2019 Best Online MBAs: Remi Popoola, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Remi Popoola

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Curious and passionate lifelong learner in constant pursuit of growth.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria

Fun fact about yourself: I got married on the same day I was supposed to start the Tepper MBA program; while my classmates were at basecamp orientation doing trust falls and bonding with each other, I was getting hitched in South Jersey.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, B.Sc. Computer Science

Where are you currently working? ION Group, Senior Business Consultant. Will start as a Partner Technology Strategist at Microsoft in July.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Not sure I have a professional achievement I’m most proud of yet. However, one of the enjoyable moments in my professional career was the outcome of a watercooler conversation I had with an executive at my workplace about a corporate strategy class I was taking in the Tepper Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA program. At the time, the company was undergoing rapid growth through several acquisitions. The CEO, along with other company executives, started an internal project to assess the right go-to-market strategy for the relaunch of the multiple brands and products within our treasury corporate division. I was asked to be a part of the project and was able to leverage some of the information I learned in the Corporate Strategy class about value creation, capture and delivery to develop a multi-branding strategy framework. This information is still used by several divisions within the company almost two years after the project began. This experience particularly stands out to me because it gave me the opportunity to be in the room with and learn from seasoned leaders. At the same time, I was able to apply in real-time what I was learning in class.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program?

Tepper was actually the only program I applied to because it was the only option that ticked all the boxes of what I sought in an MBA program. The primary reason I chose the Tepper Hybrid Program, besides the flexibility the format provides, was that I could expect the same level of rigor and quality as any reputable MBA program. That’s because the same professors and curriculum used for the Full-Time Tepper program were used for the hybrid program, hence it wasn’t a watered-down version of the Full-Time program.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The best part for me was the Access Weekends. Access Weekends occur every 8 weeks and it’s the time we all get to meet up in-person for 3/4-day weekends in Pittsburgh, D.C., Philadelphia or Silicon Valley to kick off the next semester and participate in a host of activities. I looked forward to Access Weekends because it provided the opportunity to catch up with each other on life happenings, such as engagements, promotions, new jobs, births, breakups, etc., and we also got to network with other cohorts enrolled in the Online Hybrid, Full-Time and Part-Time Flex program, as well as with alumni.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? One obvious point of difference between my undergrad in-classroom experience and online experience is the amount of flexibility that the Online Hybrid program provides, especially the ability to attend class from any location. Another point of difference is the high quality of class discussions, as the live class sessions were used for primarily for discussions and presentations, and not necessarily for learning new material; the actual course materials are taught asynchronously through video recordings and readings.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Like almost every endeavor in life, the outcome is largely determined by your attitude and the level of effort you invest. So, it’s really up to you take advantage of every tool and resource provided – and even make requests if those resources are not readily available to you. I also recommend developing your time management and prioritization skills and surrounding yourself with a great support system who understands your “why.” They’ll be the ones to encourage you when the going gets tough.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I really would not change much about the program, but this is not to say there’s no room for improvement. An area that could always use some improvement, given the evolving nature of technology, is in the use of technology tools to enable a more seamless online learning experience.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The most tangible way it’s helped me has been the opportunity to implement in real-time what I learned in class, like the example I provided above, and it has also opened doors to new job opportunities. However, I’m surprised by the level of personal growth I’ve experienced in going through this program and I would say this is due in part to the amazing leadership coaches that are such a valuable resource. Even more amazing is the fact that we continue to have the leadership coaches as a resource for pretty much a lifetime.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why?

I would absolutely do it again, just not the “getting married and starting an MBA program at the same time” part. In all seriousness though, this 32-month long rigorous program has been completely worth it because of the growth I’ve experienced professionally and personally, the lifetime friendships and bonds formed, and the pride of being a Tepper/CMU alumna. We just finalized the program and we were all commenting on the fact that we’re not sure what do with ourselves now seeing as this program was such a crucial aspect of our lives for almost three years

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I’m passionate about technology and empowering women, especially younger African women, and I hope to one day be in a position of leadership at a technology firm, where I can leverage the bigger platform to inspire and empower younger women to strive for and achieve more on a larger scale. I also aspire to be an angel investor with a primary focus on women-owned or women-run businesses.



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