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USF Alumnus, now Delta Air Lines Senior VP, helps students anticipate real world

Tampa, FL (October 25, 2012) — When Mike Randolfi graduated from USF in 1993 with a finance degree, he immediately went to work for Raymond James as a staff accountant.

Judges panel

Most would consider that a success, but Randolfi said when he got into the working world, he realized that he needed to further strengthen his accounting knowledge.

So, while working at Raymond James full time, he took night classes at USF and earned a second major in accounting.

That education served him well as a knowledge base for his career that has led him to a position as senior vice president and controller for Delta Air Lines, where he has worked for more than 13 years.

"I feel incredibly fortunate," Randolfi said. "Twenty years ago, USF was instrumental in building a base set of skills for me to be successful in the workplace."

Now, Randolfi returns to USF frequently to help students get a sense of the real world they are about to graduate into. This month alone, he visited the USF campus twice in one week: once to serve in his advisory board role for the Applied Security Analysis course, and the second time to serve as head judge for the Undergraduate Case Competition. He joked that working for an airline gives him a revised sense of distance.

Both the Applied Security Analysis course and the case competition give students a chance to interact with professionals from the working world in high-pressure situations. This year, Randolfi was head judge for the case competition, which gave students the task of strategically positioning Delta Air Lines to grow its market share. Staying up overnight to work on a presentation isn't an abstract situation, he told students – it's one he faced during the merger of Delta and Northwest Airlines, which he said was one of the biggest challenges and opportunities of his career.

Randolfi said he's glad USF has placed emphasis on giving students opportunities to be evaluated -- and sometimes criticized -- by professionals who want to help them grow.

"I do think the finance capstone class we had at the time was pretty good, but quite honestly, I think what we have today is better," he said.

When he comes to campus, Randolfi said he's impressed by the experiences students can have now at USF, from cheering on the Bulls football team to living on campus with other business students. However, he's glad he still gets to experience it as an active alumnus.

"I really see tremendous momentum behind the University of South Florida," he said.