2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Mariama Trotman, University of Illinois (Gies)

Mariama Trotman

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“Proud Barbadian! With God’s help, I’m determined to succeed, while helping others to do the same.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Barbados

Fun fact about yourself: I LOVE French Vanilla Caramel ice-cream; give me a couple of scoops on a waffle cone and I’m pretty much your friend for life.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc Hotel and Tourism Management, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill

Where are you currently working? Caribbean Tourism Organization

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It has been representing my country on global platforms on issues of youth, climate change, and sustainable development.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? When I was seriously looking to pursue an MBA, my son was only one year-old and (of course) I couldn’t leave him to do a residential program. I therefore needed the flexibility of an online program, so that I could still be around him, and the Gies iMBA offered that. Additionally, a few other elements of the iMBA’s value proposition appealed to me including: (1) Its VERY reasonable price point, which meant that the iMBA would be affordable and therefore I wouldn’t be plunging my family into massive student loan debt for several years; (2) Its positive reputation – the iMBA is from a well-established and accredited educational institution, and I knew the degree would be respected by my current and future employers; and (3) Its curriculum – a very comprehensive set of courses and relevant specializations which would provide the key skills I was seeking to obtain.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The immersion experience in Germany, where I was able to meet and interact with other iMBA students from all over the world.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I never felt that I was missing out on an in-person experience. I attribute this in part to the fact that most classes were highly interactive, even more so than some in-person classes that I have experienced.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Some level of support was always accessible at every point throughout my academic experience; both teachers and support staff were always willing to assist whenever I encountered any challenges.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There is a reason that formal support systems exist; ensure that you know what they are and use them as much as you need to do.

Also, Bajans (Barbadians) have a saying: “Today fuh you, Tomorrow fuh me.” This simply means, help others (in this case fellow classmates) when you have a chance, because at some point you may need their help as well.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would include an optional internship component. COVID-19 has taught us that most things can successfully be done online so internships can also successfully be executed virtually. Like any other internship, the business would benefit from the additional resource, it would allow students to apply the skills learned through the MBA in a real-world setting, and potentially open job opportunities for iMBA students.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I am more confident and capable of analyzing and identifying solutions when I encounter issues at work and others are more confident in my abilities.

Number of hours per week spent on online MBA: 30-40 hours

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Tourism consulting – specifically tourism marketing communications.


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