2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Scott Forsgren, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Scott Forsgren

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Adaptable, critical thinker, competitive, with a desire to lead and see my teams do well.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Fun fact about yourself:

  1. I’m the proud son of a NASA engineer, so my initials rode around in space when they were carved into a project that went up on the space shuttle.
  2. I do voiceovers for many of the videos produced as part of my client engagement and have been dubbed by colleagues as the “Voice of the Military Health System” as a result.

Undergraduate School and Degree: James Madison University, Business Management

Where are you currently working? Currently, I am a Senior Consultant at Deloitte, living in Washington, D.C.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Since I began in consulting, I’ve had the privilege of serving in organizationally transformative roles, working side-by-side with high-ranking military officials to solve critical issues in their industries. I’ve also been a part of a marketing team that’s won nearly a dozen industry awards on behalf of our client, produced an award-winning video series that’s been promoted across the Defense Department, and been promoted to a senior consultant role after just one year.

But, what I’m most proud of is the volunteer work I’ve helped lead for our veterans-support programs at Deloitte, helping transitioning veterans find employment via recurring employment boot camps (~60% find work within 90 days), and leading teams that help disabled veterans learn adaptive sports. It often feels more like play than work, but knowing the amount of preparation that goes into pulling off these events, done entirely to the benefit of our nation’s heroes – nothing compares to that sense of achievement. Check out #DeloitteSupports on social media if you want to see our team in action.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Put simply, I wanted to challenge myself and had an immediate opportunity to go work for Deloitte, so I didn’t want to put that off any longer. I knew that was where I wanted to be, I knew I needed an MBA to open career doors down the line, and I wanted to see if I could do both at the same time.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? First, it was the flexibility to be able to pursue an advanced degree from a top 20 institution while working full-time, learning the same curriculum as the in-person program was vital. I use “in-person” instead of “full-time” purposely, as, like it or not, MBA@UNC is a full-time gig.

Secondly, seeing those teammates and faculty I’d worked closely with at the end of each quarter live and in-person at immersions, local happy hours, events, etc. is always a joy. Given how the world has shifted to virtual classes, meetings, and even virtual happy hours, we were certainly ahead of the game there!

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I expected to miss out on some of the networking that naturally comes from sitting next to your teammates, and I was willing to sacrifice that because I knew I’d be doing plenty of it in my day job. However, it became immediately clear that networking occurs just as easily over Zoom conferencing, social media, email, phone/text chains, etc. as it does in-person – and there’s an additional depth/breadth of experiences to gain from working and connecting with experienced professionals from (quite literally) across the world. Additionally, within that network, there’s a strong sense of passion and commitment to help fellow Tar Heels regardless of how you studied. Students and alumni alike are frequently setting up in-person events, and there are endless opportunities to feel a part of a clan, if that’s what you choose, especially in major markets like D.C. or New York.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I loved my time as an undergrad at JMU – I made many life-long connections and friendships, and I cherish my memory as a JMU Duke.

The environment at MBA@UNC differed in that students came in, Day 1, with significant learned experiences and perspectives from living or working around the world. I think back to a course I took in healthcare economics – where I had something like 10 surgeons in the classroom of various specialties – or another course where we were doing a case study on a developing African nation’s economy and one of the students just happened to be living in the country we were discussing. Getting that perspective from fellow students is invaluable when you factor in everything that makes for high-quality education.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? I certainly wouldn’t claim that virtual or hybrid programs are the best option for everyone. I’d say it worked perfectly for me because I already had a full-time job lined up with a competitive firm, and I wanted a prestigious MBA to round out my background. So, take the time to consider what is best for you and don’t discredit executive, hybrid or online programs simply because you won’t be “on-campus.” All programs have their pros and cons, so it’s truly about what works best for your situation. My last bit of advice would be to power through the program as best you can in two years or less, and don’t take semesters off – it can be tempting, especially if you’re raising a family and working full time, but you’ll thank yourself at the finish line.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? UNC requires at least two immersive experiences in which you travel with your cohort to Chapel Hill, or study for a weekend in a city either domestic or abroad. I would encourage all programs to commit to doing something similar and even require more weekend engagements like that. They’ll truly help you gain a fully immersive experience with your MBA while gaining a global perspective about how businesses function in relation to their political, economic, social, and technological environments.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? It absolutely helped me in the interview process, as I leveraged much of what we were learning in marketing and analytics during the case study portion of my interview with Deloitte. It likely also helped qualify me and served as a differentiator when stacked against other candidates. Lastly, and most importantly, it’s fundamentally changed the way I process information, as I’ve found myself thinking more analytically – and in terms of micro-and macroeconomic structures in my own decision-making.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To feel challenged every day, in a position of leadership where I can shape decision-making at the upper-most levels of my organization while helping my teammates learn and grow along the way.

Don’t Miss: The Entire Honor Roll of the Best & Brightest Online MBA Grads of 2020

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