2019 Best Online MBAs: Jacqueline Elliott, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Jacqueline Elliott

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“I am a lifelong-learner motivated by unlocking the passion and success of those around me.”

Age: 30

Hometown: ​Concord, CA

Fun fact about yourself: ​I’ve been a lifelong swimmer opposed to land endeavors. Since living in Michigan for the past 7 years, I’ve taken up running and I am on a journey to run 30 half marathons in 30 states.

Undergraduate School and Degree: ​University of California – Davis. Double major in Economics and International Relations

Where are you currently working?​ Google, Product and Sales Strategy

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? ​I built the first differentiated support model to deliver a more tailored experience to both large chain business customers and smaller single-location customers. The results were higher customer satisfaction, stronger team retention, and ultimately an investment from product teams to expand globally, and operationalize our model.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? ​Tepper has a cohort-based flexible program that would allow me to explore companies across the United States. Additionally, more than any other school I applied to, they showed in their application process that they really invest in making their students’ experience the best it can possibly be.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? ​The flexibility. Not only can I do the work at my pace in between our weekly class sessions, but I can take classes from anywhere. Throughout my program, I’ve been able to travel across the country for work, and take international vacations without missing any class time.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? ​I’m am so surprised by how well I’ve gotten to know people in my program. The 60-person cohort size that I was a part of at Tepper was the perfect size to know everyone, while still delivering a diversity of experiences and backgrounds to make every class a little different. We are also all in touch constantly outside of our weekends together, and really have relationships that go well beyond the MBA program itself.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? ​I’d say my undergraduate classroom experiences were pretty much on par with my online MBA in terms of quality. Of course, there are many, many advantages to the masters’ degree program that I enjoyed such as the smaller class sizes, more contact with professors, and more interactions with classmates. These can be hard to replicate in the online environment, and Tepper did an incredible job.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?

​Not all online classes are created equally, so you need to find one that does intentionally serve the needs you’re looking for. In my case, I wanted a group of people I would be close to so I opted for a cohort-based online program. There are many other things to optimize toward with an online program, so identify what that is for you and go find it.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Broadly speaking, I would love to change the perception that online MBA programs are lesser programs. That’s not been my experience with Tepper. When I mention it’s an online program, people automatically think less of it while other programs like Ross Weekend program does not have that same stigma. I think online MBA programs need to set their bar high, realizing it’s not just enough to be good—they have to be leaders, pioneers, and innovators.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? ​In a heartbeat. The program broke me out of a bubble, injected new ideas into my day-to-day, and gave me a network of people I can turn to throughout the rest of my career. Any one of these benefits doesn’t happen every day, and to have gotten all three every day throughout the last 2.5 years has been an incredible stretch opportunity in my career.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? ​My ultimate goal is to support women of all backgrounds to pursue their career ambitions, raise ceilings, and act as leaders. No matter what role I have, this is the ultimate goal and guiding light I have for my career.



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