“Family First. Travel Enthusiast. Marathon Runner. Lifelong Learner. Goal Seeker. Dog Lover. Child of God.”
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Fun fact about yourself: While at Virginia Tech as an undergrad, I refereed college basketball.
Undergraduate School and Degree: Industrial and Systems Engineering – Virginia Tech
Where are you currently working?
Senior Engineer – Altria (departing)
Manager: Data Strategy – Capital One (incoming)
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at Altria, I had the opportunity to work on a reduced harm product development project with the intent to provide smokers with a less harmful alternative. I felt this work had a positive social impact, technical challenges, and provided me an opportunity to work alongside incredibly talented and intelligent team members both locally and around the world. I applied my engineering background to concepts like battery technology, heat transfer, and aerosol engineering while also utilizing new skillsets learned at Tepper to quantify potential project value as we requested continued funding for development.
Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The Tepper MBA places a high degree of emphasis on quantitative skills and analysis, an area of study that was of high interest to me. The school also diligently works to make their online program identical to their in-person traditional MBA program. The online cohort took the same classes from the same teachers. Our lectures required virtual attendance in real-time. We even had equal access to student clubs and recruiting opportunities. I knew that I didn’t want to leave my full-time job and I was aware that I would likely relocate from Nashville, TN to Richmond, VA one year after I started my MBA. Tepper was the perfect choice to give me a world-class education, develop my skill set, and provide flexibility.
What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I really enjoyed the flexibility of the program. I spent one year of the program in manufacturing working across different shifts and was always able to attend class and continue with my degree. I traveled extensively in my last two years of the program but could just as easily participate in lectures and assignments from a hotel room as I could at home.
What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was afraid that by completing my degree online, I would sacrifice the opportunity to build a network while completing my degree. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Tepper combines online learning with in-person access weekends six times per year. I began every class getting to know my classmates and professors in person. Over the course of three years, I built a network that is geographically diverse and spans many different industries. In addition, I formed what are certainly life-long friendships. I think the size of our cohort in combination with 16 access weekends helped us build as strong or stronger relationships than are possible in a traditional on-campus environment.
How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? It was very similar as we attended all our classes live. In my opinion, the level of student participation was even higher than in the classroom while in undergrad. Professors also kept us on our toes through participation requirements and cold-calling. Everything was done in a way that maximized collaboration and diverse contributions to discussions.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? I appreciate the flexibility but put in the work. This is very much a degree where you get out of the process of what you put in. I was amazed by the number of classes which I found interesting as well as applicable to either my current job or future aspirations. It is possible to get through many of these programs doing less than the suggested workload. However, if you absorb everything you can from carefully selected readings and take full advantage of the time available with brilliant professors, the impact this degree can have on your future career can be much higher than a “check the box” diploma.
What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would change the perception of an online degree. I think those who directly interacted with students of the Tepper Part-Time Online Hybrid MBA saw the learning that was taking place. However, I felt the need to defend the credibility of my degree to many. Instead, I think it is important that an MBA is judged on the quality of the institution and its faculty rather than the delivery mechanism.
How has your online education helped you in your current job? While in the program I was coordinating an engineering effort between a group of local engineers in Richmond and a team of consultants in the UK. Through group project work at Tepper, I learned how to manage projects where most communication occurred online. I am also preparing to join Capital One while they work from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I think joining a new team and beginning work in a completely new industry in that environment would be much more intimidating if I hadn’t just completed an education conducted primarily via video chat and online collaboration tools.
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I love to learn and intend to continue pursuing opportunities where I feel challenged to learn and grow professionally. I am very excited to join Capital One in a data strategy role where I will be exposed to a new industry and can focus on honing analytics and data science skills learned at Tepper. I believe this role will position me to incrementally increase my level or responsibility for Capital One card products and hope to eventually lead enterprise initiatives designed to improve customer experience in the personal lending space.