In today’s innovation-driven workplace, business knowledge and technology expertise have become essential twin assets for career advancement.

Professionals aspiring to take their careers to the next level can prepare themselves by acquiring or honing a wide range of business and technology skills through Virginia Tech’s MBA-Master of Information Technology dual-degree program.

Take Carlos Muñoz, for example.

When he decided to enroll in this dual-degree program at Virginia Tech, Muñoz was already an experienced and well credentialed IT professional with 20-plus years of network engineering and information security experience. He knew where he wanted to be  — “at the burgeoning intersection of business and technology” — and he wanted to move up in management.

Muñoz currently manages a team of network engineers for a Fortune 1000 company, where he helps to build out, maintain, and secure various network communications systems for a variety of clients.

He had earned a bachelor’s degree in computer networking and cybersecurity from the University of Maryland, taking courses on base and online while serving eight years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps as an information security and IT specialist.

In 2018, he added a master’s in technology management, with a concentration in information security, from Georgetown University. Georgetown’s program, he said, was focused on training and teaching today’s IT specialists to become tomorrow’s chief information officers and chief information systems officers.

“I observed that many of the CIOs and CISOs who would guest speak or lecture had not only a technical background but also more than one master’s degree — one technical and usually an MBA,” Muñoz said.

With his sights set on an executive-level career in the cybersecurity business, Muñoz concluded that his decades of technical skills and experience were not enough.

“I knew I had to learn the business side if I ever wanted to break through the engineering ceiling and earn my way up to the C-suite or executive levels of my career field. It is why I chose Virginia Tech for the MBA-MIT graduate program.”

Muñoz had actually applied to a couple of graduate programs in metro Washington, D.C., and was already accepted by one well-known university in the area.

“However, the more I analyzed and explored my options, the more I realized that there are very few institutions where I could find that balance of business and cybersecurity.” The cybersecurity specialization available with Virginia Tech’s MBA intrigued him.

“I was very impressed with Virginia Tech’s long history and proud legacy of a strong engineering program.” When he learned that the dual MBA-MIT program was a partnership between the College of Engineering and the Pamplin College of Business, he said: “I knew I had found my new home.”

The most rewarding aspect of his studies so far, he said, has been learning from some of the industry’s top cybersecurity leaders.

Citing faculty members Wade Baker and David Simpson for their dedication and prowess in translating “some of the most complex and intricate concepts into very simple-to-understand nuggets of valuable information,” Muñoz said: “Their classes go beyond the textbook and lecture material — they really encourage and stimulate you to ‘think like an executive.’”

The cybersecurity governance and risk management course taught by Simpson allows the student “to peer behind the curtain and see how to manage risk from a more senior position,” Munoz said. “It forced me out of my ‘engineer’ comfort zone and approach problems, challenges, and scenarios wearing a different ‘hat.’”

Being a student while working full-time and helping to care for young children at home doesn’t leave him much time to take advantage of the program’s networking opportunities.

But Muñoz, who started the program in fall 2018, expects to have the MBA in hand in 2022, followed by the master of IT in spring 2023 — and he’s definitely looking forward to engaging in such activities as an alumnus.