Tony Sithonnorath

For Tony Sithonnorath, returning to college for his MBA and then his Master of Science in Business Analytics was an investment…in himself.



University advancement to a different degree

Tony Sithonnorath was just a couple years into his role working for the State of Iowa when he started asking himself, “How do I advance my career?”

He had his undergrad degree. He was married and thinking of starting a family. And he had accepted a challenging role within the Iowa Department of Human Services, completing applications for Medicaid, and food and cash assistance.

A full life.

But Tony was looking for more, so he looked to the University of Iowa.

“I was initially drawn to the Tippie College of Business because of its ranking,” he says, “and I knew pursuing my MBA there would help progress my career.”

Progress it did. Before finishing his graduate studies, Tony was promoted to a policy position within the State government.

Tony Sithonnorath

“The quality of education at Iowa was absolutely top notch,” he continues. “All my professors cared about me as both a student and as a person while I was getting my graduate degree.”

Location, location, location

Living in Des Moines, Tony took full advantage of the Pappajohn Education Center, located downtown just across from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a location that would prove prescient.

“At the time, I was still working with the State,” he explains, “but through that experience at Pappajohn, I kept seeing Wellmark’s building. It sparked my interest. I kept wondering, “How can I get in there?””

After 6.5 years with the State, Tony made the move to Wellmark, with his Iowa MBA in hand and ambition still on his mind, eventually becoming a team leader of the Quality Program and Accreditation. 

Communication is key

As a team leader, Tony’s job is to understand what both his colleagues and industry experts are telling him.

“I knew I had to do a better job speaking the language of analytics,” he says. “When communicating with my team and my colleagues, I needed to more fully understand their work and what they were saying. That’s why I pursued my second master’s. I returned to Iowa for technical skills, but my ability to communicate, especially with my business analytics colleagues, was also tremendously improved.”

One university, two degrees, three children

That degree didn’t come easy. Nearly a decade after receiving his first graduate degree, Tony and his wife had three children.

“I not only had to get my colleagues and leaders at work on board, but also my family,” he says.

While the demands on Tony’s time were magnified the second time around, the decision to pursue his Master of Business Analytics at Tippie was, in Tony’s words...

“I’m so glad I chose Iowa. The quality of the education, the caring from the staff…since graduation, they still keep in touch. I really feel connected to the program.”

The best investment

A dozen years removed from his MBA and a couple years from his Master of Science in Business Analytics, how does Tony feel about his choices?

“My education was ultimately an investment in myself–the one investment I’m always confident in,” he says and then smiles, “I joke that if I could get paid for learning, that would be my career. Choosing the University of Iowa was the next best thing–having a career and the opportunity to pursue professional growth through the University.”

Tony now has his MBA. He has his Master of Science in Business Analytics. He’s collected years of professional experience both in government and at Wellmark. And he has a beautiful family.

“I’m in a really good place for the future.”