2019 Best Online MBAs: Angeline Gross, University of Florida (Hough)

Angeline Gross

University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business Online MBA Program

“I have two superpowers: smashing glass ceilings and empowering young women to do the same.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Royal Palm Beach, FL

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an avid ten-pin bowler. I’ve been bowling seriously since I was 14, bowled for UF’s club team in undergrad, and even met my husband bowling. My highest sanctioned score is 254.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Florida – Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, 2012

Bachelor of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering

Minors in Business Administration, Sales Engineering

Where are you currently working? I work at NextEra Energy Resources where I’m currently a Senior Reliability Engineer on the Renewables Strategy & Innovation team.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? A few years ago, I was working as a Production Assurance Engineer at our new combined cycle power plant in Riviera Beach, Florida. Being on the “front lines” of the energy business made this the toughest job I’ve ever had – and several outages in the South Florida summer heat further challenged me. More than once, I suffered the effects of imposter syndrome and doubted my capabilities as an engineer.

While I was running around managing teams and activities during one such outage, a contractor stopped me. He said, “I want you to know I told my daughters about you.” I was stunned. To this day, it’s the most meaningful compliment I’ve ever received.

I grew up with the dream of becoming an engineer, but it wasn’t always easy to see myself in a role with few women. Today, I’m so proud to be that role model for the girls and young women who will become tomorrow’s leaders.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose the University of Florida for two reasons. First, UF maintains a stellar academic reputation, with its business programs consistently highly ranked by several sources including US News & World Report, the Financial Times, and Poets & Quants. Second, among the three online MBA programs to which I applied (and was accepted), UF was the only institution to recognize my business administration minor and allow me into the 16-month program – unlike the other schools, which were at least 24 months. The opportunity to earn my MBA at a world-class institution in record time made UF an easy choice.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? For me, the best part of an online MBA program is the ability to continue my academic pursuits without sacrificing my professional role within the energy industry.

With the convergence of machine learning/artificial intelligence, energy independence, and the green revolution, I live in exciting times – and I don’t want to miss a minute of the action. At the same time, I consider myself a lifelong learner and truly enjoy being in the classroom. Earning my MBA online gave me the best of both worlds.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The engagement of the faculty and staff! Even though lectures are pre-recorded, professors go out of their way to ensure their students are properly served, from providing detailed written feedback on assignments to meeting students on calls or video chats to review the material. I can specifically recall one professor who read and commented on every post on our online discussion boards – now that’s dedication! Furthermore, UF operates a dedicated Student Affairs team just for its MBA programs, and it’s truly a concierge service.  Anytime I had a question or concern, I would message or email a member of the team and receive an answer in just a few hours – and sometimes minutes!

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Get to know your teammates and your cohort. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together and these are the only people on the planet who can truly understand the rigors of your online MBA program while you’re going through it. These students will become your second family, so make those connections, spend time together, and help each other. You will be rewarded with friends you can count on for life.

If possible, I also encourage you to meet up for extracurricular activities. During our on-campus orientation week, we’d unwind together at some of the local bars and restaurants in the evening. In the fall, several students attended the National Black MBA Association Conference in Detroit. And that winter, some of us also met up to tailgate and watch the homecoming football game in The Swamp. I even heard about another cohort that went to Disney World!

What would you change about an online MBA Program? On the same note as my previous answer, I would like to see online MBA programs continue to increase and improve the networking opportunities between students. Here are some examples:

  • Encouraging the use of online discussion boards, especially to read and respond to other students’ commentary.
  • Hosting digital video chat “common rooms”, so students studying the same subject could more easily and spontaneously convene.
  • Make mandatory team rotations every semester.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Another benefit to earning my MBA online is the ability to directly apply what I’ve learned. For example, Professional Writing immediately improved my writing and speaking abilities; Negotiations refined my persuasive techniques; and Product Development showed me how to generate innovative ideas by applying a proven step-by-step process. Likewise, classes such as Corporate Finance, International Logistics, and Global Strategic Management gave me a better sense for how our company as a whole wants to operate and achieve its goals – financially, strategically, and globally.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? In a heartbeat. Earning my MBA has been a goal of mine since undergrad, when I started taking my first business classes and quickly realized – through my internship experiences – that an MBA would be necessary to reach upper management. I just feel so blessed to have had such an amazing experience, thanks to my fellow students, the faculty, and staff.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to become a respected leader in renewable energy. I believe the United States has the potential to run on 80% renewable energy by 2050, and I’d love to help us get there.



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