2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Jaime Xinos, University of Illinois (Gies)

Jaime Xinos

University of Illinois, Gies College of Business

Passionate difference-maker, dynamic leader, lifelong learner. Devoted daughter, wife, and dog mom.”

Age: 43

Hometown: Originally from Spring Bay, IL – home is now Vancouver, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I recently became a Canadian citizen.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, BA Liberal Arts and Sciences, Speech Communications

Where are you currently working? Have you changed jobs while you were in the program? Achieve Life Sciences, Inc., Executive Vice President, Commercial. I was appointed to my current role while enrolled in the iMBA program. Previously, I was working as a biotech consultant.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Over the course of my career, I have been directly involved in the development and commercialization efforts for six cancer therapies. While some of these products did not advance to market, knowing I have committed my career to improving or extending the lives of millions of cancer sufferers is my greatest achievement.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Going back to school to earn my MBA was something that I had considered for many years. However, I was not willing to put my career on hold to return full-time, and executive weekend programs were not feasible with my frequent business travel. When I discovered that Gies was offering a fully online, flexible, and incredibly affordable program it was an easy decision. I completed my undergraduate degree at UIUC, so I knew first-hand of the University’s excellent reputation and the quality of the education I would receive.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? It was the ability to immediately apply course learnings to real-world business challenges that I was facing in my current role. I was introduced to new technologies, ideas, and ways of thinking that helped to identify solutions and make an immediate impact on my organization.

I think Gies is shifting the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” to “Who do want to be and why?”. As we enter into and navigate our careers, we need to consider how we will shape and lead organizations, and what impact our decisions will have on our communities and society. Gies reinforces the importance of ethical conduct and connecting to a larger purpose after we leave the classroom.

I am fortunate that my career in the pharmaceutical industry for over twenty years has defined my purpose of helping to advance treatments that allow people to live longer and better lives. We make decisions in the best interests of patients, which in turn serves all stakeholders of the organization. That is Business on Purpose.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The connections. It was not in terms of networking, but instead truly feeling connected to the University, the faculty, and my fellow classmates. We are all experiencing this yearning for connection now in the era of a pandemic as we are required to use virtual channels to stay connected to our family, friends, and colleagues. I think it is much easier to do when the bonds have already been established. However, in the case of online learning through Gies, these relationships and connections that are formed are done so completely virtually, yet they are very strong. You come to know your professors and classmates and genuinely feel their passion and enthusiasm for your learning and success. I would have never expected this from an online learning environment.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The quality of the education, performance expectations, and course workload is comparable. The key difference is the flexibility the online environment affords. I didn’t have to stop everything and travel to campus to be physically present for a lecture or exam; instead, I could work it into my schedule. Since I completed my undergraduate degree over twenty years ago, it’s not really fair to compare the use of technology. Obviously, that is much different now.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I think one of the biggest challenges for both the University and for students in an online program is how to optimize the global and cultural diversity of the student population while managing logistics. Peer groups in courses are often assigned based on availability for team meetings, and by default time zones are considered. While it makes coordination logistically easier, we lose the opportunity to work closely with individuals from different countries and cultures. I would encourage programs to find solutions that allow for more geographically diverse teams to be formed.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The iMBA experience at Gies has helped me to be better prepared for functioning in a virtual environment, which is even more critical now in light of the ongoing pandemic. Shortly after beginning the program in 2017 and being introduced to Zoom, I brought the platform to our organization. We are now able to maintain business continuity, in large part due to our previously established norms for virtual connectivity.

Flexibility is a key tenet of the iMBA program; it allows students to chart their own journeys and complete the work (within deadlines, of course) when it fits into their lives. Without this flexibility, I would not have made it through or even started, the program.

The global community of highly accomplished and successful students has broadened my professional network far beyond my field of healthcare.

The digital marketing specialization that I completed in the iMBA has been particularly relevant in my current role. Digital healthcare is an emerging trend that we have seen accelerate rapidly in recent months. As a result of my coursework and exposure to emerging trends and analytical tools, I am better prepared to lead my organization through this disruptive time.

I feel my ability to contribute to my organization on a broader scale has increased, along with my confidence. While we all have subject-matter expertise, being able to appreciate the nuances and complexity of all areas of business is required for truly skilled leaders and excellence. I believe that I now can add more value when contributing to critical decisions that shape the future of our business.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I hope to eventually launch and become the CEO of a biotech or digital health firm.

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

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