James P. McNally
15 Word Description of Yourself: I believe that challenges are just occurrences waiting to be turned into milestones.
Hometown: Bridgewater, New Jersey
Fun fact about yourself: I was a DIII All-American basketball player for Franklin & Marshall College.
Undergraduate School and Degree: Franklin & Marshall College. BA in Economics, minor in applied mathematics.
Where are you currently working? The Toa Reinsurance Company of America. Vice President in Treaty Underwriting. Working mainly in Casualty and Professional Liability.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After finishing my company’s management training program, I entered the Underwriting department. With the help of a good mentor and friend, I began writing my own business. Writing my first few treaties and successfully integrating a retired colleague’s portfolio into my own was a proud and defining moment in my career.
Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Lehigh University for a multitude of reasons. I was looking for a university with a strong reputation and a challenging academic curriculum. Lehigh boasts a highly qualified staff and rigorous MBA curriculum. Additionally, I frequently travel for work so I needed a program that I could complete remotely at times so as to not miss too many classes. Lehigh was the only program I came across that offered a seamless in-person or online ‘Classroom Live’ program. I could attend class in-person one week and log on live to that very same class the next week from anywhere in the world. Lehigh’s cutting edge use of technology allowed me the benefits of attending live class sessions even from a remote location. I could be seen and heard just like any other student during class; I was able to ask and answer questions, and I was able to work with other students both attending physically or remotely.
What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The flexibility of Lehigh’s program was unparalleled. I attended about 25% of the classes on campus, and the remaining classes I logged in remotely. Without Lehigh’s innovative use of technology, I would have never been able to attend graduate school without stepping away from my professional career for a significant period of time. I received the benefits of a live classroom learning environment no matter where I was geographically located.
What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised at the number of students who took advantage of the online platform. Even students who physically attended a majority of classes still occasionally took advantage of the remote, but live, attendance for personal or work-related reasons. I even had one classmate who attended class live via his seat on an airplane!
How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I feel that the graduate experience is inherently different than the undergraduate experience in terms of the mentality of approaching the program. Lehigh offered a program that was online, but with classes streamed live, so I was not watching recorded lectures or just reading assignments on my computer. Instead, I was instead actively participating during live classes and collaborating with other students. Whether I attended class physically or remotely, I felt that the experience was essentially identical – a true testament to the program and the extra efforts put forth by the professors and technical support staff.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Any person working through an online (or any graduate program) should be proactive in order to be successful. It can be a little easier to hide from your professors and not contribute as much when you are exclusively online. Keep in mind that this program is your choice and to get the maximum benefit out of it, you must push yourself. Why go through the motions? The degree will be what you make it.
How has your online education helped you in your current job? My company was very supportive of my pursuit for a graduate degree throughout the program. After graduating, I was told by my supervisors that they were proud of my accomplishments, both at work and with my graduate studies. A short period later, I earned a promotion to Vice President.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? I would absolutely pursue my MBA again with Lehigh University. I would not be happy about starting over due to the commitment and sacrifice necessary because I am very much enjoying the reclamation of my free time!
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? TBD.