2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Jessica Neumann, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Jessica Neumann

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business Online MBA

“Passionate, goal-oriented young professional who aims to grow through opportunity, discomfort, and adventure.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: At the age of 23, I packed two suitcases and moved from Toronto to a tiny mining town in Eastern Arizona (home to the largest open-pit mine in North America) with the thought of staying for a year. Almost seven years later, I’ve put down roots in Arizona with two properties, two dogs and a partner.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. Bachelors of Applied Science, Mining Engineering

Where are you currently working? Freeport McMoRan’s Sierrita Mine, Mill Superintendent

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of being able to spot talent and invest in it. I have been privileged to provide opportunities and feedback to several individuals during my career who have gone on to be excellent leaders. This is what drives me every day; I want to be able to help facilitate growth and build strong future leaders.

Metrics-wise, I am extremely proud of my current team’s performance. We have a well-functioning team with relatively new members who have thrived in a fast-paced environment to set new production and maintenance standards. Over the last nine months, we have been able to achieve a 10% increase in our production capacity on a sustainable basis. This has been largely based on suggestions from our frontline employees. I have seen my team practice servant leadership, gaining the trust of our workforce.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? First, I love the state of Arizona. Where else can you enjoy 80 F+ weather the same day as you ski? Second, I have ties to Phoenix and was excited about the prospect of being able to have a connection to campus. Finally, ASU distinguishes itself through inclusivity. I believe that learning is maximized by engaging diverse perspectives in dialogue. This program facilitated this conversation well.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? ASU kicks off the program with a two-day, in-person session. This allowed my group to bond and learn about one another prior to the rigors of the program kicking in. I appreciate this bond that we fostered and that we were able to support one another to get our entire group through the program.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised that the online program worked for me! I have long held the goal of pursuing an MBA but was skeptical that I would be able to learn in an online environment. Although the first few courses were certainly an adjustment, I found that once I hit my stride I was able to gain a deep understanding of the course content and become an efficient learner. This program was an excellent precursor to the digital transformation that our business community is currently undergoing.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The MBA program was so different from an engineering undergraduate degree that it is hard to compare. I liked that the online environment allowed me to feel highly accountable for my own results. I also liked that I could revisit lectures if I needed to reinforce a concept that didn’t sink in the first time. Although some of the socialization was missed, individual accountability was fantastic for growth.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Understanding why I wanted to participate in the program and what I was trying to get out of it was key to persevering through the program. Don’t let the online format fool you- obtaining an MBA, especially while working full time, is a huge commitment. It is key to understand what your goals are, as there will be times that the load of the program will feel extremely heavy. I found that approaching the program with an openness to learning and a desire to expand my business acumen was key to making it through the challenges and taking the most away from the program.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? One of the struggles with the online format is that you don’t have the same opportunity to expand your network that in-person learning provides. I would like to see more opportunities for networking in the future. For example, I’d like Zoom meetings to get to know classmates outside of coursework could help to facilitate increased comradery within cohorts.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My role has expanded since pursuing an MBA, with my team growing from 26 people to 160. This MBA has helped me to become a stronger leader. I find that I better understand why decisions are made within our company and have a clearer picture of my impact on the bottom line. I now possess the ability to translate this for my team to help expand their understanding.

I also enjoyed the introspective nature of several of the courses. I feel like a key component of being an effective leader is self-awareness. ASU’s MBA allowed me to better understand my personal drivers and values, which in turn has allowed me to be more intentional with my leadership style.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My goal is to continue to be in a position of influence. I want to be an example to women who have an interest in STEM and leadership that there is ample opportunity in industry to expand your career. I aim to be a life-long learner and continue to put myself into positions of discomfort to inspire personal growth.

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

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