2019 Best Online MBAs: Ariel Prochowski, Penn State University (Smeal)

Ariel Prochowski

The Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Online MBA Program, led by the Smeal College of Business in partnership with Penn State World Campus

Proactive learner, aspiring entrepreneur, and dedicated family man from New York City working for Apple.”

Age: 25

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Fun fact about yourself: I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I have traveled to Japan on business twelve times in one year alone!

Undergraduate School and Degree: The Schreyer Honors College @ the Pennsylvania State University – Smeal College of Business. Bachelor of Science in Finance with Honors.

Where are you currently working? Apple Inc – Senior Global Sourcing Manager

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Managing a $3.1B supply chain for Apple’s displays across all product lines and saving the company over $200M annually through negotiations with module and component suppliers. Bringing-up a strong second supplier source in the OLED module display market was a critical driver behind these cost savings; this was one of my first major contributions to the company.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Penn State is family to me. My undergraduate experience at the school lead me to my dream job at Apple and allowed me to learn from some of the best professors, faculty, staff, and colleagues in the world. My participation in the MBA program was a no-brainer given the desire to continue my growth within this education system.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in an online MBA program is the flexibility it provides. Juggling the program while working full-time at Apple, managing real estate, parenting a young chocolate Labrador, and maintaining some form of a social life has been chaotic, but it has also revealed to me the value of each ticking minute. Through this program, I have been fortunate to meet and collaborate with other like-minded, driven individuals all across the continent and even a few on the other side of the world.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The online experience and the in-the-classroom experience are different from their own respective pros and cons. Again, I am a huge supporter of how efficient it is to learn via an online platform: you already have all the notes in front of you, teammates do not waste time horsing around given their hectic work schedules, and assignments and deadlines are crystal clear. The downside of the online experience is that you miss that face-to-face interaction with professors and colleagues and are not able to easily get involved in extracurricular activities at the university.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? If I were to change anything about this MBA program, I would incorporate more opportunities for meet-up events (both educational and social) across the country for students and alumni of the program. It seems to me that most in-person MBA events are held in Penn State’s own State College, but it would be convenient if the school held more events in key cities throughout the nation so that students could take better advantage of the network. This can be woven into the curriculum or simply offered as a stand-alone extracurricular opportunity.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My online education has helped me from the smallest considerations (i.e., using hand gestures while presenting) to some very large ones (i.e., understanding organizational change management and why companies go through cyclical periods of growth and crisis). As a part of this MBA program, I am also pursuing a concentration in Negotiation & Influence, which goes hand-in-hand with my job as a negotiator for Apple. Having this educational framework behind negotiation is critical for me given that I have never actually had formal training for it prior to this program.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Would I choose to do this again? Absolutely. My online MBA Penn State experience has been challenging, but also quite rewarding. The program will have you thinking about organizations in ways you never thought you would. This sort of revelation is priceless and only something you can learn in an MBA program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? With my newly refined negotiation dexterity, I plan on continuing to climb the corporate ladder at Apple in the San Francisco Bay Area. However, if an opportunity at another major corporation or at a start-up that I personally identify with presents itself, I may give it a shot if I think that I can make positive contributions and continue to grow my career in ways that I cannot at Apple.



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