2019 Best Online MBAs: Elisa Stampf, Indiana University (Kelley)

Elisa Stampf

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“A dreamer and a doer with a passion for people and changing our world.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

Fun fact about yourself:  I’m a military brat that has lived in half a dozen states. Additionally, I’m the oldest of five children – each born in a different state. Despite not having a place where I’m “from,” I love calling Chicago “home.”

Undergraduate School and Degree: Illinois College – Management & Organizational Leadership

Where are you currently working? The Hartford, Senior Sales Representative

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  In 2015, I became the first new member of a tenured workers compensation underwriting department in more than six years. The department consistently struggled with messaging to the company underwriters and sales team. Since I arrived from a company underwriter role, I understood where this department was lacking in their messaging. I received approval from my department head to develop and implement a company-wide training program to change the face of the department and improve our relations-and-loss ratio. In less than a year, I created a full-day training program (that could be adapted for half-day classes), trained my department, and traveled to more than a dozen states representing nearly the entire company footprint. Our loss ratio dropped substantially and even saw small profits within the first two years. Additionally, the company started gaining traction with company sales and underwriting teams because the message was clearer than it had previously been. Even though I am no longer with that company, the training methods and messaging I started are still being used today.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Indiana for their reputation, capabilities, and the people. They were the first program that intentionally worked to know who I was as an individual and as a professional. Furthermore, they created a feeling of an in-person program despite the distance. The program provides an in-person week annually as well as networking events, study abroad programs, and opportunities for leadership. Kelley has a robust offering, but still works with every individual to ensure a sense of community and belonging.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program?  I enjoyed the flexibility of my online MBA – particularly the ability to re-watch each class. This flexibility helped me schedule my classes in my life, absorb information easier, and learn at my own pace. Additionally, professors treated us like professionals. They were willing to work with tough schedules and leveraged our expertise in our given fields to help us individually and as a class. Many of my classes allowed me the opportunity to study my company strategically and evaluate it against business norms and practices. Not only was I able to immediately apply what I was learning, but I’ve also been able to help my company with the discoveries I’ve made.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment?  The ease of communication and collaboration consistently surprised me. Even with several time zones, schedules and learning styles, the Kelley School of Business made it easy to connect and establish rapport. My biggest concern about the online platform was the lack of connection, but that was quickly dispelled within the first week of classes due to the concerted efforts of the entire Kelley team.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student?  The biggest difference was my work and life balance. As an undergraduate, I worked a few jobs, but they were typically on campus and much more willing to bend to a school schedule. As a working professional in a highly demanding sales job, it’s a different look and feel altogether. The time management, communication, and leadership skills I’ve developed as a result are already invaluable in my current role and I anticipate using them for the rest of my professional career.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?  The best advice I can give any applicant is to schedule and prioritize your life. You’ll do your best work in any area when you’re ready to focus on it. I often joke that I “binge” whatever my focus is on. One night, I focus solely on work, while the next evening could be studying for an exam or writing a paper. However, don’t work all of the time! I always schedule an evening doing what gives me joy. Rest is essential! Creating balance will help you avoid burnout. It is the toughest, but most rewarding, part of adding an MBA program to your life.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? This is a difficult question to answer because I enjoyed my experience immensely. However, if I had to change any aspect, I’d push to have smaller groups or cohorts that have similar program paths. My biggest adjustment was the lack of in-person interaction. While everyone moves at their own pace in these programs, I would relish the opportunity to work with a smaller group of people throughout my time to allow for deeper relationships and better in-class interaction.

How has your online education helped you in your current job?  Aside from being able to apply learning concepts immediately, I’ve become more organized, thoughtful, and intentional with my current work. I’ve already transitioned to a new company as a result of my education, and I look forward to advancement upon completion.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why?  Absolutely! Aside from the financial benefits of a graduate degree, my MBA experience has provided a lifelong network of driven, intelligent and diverse professionals. I have a family across the globe thanks to the Kelley School of Business!

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  C-suite-to-professor is my ultimate professional goal. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I want the future of business to be more female. My goal is to help pave the way for future generations and make the leadership throughout the business world more diverse in people and in thought. Secondarily, I know my degree will help me to conquer the business world, but it wouldn’t mean as much to me if I couldn’t ultimately give back and change the face of business. My favorite professors were always the ones with real-world experience and stories to share. I have the privilege of diverse experience in my short decade in business, but I look forward to the next chapter as I help others write their own.



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