2019 Best Online MBAs: Piaget Francois Shouldice, Lehigh University

Piaget Francois Shouldice

Lehigh University

“Strong-willed professional seeking to broaden my horizons through life-long learning and immersive travel experiences.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Houston, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I love to travel and experience new cultures through their cuisine, art, and history. I am currently living abroad in London while finishing my MBA

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Pittsburgh, B.S. Biomedical Engineering

Where are you currently working? Merck & Co., Inc. Regulatory Affairs Senior Specialist

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of spearheading the effort to establish the NextGen network at my company. NextGen network is a resource group aimed at generational inclusion, creating an internal source for business insights and retention of top talent amongst early career professionals. Through this network, I also created the business case and successfully lobbied senior leadership to increase the education assistance reimbursement amount to aid those who are interested in pursuing advanced degrees part-time.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Lehigh’s MBA program is consistently top-ranked in the nation on several reports and was the best value for money. Additionally, many alumni are with my company and the reputation is strong. I was also impressed by the classroom live capabilities and emphasis on the working professional

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? While I, as an online student, I do not feel like I missed out on anything. We had plenty of teamwork, so I was able to network with classmates. At the same time, great technology enablement made me feel like a live and active participant in class throughout the program

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was pleasantly surprised by how integrated the online learning environment was with the live classroom. We even did live breakout sessions during class, which paired online students with students present in the classroom and we always had very thought-provoking discussions and output

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My undergraduate and graduate experience could not have been more dissimilar. In undergraduate classes, there would be 100+ students in the class, little to no student discussion, and endless amounts of low-level homework. In my graduate online classes, the number of students in the class never seemed to exceed 40, and I learned so much from my fellow classmates through discussion and application using our real-world industry experience. Everything I learned felt instantly applicable to my current job or career aspirations.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Take advantage of all the technical capabilities and distance learning opportunities available to you. Don’t consider yourself at a disadvantage because you are learning remotely. Embrace the experience and take lessons learned to your workplace because the globalized nature of work these days is similar to the online learning experience. Also, use your webcam and be fully present: a face-to-face interaction makes for stronger relationship-building.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I think the Lehigh online MBA program could be enhanced with an increased focus on career opportunities for online MBA graduates. A lot of programs are only tailored towards in-person attendance, such as career fairs, company meet-and-greets, etc. I did feel at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding what companies are recruiting from Lehigh and post-program job opportunities.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Yes, I was promoted to a management acceleration program while completing my MBA. I moved from an engineering role to a business rotation program. I started a marketing assignment at work at the same time I was taking my marketing intro class and it was so helpful. I also started understanding my company finances and making meaningful contributions to my team budget and forecasting discussions thanks to my finance and accounting classes

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Yes, having a master’s degree in my industry seems to be a minimum requirement for ascending to levels of upper management. This degree will definitely open doors for me and I feel the content was extremely useful and relevant. As an engineer transitioning into business and management roles, it was important for me to be able to speak the language of finance, marketing, and human resource management.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am setting my sights high and I aspire to be a CEO of a large company that is contributing positively to society. I am motivated by making a difference in people’s lives, and I hope to do that by bringing value to the company, people I manage and our customers.



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