2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Hillary Butler, Auburn University (Harbert)

Hilary Butler

Auburn University, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business Online MBA Program

“Lifelong learner with a passion for changing the world and spreading love to all people.”

Age: 32

Hometown: West Lafayette, IN

Fun fact about yourself: I ran the Chicago marathon. It was an amazing feeling when I crossed the finish line.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Purdue University, Selling and Sales Management

Where are you currently working? Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, Senior Director of Major Gifts

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? After working in higher education for many years I made the change to the non-profit sector two years ago. While there were similarities in the fundraising areas, there were also many things I had to learn when I started. I was placed on a newly-formed team and given the opportunity to build the major gifts program in our chapter. I have partnered with our senior leaders and development team to establish best practices and strategies for growth. I am proud of the progress we have been able to make in a short time and the opportunity I have been given to help lead an initiative that will forever change the course of the chapter. I am proud to support a mission that allows kids to experience the transformational power of a wish while simultaneously growing as a person and as a professional.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Auburn University because of its strong academic reputation and its consistent recognition as a top online MBA program. Additionally, the course offerings relative to the cost set Auburn apart from other schools. The opportunity to earn my MBA at this world-class institution was an easy choice.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising thing was establishing such great relationships and friendships. I entered the program assuming it would be difficult to make connections and I am graduating with many close friendships. I look forward to seeing how our MBAs positively impact our careers and watching my classmates grow from their experiences.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The biggest difference was that I worked full time throughout my MBA and in undergraduate my main focus was my schoolwork. I had to hone my time management, communication, and leadership skills in order to maintain a healthy balance and complete my work for both my job and school. It took a significant amount of discipline and motivation.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? There are two pieces of advice I would give to a new applicant. The first would be to make sure you have a network that will support you throughout your journey. There will be sacrifices made along the way and it will be important to have your network’s support through those times. It will also be important to have a network that is willing to get involved with your learning.

The second piece of advice would be to find ways to incorporate your online learning into your everyday life. Seek out opportunities in your workplace to implement your new skills and complement your online learning.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I had a wonderful experience so this question is hard. If I had to pick one thing to change about the online MBA program, I would make the recommendation to pair a few students together at the beginning of their cohort start. There is an opportunity for students to connect on campus for orientation, but for those students who cannot make it there is no connection until group projects start or efforts are directly made to connect. The encouragement of networking via the small groups could be helpful in the transition of starting the program.

How has your online education helped you in your current job?I have been able to directly apply many of the concepts I’ve learned- from data integrity, finance, to management. It has been exciting to find different ways my learnings can fit into my everyday work. Additionally, I have refined my time management, organization, and communication skills. 

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term goal is to become the Executive Director or CEO of a global company whose sole focus is to make the world a better place. I feel fortunate to currently work for such an inspiring organization, Make-A-Wish. I look forward to seeing how I can grow my career within the organization or another company that has a positive social impact.

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

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