2019 Best Online MBAs: Ethan Dollar, Indiana University (Kelley)

Ethan Dollar

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Determined, hardworking, ambitious Southern boy always looking for a challenge or an exciting new adventure.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Wynne, Arkansas

Fun fact about yourself: I have hit four continents with plans to hit all seven by the time I’m 30.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Arkansas – BS Industrial Engineering

Where are you currently working? Lockheed Martin, Manufacturing Supervisor

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I would say that, so far, my most proud achievement in my career is the fact that I was accepted into and completed the Operations Leadership Development Program (OLDP) at Lockheed Martin. This is a program that only selects those who demonstrate future leadership potential to enter a series of four rotations across the company focused within production operations, quality, and supply chain.  Throughout this program, I had the chance of working in three different facilities, three different states, and four different roles, all while being exposed to countless aspects of the business. This program pushed me well outside my comfort zone and developed me into a more well-rounded professional.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose IU for my online MBA degree based on the stellar reputation that the Kelley School of Business has in its offering of a well-rounded program. The program not only teaches the curriculum, but also offers you countless opportunities to put that knowledge to work. They range from things like on-campus case study projects to taking part in an AGILE course that allows you to travel to another country and partner with other businesses on projects. I wanted a program that was going to give me opportunities to not only learn in the classroom but also demonstrate that knowledge in a different setting. Kelley’s online MBA program did exactly that and so much more.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I would have to say that my favorite part of being in an online MBA program is the opportunities that I have received to network and share stories with students from all around the world. Every quarter, I work in groups with students with vastly different experiences. It is always amazing to hear their insights and perspectives on the given subject. This gives me the opportunity to learn from them on what they have been able to do at their respective companies. Being able to connect the stories and projects of other students to the course work has been a great experience that I would say has furthered my education from this program.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I would say that one of the most surprising things about the online learning environment is how easy it was to interact with students and professors regardless of geographic location. My initial thought before considering an online MBA program was that interacting with students and making connections would require significantly more work than in my undergraduate program. To my surprise, the setup of the online learning environment has facilitated those interactions in a manner that allows us all to learn from each other with much more ease than I ever expected.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I would say that one of the drastic differences between my online experience and my in-the-classroom experience is the level of engagement between the other students and the professor. In the online experience, a large portion of the class is more focused around discussions within the class related to the material, which is a slight change from what my experience was like in my undergraduate classes. The back-and-forth discussions have allowed for students as well as the professor to share stories that aid in the learning of the subject material.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Be engaged. I would have to say that this is by far the best piece of advice I could offer an applicant. If one truly wants to thrive in an online MBA program and enhance their overall experience, being engaged would have to be one of the keys to success. The more engaged you are, the more you will learn, not only from the coursework and the professor but also from your fellow classmates. We all have a story. When students can combine that experience with the coursework, everyone is able to gain more insights than from just the coursework alone.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Overall, I don’t think there is much that I would change about an online MBA program. I would say that IU’s online MBA program has a healthy mix of coursework paired with real-world application that ties all the learning together very well. However, finding new ways to give students more opportunities to apply what they have learned in classes to real world applications continuously throughout the program may enhance their overall experience.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Absolutely. The overall experience within the online MBA program has been fantastic.  From the coursework to the connections to the opportunities of growth within my company, the program has provided me more than I could have ever imagined. The online program has provided me with the flexibility to continue my professional career and to continue my education all at the same time.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I hope to pursue entrepreneurship by starting my own company that can positively influence the community around me. My drive and determination have always been focused around improvement. I believe that one day, by combining my work experience as well as my education, I can build a company that is focused on solving relevant problems in the world around us.



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