George L. Vann, Jr.
“High energy leader who enjoys developing people and organizations to achieve extraordinary results.”
Hometown: Leesburg, Georgia
Fun fact about yourself: I met my wife in a step aerobics class. I think that definitely dates me!
Undergraduate School and Degree: Georgia Tech, Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering
Where are you currently working? WR Grace, Vice President, Sales, Specialty Catalysts
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’ve had a lot of achievements that I’m proud of over my career, and picking just one is impossible. All of my proud achievements are the results of excellent individuals I’ve had the opportunity to work with. Being able to coach and mentor individuals, and watch them get promoted to higher levels within the companies I’ve worked for, have been the achievements I get the most satisfaction from.
Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? About two years ago, I was in a job transition with a previous company, and decided to go back to school to get my MBA. Due to my work schedule, I needed the flexibility of an online program versus an in-class option. The key factors in my decision were reputation of the program, length of time the program had been in existence, time to complete the degree requirements, and tuition cost. After researching multiple options, the Georgia Southern online MBA program provided the best value for me.
What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I definitely enjoyed the team that I joined at the beginning of the program. We’ve developed a great relationship that extends beyond just the program.
What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised by the time commitment needed to complete the coursework. At orientation, both professors and recent graduates reiterated the importance of not underestimating the time commitment. However, until you are actually in the class, it’s easy to dismiss these warnings. This online program was the equivalent of taking on a second job. It is definitely not “easier” than attending a class in person.
How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? An online program takes more discipline to make sure you keep up with the coursework. It’s been awhile since I was an undergraduate, but one thing I remember is that I could procrastinate and still get my assignments done on time. With a wife and work commitments, I could not afford to put off studying, because I would not be able to catch up if I did. Although there is obviously more interaction between students and the professor in the regular classroom, I did not feel this was a missing in the online program. My team regularly met once a week, and kept in touch between meetings with emails and texts. Professors were very accessible and responded in a timely manner to any questions or concerns.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Take the online program seriously, and commit to learning the material. It is a significant time and financial commitment, but it is worth it when you finish. Don’t take shortcuts. The material you are learning will be used in your career.
How has your online education helped you in your current job? At this stage of my career, most of the concepts covered were not new to me. However, I gained a deeper understanding of the background behind the material we learned. This deeper foundational base allowed me to communicate with greater conviction about strategic topics since I understood the basis behind them. In my role as VP of sales, I’m a member of the leadership team of the business. The classes on marketing, entrepreneurship, strategy, global business, organizational behavior, finance, accounting, operations management, and management information systems have been a greater refresher and culmination of everything I’ve learned during my career. I use elements of all classes almost every day.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? I absolutely would do this again. This experience has reminded me of things I previously learned and forgot. I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of the business concepts I’ve used freely and with less knowledge over the past 25 years. I’ve also learned some new things that will help me professionally and personally. This has been a deeply enriching experience, and I’m glad I did it.
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’ve been a senior executive for over five years. At this point, my professional goals are less about moving to the next promotion, and more about developing the next generation of business leaders. I would like to be viewed as a trusted advisor and mentor both within my organization as well as within the industry, at all levels from operators on the shop floor to the C-suite.