2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Allie Pearson, Indiana University (Kelley)

Allie Pearson

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Friendliest of friends of God has 25 hours each day, wife and Great Dane mom.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Fun fact about yourself: My husband, Patrick, and I volunteer with our Great Dane, Knox, as a Canine Volunteer Team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. We get the privilege of visiting extraordinary patients, families, and staff members – spending time at CCH is one of our favorite activities!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) – Graduated May 2015 Bachelor of Science in Business, Marketing

Bachelor of Science in Business, Interdisciplinary Business Management (Entrepreneurship)

Bachelor of Arts, Interactive Media Studies

Where are you currently working? Procter & Gamble, Assistant Brand Manager, North American Hair Care – Herbal Essences

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’ve been afforded many valuable opportunities during my career at Procter & Gamble. One of the achievements I am most proud of is the time I spent working on the Luvs business in North America Baby Care. During that season, we executed a product intervention plan in record timing to deliver more value to the consumer, developed and optimized the “First Kid, Second Kid” campaign that was celebrated across the company, strengthened the first moment of truth via packaging updates, and built a strong innovation pipeline. I was lucky to get to work with my brand manager, Chad Brizendine (another proud Kelley MBA alumni), and my assistant brand manager, Mansi Shah. We had a great deal of autonomy over the business strategy and a team culture that many dream of internally and with our agency partners. It is inspiring how much can be accomplished with the right team and trust from leadership. This role was one of the contributors to earning a CEO Award during my second year at the company.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? When I left Miami University, I knew that I would eventually want to get an MBA. However, after a quick start at P&G, I did not want to leave a career that was providing exceptional mentorship and unparalleled brand-building opportunities. I wasn’t willing to compromise going to a top-ranked business school, so I began looking to see if those programs had online options and Kelley quickly rose to the top. I heard countless testimonies about the best-in-class online MBA structure, passionate professors, and impressive students. The admissions office was incredibly helpful in walking me through the process. Before I knew it, I was a Hoosier!

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program?  My favorite part about being in an online MBA program is a tie between my talented classmates and my brilliant professors. After accepting my offer of admission to the Kelley online program, I was still nervous that I wasn’t going to get to know my professors or make any friends since we all would not be together in person. That was a significant concern of mine because half the value of an MBA lies in the relationships you build. I was quickly and delightfully surprised at how misplaced my nervousness was. I was able to meet my professors and fellow students in person at the beginning and middle of the program via our on-campus Kelley Connect Week and it was a blast. That was where I built the strong relationships that carried over into our classroom zoom sessions, professor office hours, team meetings, and so on. The professors love teaching online students because we come with real-world knowledge from our careers that we can directly apply to class content and I also became such close friends with my classmates that some of them even came to my wedding! My fellow Kelleys are the ones who made my online MBA experience exceptional.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I loved every minute of both my in-the-classroom undergraduate experience at Miami University and my online MBA experience at Indiana University. Being on campus for my undergraduate degrees afforded me the opportunity to fully engage in all Miami had to offer – classes, student organizations, office hours, competitions, sports, mentoring, internships, study abroad programs, business school events, and so on. School was my only priority, so I was able to begin thinking about the business professional I wanted to be by fully leaning into all of those outlets. With my online MBA experience, I felt like I got to have my cake and eat it too – I was able to continue growing in my career at P&G while also getting a top tier education. It was helpful to have a career during my online MBA experience because I was able to directly apply class concepts to my work plan, as opposed to hearing them again predominately outside of the business world as I did during my undergraduate career. Similar to my in-person undergraduate experience, the online program was highly relational, but it also provided far more flexibility than a weekend or nighttime MBA program would have. Both formats, in-person and online, were perfect for the stage of life I was in during each one.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?  My best piece of advice to an applicant who wants to thrive in an online MBA program is to engage with your classmates and find friends quickly for two reasons. The first reason is because in an online program, your classmates live all around the world and participate in a variety of industries. Their anecdotes, perspective, and knowledge are incredibly helpful to get a broader view of the business world and a taste of what it’s like to work on projects far different than the ones on your own work plan.

The second reason is that an online MBA is difficult – not just because of the coursework rigor, but also because you’re choosing to balance it with your career, family, hobbies, etc. It is invaluable to have people in your corner to help you through it. Friends help with confusing assignments, recruit you for team projects, and cheer you on when you feel like you’re under a pile of work. It also works vice versa-: you’re able to help and cheer for your new friends too. When we all work together, the workload becomes far more manageable. We learn more by teaching each other and asking each other questions, and we all deliver higher quality work. For example, in my operations course, we had to manage a factory simulation that was running 24 hours each day for a whole week. Let’s just say if my classmates hadn’t patiently provided the coaching that they did, my factory would have quickly been out of business.

What would you change about an online MBA Program?  Fortunately, some of the closest friends that I’ve made in this program live within a reasonable distance of each other and Bloomington (Indianapolis, Nashville, Louisville, Cincinnati). One weekend, we all decided to meet each other in Bloomington to go to an IU football game so we could “feel like real students” again. It was a lot of fun, but it also would have been nice to be able to connect with some of the in-resident MBA students while we were there. I think Kelley is making strides in this, but by connecting the in-resident students to the online students yet another highway is built for knowledge and experience to travel. The connection enables in-resident students to have access to employees that work at companies that they may have interest in after their MBA and it gives the online students a more tangible invitation to the culture at Indiana University and within the Kelley School of Business. I would have gladly made more trips to Bloomington to engage in person with students, professors, and programs!

How has your online education helped you in your current job? One of my favorite courses at Kelley was Developing Strategic Capabilities, which was led by Will Geoghegan. In that class, Will taught us a variety of tools we can use to conduct internal and external analyses that enable business strategy development. At the beginning of the quarter, we selected a focal company and applied all of the tools to that company’s industry and business model. At the end of the quarter, we took what we learned and used that content to support three strategic recommendations for the business. I chose the brand that I work on at Procter & Gamble, Herbal Essences, to be my focal company – meaning that when the course concluded I had a set of recommendations that I was immediately able to apply to my business. It doesn’t get much more helpful than that. With many of the courses at Kelley I was able to take what I was learning in the program and apply it immediately to my career.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? One of my favorite professors at Miami University, Brett Smith, once told me that we can make long-term plans but that we never know what could change tomorrow. Therefore, it’s important to work towards goals … but with a degree of flexibility. With that being said, my more abstract long-term professional goals are to leave a legacy at Procter & Gamble, to be known as a true champion and advocate of others, and to be obedient in pursuing the work that God points me towards regardless of my circumstances.

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

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