2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Cari G. Lim, USC (Marshall)

Cari G. Lim

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“Hard-working, passionate, competitive, loyal. I believe in being a problem solver and lifelong learner.”

Age: 40

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun fact about yourself: Playing strategic board games is one of my favorite things to do in my free time. I will happily challenge anyone to a game of Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, or Dominion; and I love the good old fashion game of Clue.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Azusa Pacific University, Bachelors of Arts in Business Administration

Where are you currently working? I chose to return to school to pursue inputs into my professional growth outside of my experience base. My desire was to grow as a leader and ultimately make a career shift. I am so grateful for the support tat USC Marshall provides in helping determine what the next step in my career should be.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have had the privilege of spending my career in marketing and fundraising for non-profit organizations that focus on trying to end suffering, transform people’s lives, and better our communities. I loved serving my clients, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have aligned my passion for helping those in need with a professional career. I am proud to have contributed to such worthy causes.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? After deciding to return to school, I began looking into top-ranked full-time MBA programs. USC Marshall was at the top of my list because of its top-tier ranking, high caliber of professors, and the collaboration and diversity of the Trojan network. Upon learning that I could have access to this with the flexibility of an online program, I knew it was the best fit for me.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of USC Marshall’s online MBA program. It provided the same respected learning experience as their other in-residence programs, but with the flexibility to do school anywhere in the world. I was able to continue my coursework and join class while traveling, working, volunteering, caring for my family, being a foster parent, and even winning my battle against breast cancer. Life definitely changes when working on an MBA, so I really appreciated the benefit of an online program that enabled me to not have to put my life on hold in order to earn a degree.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The benefit of an online learning experience is the incredible diversity of backgrounds, work experience, and even the geographic location of those in the program. I knew I would build relationships and learn from my classmates, but the connectedness, support, and level of expertise I found within my cohort exceeded my expectations. Coming from a working environment that did not foster collaboration or mentorship, stepping into an online program where everyone was committed to investing in the education and growth of their fellow cohort members was inspiring and meaningful. I am grateful for my colleagues and have made some lifelong friendships.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I actually felt that the online experience provided more learning opportunities than a traditional classroom setting. I was able to take the time I would have spent driving to school and use it to connect with my cohort and professors. The various technology platforms allowed me to connect with my colleagues around the world, to collaborate on the asynchronous course work and study together. I also found the synchronous live classroom sessions to provide a more enriched learning environment. You are not only able to participate in lectures and discussions together, but the chat option allowed for additional peer discussions to take place. I learned almost as much from my colleagues as I did from the professors.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? You will get out of the program what you put into it. There is a lot to balance when adding a Master’s degree to your schedule, and an online MBA is no less rigorous than any other. Time management is key to staying on top of all the work – don’t get behind. To get the most out of the program, also be intentional to reach out to those in your cohort, professors, and other academic opportunities your school provides. There are ways to be involved and add to your learning experience virtually.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? USC Marshall’s online MBA program started off with an intensive residential week on campus. Going through this rigorous time together truly bonded us, and set us up for successful collaboration and made staying in touch easier for the remainder of the program. As tough as the residential week was, I am thankful for the time we had together face-to-face. USC Marshall also offered an optional international trip at the beginning of the second year. The experience was unforgettable and provided valuable insights into how organizations operate internationally. I would provide a second opportunity to meet in-person midway through the program. It is tough to take time off work. If it is built into the program with enough time to plan ahead for it, this additional in-person meeting would enhance the experience. I wish more of my cohort could have joined us on an international trip.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? One of the major benefits of USC Marshall’s online program is that the curriculum is designed to be immediately applicable to the workplace. Professors and faculty have even taken time to meet outside of the classroom to work through further adapting the content specifically for my situation and have put me in contact with subject matter experts. I was able to immediately apply my classroom learning in consulting a start-up to improve contract negotiations and productivity. However, the impact of this program extends far beyond my professional experience. It has changed how I see my work, how I view myself personally, and how I collaborate with others. Traveling with a contingent of my cohort throughout China expanded my worldview and provided a global mindset I will take with me throughout my career.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am confident that wherever my career takes me, being able to use my skill set and education to make a difference in the world will be a driving factor. USC Marshall has given so much to me and taught me the importance of giving back.

I desire to take what I have learned at USC Marshall – along with my strategy and marketing experience in creating multichannel targeted campaigns that successfully move the heart of a donor – to synthesize solutions that apply any part of the Corporate sector where I transition. My long-term professional goal is to move into an executive leadership position to drive new opportunities for growth while creating a Corporate culture of authenticity, collaboration, and where people are empowered to give their best.

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

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