doingit.Remainsteadfast.Asyoulooktothe future,youwill see yourselfwithanMBA and a whole worldof opportunitywill opentoyou.”
  4. 4. › COHORT STRUCTURE › 48 CREDITS IN 22 MONTHS › INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESIDENCY › VALUE LEADER › ALL-INCLUSIVE › INCREDIBLE STUDENT DIVERSITY All of Frank Deno’spersonal valueshave the wordgoodinthem: God isgood,life isgood,familyisgood,workis good.“Work hard, playhard andenjoylife asmuchas you can,” he imparts.“That’swhy we’re here.” Connectwith FrankDeno here: LinkedIn Click here to learn more about UAlbany’s executive Weekend MBA Program.