2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Corinna Bellizzi, Santa Clara University (Leavey)

Corinna Bellizzi

Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business

“Natural products executive, podcaster and mother of 2 who aspires to live well by doing good.” 

Age: 44

Hometown: Scotts Valley, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I met the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia during a chance encounter. I got them to do me a favor by telling them the story of a friend in need. This bold ask resulted in one impactful hour that I’ll remember fondly and with pride for the rest of my life. I believe that when you act in service of others, people want to help. This story is but one example.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California, Santa Cruz: Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Honors in the major

Where are you currently working?
Care More. Be Better: A Social Impact + Sustainability Podcast —  Show Host and Creator
Vaxa Technologies Ltd. —  Head of US Sales + Marketing, Nutraceuticals (Contract)

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?
As a 25-year-old recent graduate from UCSC who had successfully scaled the international sales of an ingredient supplier, I joined Nordic Naturals as the head of sales and education in June of 2002. It was a risky move, as the company’s annual revenues were less than $1M. Fifteen months later, we displaced Carlson Labs as the #1 omega-3 fish oil. By the time I left nine years later, we had grown to over $100 million in annual revenues and were in 32 markets around the globe. We had become the #1 selling omega-3 in multiple categories and channels with top sellers in children’s, prenatal, women’s, men’s, sports, and general health with a 20 point market share lead over any of our competitors. I was instrumental in building an industry-leading legacy brand that continues to stand the test of time.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I grew up in the bay area, and always looked fondly upon Santa Clara University. My mentor and CEO of Nordic Naturals, Joar Opheim, also received his MBA from Santa Clara. In his words, “With your experience and an MBA from Santa Clara University, you will be unstoppable.” As a mom of two young boys (aged 3 and 6) who works full time, the flexibility of an online program made my choice to “just do it” so much easier.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of the program was collaborating and connecting with multiple cohorts of really smart, motivated, and like-minded students who also want to live well by doing good.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment?  I was surprised at how deep a connection I was able to forge with my cohort of students, mostly via online connections on discussion boards and in zoom meetings. I have gained lifelong friends in this program.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The courses were organized in such a way that advanced your learning in bite-sized chunks in a way that in-person courses simply can’t. This is something that was incredibly helpful when I was learning Accounting, Finance, and Economics. It was easier to digest the material than if I had been in hour-long in-person lectures.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?
Our cohort built-out a slack channel to stay connected. It meant that we were quickly able to connect on course projects, create boards for courses, share ideas, and collaborate (and sometimes commiserate). It was helpful in building our community and maintaining our relationships. From an academic perspective, starting each module early (at the beginning of each week) is particularly important. An MBA program is not something you can start and finish each weekend. Procrastination is not your friend.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I think the future of an online MBA is in providing more opportunities to connect. My most compelling courses usually have some “synchronous” element that includes the professor, be it group office hours or supplementary (though not typically required) lectures.  I found that element universally rewarding and enriching.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I work for myself, operating as a brand development executive and head of sales & marketing on a contract basis. I was able to integrate real business situations into my course work that added immediate measurable value. As an example, I wrote a proposal to acquire Vaxa Technologies in a communications course.  Today, they are my primary client. And my entrepreneurship team chose my podcast show, Care More. Be Better: A Social Impact + Sustainability Podcast, for a group project in which we were tasked with building a plan that would add value and be executed in only one hour. We were successful in expanding the show’s reach through social platforms, including Clubhouse, where I met two social impact experts that I have since interviewed as guests on the show.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: Given a full course load (10-12 units) and a goal of attaining a 4.0 average, I spent roughly 30 hours a week on my courses.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate goal is to live well by doing good while helping others do the same. To further that goal, I intend to either start my own company or join and lead a not-for-profit or cause-oriented company from the chief seat. We need more female CEOs to push for positive change and true gender equality and I hope to serve in that capacity.



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