2020 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Robert Bussey, Penn State (Smeal)

Robert Bussey

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

“Robert is a highly motivated and dedicated husband, father, Marine, student, and service-oriented professional.”

Age: 46

Hometown: Southborough, MA

Fun fact about yourself: While in the Marines and stationed in Hawaii, I was a part of the 1st Americans to ever train with the Russians on American soil [Hawaii 1996].

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Security & Risk Analysis from The Pennsylvania State University & a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from The Pennsylvania State University

Where are you currently working? The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Regional Cybersecurity Analyst

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of having served my country while in the United States Marine Corps. My family has a history of serving from the Revolutionary War all the way up to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This mentality of service to others that was developed while in the Corps has served me well throughout my career. I have used the service to others’ ethos in my community by serving on Boards, Committees, the Rotary, and also as a Blue & Gold Officer.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Penn State because I was a good fit for the program. I had done my undergrad here and I was familiar with the things that made me want to come here in the first place. Mainly, they have a spirit of working collaboratively to accomplish a mission. The ‘We Are’ motto is similar to the Marine’s ‘Esprit de Corps.’ This aligned with my experience in the Marine Corps, where we looked out for each other. Furthermore, Penn State is set up in such a way that it is ideal for the way I learn. Their online information systems have been intuitive, easy to use, and always available. This has allowed for a seamless online experience that allowed me to focus on the work and not be distracted with technical or administrative issues.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I enjoy so many things about being an online MBA student. I enjoy the flexibility to do the work whenever I want. Furthermore, I appreciate that every class has a team component built into them. This flexibility, paired with the teamwork means that we often do our work together at all hours of the day and night. That’s okay because we choose to do that, and with the flexibility, we can adjust to meet the family, work, and personal duties that we all have.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I began my online adventure in 2016 as an undergrad here at Penn State. I have been to a traditional on-campus classroom environment four times before at three different colleges. It never worked out for me. Thus, I was wondering if I would have the same challenges I had online as I did in the traditional setting. On the contrary, I thrived right from the get-go. Since 2016, I have taken 46 classes online, and I have excelled where I had failed in the past.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? For me, the classroom environment was challenging for me – especially once I started getting more experience in the workforce and I had more responsibilities. It became difficult to juggle the demands of work, family, and going to and from school. Now, I get the bulk of my work done first thing in the morning and late at night. I am able to work to my strengths and when I am most capable versus having to go at set times when I am not at my best. In this way, I can give my best when I am at my best.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would enjoy going on campus and seeing my cohort more often. We did get together for the first week. Since then, I have come across a few other members, and some of us still keep in touch virtually. Those times that I did come across some of my classmates is that we were able to forge stronger bonds and support each other in whatever we were going through at the moment. A big part of any MBA program is the forging of strong relationships that will sustain us throughout our careers. Making those relationships stronger would help us to build that network that would be there for us under any circumstances we might face throughout our careers.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My concentration is Corporate Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and I like to use the tools and techniques I learned here in all facets of my work and home life. I am better able to lead with confidence, provide strategy, and direction in a manner that is understood by decision-makers. More than that, it has helped me to facilitate a mutual learning approach that builds and sustains high functioning virtual teams.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have a few:

1.) Complete a Ph.D.

2.) Write a book

3.) Be an online teacher.

#1: This stems from something my father had said to me before. He said that his only regret in life was not getting a Ph.D. Not doing this limited his options in life. While he was very successful, I could feel that he wanted to do so much more, but he was limited because of education. Thus, education is critical.

#2: Everyone has a book within them. I have a few. One involves natural security and how biological systems use the information to address security concerns in an unpredictable world.

#3: This one stems from my experience at Penn State, both as an undergraduate and graduate student. I first learned of schools looking into an online format when I was at a college back in 1998. I was excited at the time because, even then, I knew that the traditional style of learning was not going to work for me. Now, over 20 years later, I have seen how far we have come in educating people like me that are capable, but struggle in traditional settings. I want to be able to help out others that were in similar circumstances as myself.

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

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