The Road Less Traveled: A Non-traditional Journey to Success

Posted on June 15, 2022 by MCOB

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“I was 19 years old when I took a break from school and started working for an electrician. I was making $5 an hour. By the time I finished, I was making $27 an hour and that’s how I bought my first truck.” Growing up in Pascagoula, MS as a “B” average student from a blue collar family, alum Noah Roche’s unconventional story is one of hard work and resilience. While regularly working 50-65 hours a week as a waiter and graduate assistant, Roche earned his undergraduate degree in Finance in 2013 and a Master’s of Business Administration in 2015 from South. Now a treasury consultant at the Deloitte office in Dallas, Texas, Roche is working with one of the largest retailers in the U.S. His story echoes the value of drive, creativity, and the purposeful combination of natural aptitudes with education. 

Roche’s strong will and resilience have propelled him to an impressive, albeit unorthodox, path of success. Shortly after high school, he bounced between community colleges and a semester at the University of Alabama before returning home, where he took a low-paying job as an electrician’s apprentice. Uncertain about what direction to pursue in life, he decided to pack up and go back to school. The Mitchell College of Business at the University of South Alabama was waiting and ready to afford opportunities for growth. 

While at South, Roche leveraged all of the resources available to him and excelled as an MCOB student. Balancing a full-time class load and working full time,  was an active member of the Financial Management Association (FMA) and Southerner. In graduate school, Roche continued to challenge himself outside of college, taking risks and pursuing experiential learning opportunities. After taking out a small loan and flipping a condo, he rented out the living space to friends and enjoyed the benefit of a project well-done and minimized living expenses. Roche also focused his energy on building lasting relationships with peers, faculty and professionals. He noted that the mentorship of Dr. Alvin Williams was particularly impactful as the two developed a strong relationship founded in a common enjoyment of learning. Of Roche, Dr. Williams reflected saying, “Noah worked as a graduate assistant in Marketing. He was smart, a quick learner, engaging, enjoyed defending his points of view and developed rapport with others easily.  We enjoyed many conversations about everything in the world, which we both probably left more knowledgeable than when we started. While Noah was a finance major, he possessed marketing-like qualities, the combination of which has propelled his professional success. There was never any doubt that he would land in corporate America and carve a success path anchored in his South Alabama roots.” Roche and Dr. Williams still maintain contact today, now as both professionals and friends. 

Approaching graduation from the MBA program, Roche readied for the workplace and set his sights on a consulting career. When IBM visited the Mitchell College, he took initiative and made contacts that eventually led to an entry level position. Since, Roche has embodied confident diligence and a willingness to adapt, taking job opportunities with high-growth potential and levels of responsibility at top firms including Ernest and Young and Deloitte. 

Today, Roche is innovating in a globalized marketplace on projects for major clients at Deloitte. He aspires to continue growing his skill set, building connections around the globe and giving back to the community. He offers sound wisdom in reflection of his experience,, “Tell people where you want to go, and they’ll give you the work to help you get there...Be willing to sacrifice and put in the work; not everyone is willing to put effort, time, and energy into giving back and working hard. Put the time in.” His message rings true and clear: immense success is possible if diligence precedes. Noah Roche has worked for such success and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. 

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