2019 Best Online MBAs: Rebecca Prince, University of Illinois (Gies)

Rebecca Prince

University of Illinois, Gies College of Business

Driven, strategic executive with a global perspective. Thoughtful, balanced professional with meticulous but collaborative approach.”

Age: 42

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I have passports from three different countries.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Law – University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia)

Where are you currently working? Carbonxt, Inc. – Chief Financial Officer

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my early career, I spent a year based in China, working as a risk consultant. I was on secondment with Protiviti, my employer at the time. It was amazing to spend a year working with clients in China and other Asian locations including Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. I was proud to have the opportunity to represent Australia, my home country, and the work practices and techniques I had learned there. It also gave me invaluable insights into doing business internationally and with different cultures. I developed a global outlook and gained international experience. I have been able to apply those lessons frequently throughout my career.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The world-class faculty, distinguished brand, flexibility, and affordability of the program were all attractive features of the program. But even more so, I was inspired by Gies College of Business’ vision to use technology to democratize education.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The global nature of the program has meant that wherever I travel, there resides fellow iMBA students with whom to visit. I travelled to Melbourne, Australia during my degree and was able to meet up with a fellow iMBA student from Chile, who was working in Melbourne at the time.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? Before enrolling in the iMBA, my primary concern about an online program was the physical disconnect from students and faculty. I thought that I would be sacrificing the networking component that is a feature of in-the-classroom based MBAs. On the contrary, through this program I have built a global network of friends and colleagues, some of which I am sure will be life-long. The iMBA program does an excellent job of facilitating the networking experience for its online students.  

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? As an undergraduate student in the 1990s, it wasn’t commonplace for students to own a computer. If we did, it was a desktop. Now, we are completely reliant on technology to interface with our university and classmates, and we can do it anywhere at anytime. The online experience has allowed me to become more immersed in the learning experience because I can learn at my own pace and on my own schedule. However, I can say I got more exercise in my undergraduate days, walking from classroom to classroom!

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Stay organized and keep up with coursework on a daily basis if possible – an online degree requires discipline, especially if you are doing it while working full-time and alongside life’s other goals. Also, take advantage of every opportunity to interact with your peers beyond classwork.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The iMBA at the University of Illinois has excelled in leveraging technology to augment the online format, such that the experience was enhanced over the in-the-classroom format. With technology continuing to evolve at a fast pace, I would encourage online programs to persistently incorporate new innovations into their formats so they stay relevant and competitive. For example, augmented reality could heighten the online MBA even further.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Participating in an online education has pushed me to use online collaboration tools that I would not have otherwise used. I have been able to bring some of these tools into the workplace to facilitate online collaboration in that setting. I think that building these skills is essential for positioning a company and its people for the future. I have also been able to draw on the new networks I have formed to help solve problems that arise from time-to-time.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Without doubt I would do it all again. There are too many benefits to mention. This was my “mid-life” degree which sets the baseline for the next 10-15 years of my career.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My personal ambition is to contribute through corporate leadership in industries that are pushing technological boundaries, to have a positive impact on the world around me.


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