2019 Best Online MBAs: Latanya Black, USC (Marshall)

Latanya Black

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“I really enjoy working with diverse professionals to achieve a common goal efficiently and realistically.”

Age: 35

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Fun fact about yourself: I was on the Martha Stewart television show live once as a model supporting a friend who was launching a new business.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Florida A & M University, Computer Information Systems

Where are you currently working? Nike, Digital Product Creation Transition Manager

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In December 2018, I took part in leading a major transformational initiative at Nike that enabled 800 employees in the Apparel & Manufacturing departments to become more efficient in developing and creating new Apparel products. The teamwork and the dedication to progress over perfection was inspiring and allowed the team to achieve what many thought was impossible.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The curriculum at USC Marshall is closely aligned to my career goals and the program has a focus on helping students build lasting relationships through the Trojan network.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part about the online MBA program was collaborating with diverse professionals from around the world. I learned a great deal from the faculty as well as other students in the cohort through their work and life experiences. Thanks to the intellectual capital shared in the program through discussion forums and peer discussions, I was able to successfully transition from the technology industry to the apparel industry.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising aspect of the online learning environment is the increased social interactions among the students and the availability of the faculty. Every day, you have an opportunity to interact with your fellow students in the online program through peer discussion forums, chat messages, and group projects. These interactions represent new and exciting learning opportunities.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The main difference between the traditional classroom experience and online experience is group dynamics. I interact more frequently with my online cohort through chat messages and video than the students in my undergrad program. The group dynamics in an online program tends to be continually maintained in online learning. In the classroom setting, there was little group contact between class times.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Establish and build relationships from the start. There are group projects that will give you an opportunity to work with some students, but my best advice would be investing the time to get to know all your fellow classmates.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? In a traditional classroom setting, writing is just one tool in your toolkit. While important, writing usually complements other forms of communication and assessment, notably in-person dialogue and presentation. With online learning, the bulk of assignments and class communication is written and via email or instant messaging, so solid writing skills are essential for success. One thing I would change is at the start of the program to focus time on the writing skills that are so essential, so no time is wasted on miscommunication or ambiguity.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My online education has helped me to further develop skills in writing, inquiry, critical thinking, problem-solving and strategic thinking. I have combined these skills with my experience to manage and lead key strategic projects in a global environment achieving in many cases operational efficiency, cost reductions, and profit margin increases.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? I simply learn better in a collaborative setting, so I would do it over again.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? In the next five years, I aspire to get into the C-suite at a financial services company leading sustainability and diversity and inclusion initiatives. In the next 10 years, I aspire to start my own company with a focus on helping companies identify and achieve their sustainability goals to provide a better future for the next generation.



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