2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Ada Koo, University of Wisconsin Consortium

Ada Koo

University of Wisconsin’s Online MBA Consortium

“I am a determined and committed person with great strength to strive and achieve goals.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Quincy, MA

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived and worked in 4 different countries and my accent now is an interesting mixture of American, British, and Australian with a pinch of Hong Kong “Chinglish.”

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Boston University – Bachelor of Science, Biomedical Laboratory and Clinical Sciences

Harvard University Extension School – Master of Liberal Arts, Biotechnology

University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium – Master of Business Administration

Where are you currently working? I am currently a full-time research graduate student (Ph.D.) at the University of Melbourne. I also own and run my business (Tutoring by Ada) in Melbourne metropolitan areas.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have been a research scientist for 20 years and had little business understanding and skill prior to the MBA program. I chose to earn an MBA to build a strong foundation of business knowledge as I intend to pivot my career into research commercialization. In the process, as I gained business acumen through my MBA courses, it gave me the confidence to start my own business.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I had four criteria when I was selecting an MBA program: AACSB accreditation, good ranking, 100% online, and affordability. I have moved around the world for various positions; hence, I wanted an internationally-recognized degree with an AACSB accreditation. Regardless of where I may land for my next position, my MBA degree that has a good ranking will be recognized and valued by employers worldwide. I was also looking for a program that is fully online since I travel frequently. I was living in Hong Kong at the time when I decided to pursue an MBA degree. About a year into the MBA program, I moved to Australia. During my MBA journey, I have accessed a number of my MBA courses in at least 10 different countries.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I met many motivated and driven students who came from a variety of backgrounds. Our common interest in excelling kept us engaged in group projects and discussions. Since most of my classmates have years of professional experience, the knowledge and ideas that everyone shared are invaluable.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I personally love online learning. I prefer to take the time to read and think through the learning materials. This allows me to fully digest the information so that I can better absorb the resources and provide more in-depth analyses. I had a chance to take one online course when I was in undergraduate study and a few more when I did my first master’s degree. I knew from those experiences that I prefer the online format over the in-the-classroom experience. In-the-classroom learning did not foster as well of a setting for me to fully emerge in the learning atmosphere which hampered my full potential to contribute.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? You need to be self-motivated and have good time management. Since you do not get to work with your teammates in-person, you ought to be more proactive in communicating with others.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Networking. I believe it would be beneficial if there is a platform for current students and graduates to connect. I have made some fantastic connections with some of my classmates and professors, but I would love to expand my network further with others whom I did not cross path with throughout the program.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I most likely would not have started my own business if it wasn’t for the MBA program. Even though I have a successful and fulfilling career as a research scientist, the MBA program has broadened my professional view and gave me the confidence to venture into something new and different. I learned how to identify opportunities and act on them when appropriate. The skills that I will continue to acquire in managing my business will better prepare and equip me for my future endeavors.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I will continue to follow my passion and maintain my parallel careers in teaching and research. For my new start-up tutoring business, I will use the knowledge I attained in the MBA program to anchor the foundation and to grow my business with innovative ideas. Our mission is to inspire students beyond academic achievements and to leave positive impacts on students’ lives even after their school years. With the same level of love and passion, I aim to combine my science background with valuable business experience and connections to pursue a role in research commercialization. That way, I will be in the position to support researchers to identify unmet medical needs and to transform research ideas and discoveries into treatments and diagnostics to ameliorate human health.

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