2019 Best Online MBAs: Matt Franz, Penn State University (Smeal)

Matt Franz

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

14 years of leadership, analytics, and logistics experience in the US Army and corporate arena.”

Age: 35

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Korea, Kuwait, Iraq, and Colorado. Florida is my favorite! I also have a passion for classic cars. I currently own a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS that my family and I enjoy taking to car shows.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Penn State University – MBA, dual concentrations in Project Management and Supply Chain Management

UCF – Bachelors, Business Administration

Where are you currently working? Preferred Materials, Inc. – A CRH Company; Logistics, Performance, and Strategy Manager

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leading soldiers in combat with a focus of “Mission First, People Always” is something I am very proud of. From a corporate standpoint, I am proud of my ability to positively impact the value captured within my telematics project. Through telematics, I’ve achieved in-transit visibility of 63% of our non-organic strategic transportation assets while establishing a digital timekeeping and payroll program across 20% of our fleet. By fall 2019, I expect to capture 100% of our fleet within the telematics program. A complete capture will act as a catalyst to a more efficient supply chain and distribution network. Also, I have reduced transportation requirements by 28% and decreased our carbon footprint by approximately 21 metric tons of CO2 per 1,000 miles driven.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I put a lot of effort into researching online MBA programs and sought a school that aligned with my personal values. I was able to create a top five list that I put into Excel to compare ranking, value for the cost, core courses, flexibility, and alumni feedback. Penn State checked all of those boxes for me. What really set Penn State apart from other programs, and sold me on their program, was the opportunity to join their extensive alumni network.

What was your favorite part of the online MBA experience? The ability to learn anywhere and anytime. I’ve studied at home, in airports, and in-between meetings. Anywhere you go, you can bring the Online MBA experience with you. Also, I can learn around “life”, meaning my wife, kids, and work obligations get a vote on when I study. Through the online platform, I can be a student and still fulfill my role as a husband, dad, and employee while working toward my MBA.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? My ability to engage with activities outside of the classroom. Here are some events and responsibilities where I was able to participate:

  • Penn State OMBA Ambassador Organization
  • President of the Penn State World Campus Sustainability Club
  • Treasurer of the Penn State Military Service Organization
  • FDNY Intensive Immersion Leadership event in New York
  • Smeal Professional Graduate Program Leadership Immersion event in Pennsylvania
  • OMBA football game event in State College
  • Penn State Bowl Game 2019

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I’ve taken stronger ownership of my learning through the online platform. I’ve designed a personal schedule that ensures I stay on track with readings, projects, and due dates while making time for family, work, and Army requirements. In the classroom as an undergrad, it was easy to become distracted or lose focus on the lesson. In an online forum, I can focus on coursework anytime or anywhere and tune out distractions.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Discipline and communication will build your platform for success. Self-discipline will help you to stay in step with the course syllabus and adhere to a rhythm that works for you. Some students choose early mornings while others prefer late nights. There is no wrong answer to when you study.

The importance of communication is often overlooked in an online environment. Penn State professors understand the requirements of the working professionals in the Online MBA program. It’s important for students to communicate scheduling issues early so the professors can work with you to make accommodations. An online MBA program offers the key benefit of flexibility for working professionals. Leverage that flexibility.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would remove any stigma associated with the quality of the education you receive from an online platform. Penn State’s Online MBA offers the same high-caliber education as a dedicated residency program. For example, Gartner recently ranked Penn State Smeal College of Business as the number one North American graduate supply chain program which encompasses in-person classes as well as the concentration courses offered by the Online MBA.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Classes such as Corporate Finance and Data Analysis for Decision Making have given me tools to better manage my current work projects. I’m able to better communicate performance analytics and their financial impacts at an executive level. I have absolutely seen personal growth that shows up on a daily basis at work.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Yes! This has been a tremendous growth opportunity for me which will pay dividends for my career progression.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Vice President of Transportation & Logistics. I want to leverage my past experience and education to influence the sustainability of an organization’s core values while positively impacting the experience of employees. I believe there is a balance that aligns both commercial and environmental sustainability to all stakeholders to include employees and shareholders.



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