2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Kit Spielberger, Indiana University (Kelley)

Kit Spielberger

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Both poet and quant, I love bridging gaps between disciplines and helping others navigate complexity.”

Age: 38

Hometown: I grew up in Chicago and currently live in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Fun fact about yourself: I love learning new languages: it’s so rewarding and humbling! I have varying degrees of fluency in German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Greek (classical and modern), French, Portuguese, Cherokee, Tlingit and Norwegian.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Pomona College (Claremont, California), B.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Where are you currently working? Thomson Reuters, Senior Editor for FindLaw.com and Abogado.com

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My first formal leadership role was as the managing editor of a regional weekly newspaper in Alaska. While the paper won awards and participated in the AP Exchange for the first time under my leadership, I was most proud of the comments we received from readers about the improvement in quality. One sticks with me after more than a decade: “We used to use the paper for fire starter. Now we read the articles first!”

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I wasn’t considering applying to online programs before the pandemic, but as soon as work and life moved online, I started looking at the best online MBA programs in the country, which quickly led me to Kelley. I chose the program not just for the caliber of the faculty and academic experience, but also for the caliber and diversity of my fellow students. I have never once doubted my choice.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part has been the opportunity to work with and learn from a diverse group of smart, motivated classmates who work in vastly different industries and roles across the country and globe. They have helped me see how course material can be applied in different areas and have given me valuable perspectives on my own leadership challenges.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I have been incredibly impressed by the power of the experiential learning components of the online learning environment. One of my favorite experiences at Kelley so far was a virtual start-up weekend called “Idea Blitz,” in which we worked in teams to develop a product from initial idea to crowdfunding pitch within 48 hours. I came into the weekend unsure whether this was something I would like, then ended up garnering a lot of interest from my initial idea, leading a team, and going to the finals. The experience changed how I think about innovation, entrepreneurship, and my own strengths – all in a single weekend, and all online!

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Obviously, there are many differences between attending a residential liberal arts college as an undergrad and attending an online MBA program as a working professional. However, I do see some similarities, including that a lot of learning happens outside of the classroom such as conversations with classmates and that the intensity of the experience can help you forge life-long friendships. In the context of the classroom itself, I think online classrooms can be just as conducive to stimulating discussion as in-person classrooms under the guidance of an experienced facilitator.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? A good online MBA program can be just as demanding – and just as life-changing – as an in-person program. Even with the flexibility of an online program, you should still go in expecting an intense experience, and push yourself to make the most of it. Build relationships with your cohort, reach out to faculty outside of class, participate in conferences and other extracurricular events, and try things outside of your comfort zone: you will get out of the experience what you put into it.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Online education has come a long way, and it’s hard to think of something I would change about an online MBA program like Kelley Direct, which has been honing its program for decades. What I do hope will continue to change is the perception that online programs are somehow lesser than their in-person counterparts. If anything, as more workplaces become fully remote or hybrid remote/in-person, online MBA programs offer incredible preparation for leading and working in remote teams.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? From my very first week in the program, Kelley has given me skills and tools that I could apply directly to my work. Some coursework – organizational leadership and marketing, for example – is directly applicable to my role, and some coursework, such as finance, has given me greater appreciation and understanding of other functions in my organization. My current role involves quite a bit of team-building and leadership, as well as working on cross-functional teams, and I’ve had the opportunity to develop these skills in almost every class in the program, regardless of subject. Outside of the core curriculum, each student at Kelley has access to a dedicated career coach and career development resources, which have helped me think deeply about how my current job connects to my long-term career aspirations.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: The time varies depending on the week, but I spend close to 20 hours on the program most weeks, including coursework, networking, career development, and extracurricular activities.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have no doubt that my current field will change dramatically in the coming years, as artificial intelligence continues to create opportunities and challenges in the worlds of digital content, communications, and information. At the end of my career, I hope to be able to say that I successfully led teams and organizations through complexity and change, while making a positive impact in the lives of people I led and in communities we’ve served.


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