M.B.A. degree takes Henderson alum to the top

Brent Sharpmack joined the Little Rock CPA firm Hudson, Cisne & Co. immediately after earning his M.B.A. from Henderson State in 2003. After passing his CPA exam, Sharpmack was promoted to senior accountant and rapidly advanced through the ranks until he was named a partner just 12 years later in 2015.

Sharpmack credits both his undergraduate and graduate studies at Henderson for his success. But it was the broad scope of the M.B.A. that proved advantageous in his ascent to partnership.

“I researched and visited different graduate programs, but decided on my M.B.A. because it gave me a better understanding of business, and not just accounting,” Sharpmack said. “There were other graduate programs that would have had a greater focus in accounting, but would not have given me the opportunity to advance my knowledge at the graduate level in other areas of business.

“I use marketing to help attract new clients; I use economics to better consult with my clients; and I use management to help staff my firm and give them the same opportunity to advance that I was provided.”

Sharpmack graduated cum laude from Henderson in 2002 with a B.B.A. in accounting, then earned his M.B.A. with an emphasis in accounting, graduating with honors.

A longtime interest in business and a curiosity about the different dynamics of a successful business model put Sharpmack on the path to a business degree.

“I learned early on that accounting was going to be an instrumental part of business no matter what stage of the business cycle I wanted to get into,” he said. “So I started in accounting and branched out from there.”

Sharpmack was sold on Henderson when he visited the campus as a high school student.

“I knew it was the perfect match for me,” he said. “I enjoyed the size of the campus and the people I met. I remember sitting down with the School of Business dean at that time and he walked me through every aspect of obtaining my accounting degree, and that meant a lot to me.

“All-in-all, it was a great first impression that became difficult to beat while visiting other campuses.”

As Sharpmack worked to complete his undergraduate degree, he learned to appreciate the “personal touch” provided by the Henderson faculty.

“They invested in me and not just my path to graduation. I wasn’t just a number or a stat, but they truly wanted me to succeed once I left Henderson,” he said. “They wanted me to pass the CPA exam, not just graduate.

“They wanted me to find my career after I graduated, not just a job somewhere. They wanted me to think business, not just accounting. This well-balanced approach helped me start my career and allowed me to advance.”

Sharpmack said he highly recommends Henderson’s M.B.A. program and urges students to “sell themselves.”

“I think the M.B.A. program has a lot of good things going for it: good research opportunities; team approach projects; a network of classmates who can help each other; and courses that cover all aspects of business and not just specific traits,” he said.

“My advice to current students would be to gain the confidence to sell themselves: sell themselves to their professors now; sell themselves to their future employer soon; and sell themselves to their future clients later,” he said. “They have a great education and work ethic to sell. However, it starts with them being able to communicate that knowledge.”

Looking ahead, Sharpmack plans to “grow our firm, continue to provide jobs for new students coming out of college, and giving those recruits the same growth opportunity that I was fortunate to receive.”

For more information about Henderson’s M.B.A. program, go to hsu.edu/MBA.