2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Christopher Go, University of Illinois (Gies)

Christopher Go

Gies College of Business, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

“I’m results-driven and passionate about empowering people to exceed their potential to achieve team success.”

Age: 58

Hometown: Valencia, California

Fun fact about yourself: I only started running 4 years ago and qualified and ran the Boston Marathon.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Washington University in St. Louis, B.S., Biology/English Literature

Northwestern University, D.D.S.

Where are you currently working? Go Dental, ActivTape (Start-up)

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I don’t like to dwell on my achievements because I always feel like tomorrow will be better than yesterday. However, I think that building a dental practice from the ground up is probably my greatest achievement to date. In the beginning, I had to work hard to integrate myself into the community doing numerous health fairs, school presentations, and build relationships with all the healthcare professionals in my area. It was my goal to establish a practice that was patient-centric. This meant that we would establish a practice that was honest, caring, patient-centric, and would charge fair prices. From humble beginnings, I have grown the practice to over $2 million a year in revenue with plans to open additional locations in the near future. We have been voted “Best Dentist” in the Santa Clarita Valley for the last 4 years by The Signal newspaper and the Elite Magazine.

I’m focusing on making my startup ActivTape successful so I can count it as the proudest achievement of my career.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? In every sense, the Gies iMBA program truly represents an education without boundaries. It was impossible to seriously consider a full-time residential MBA program since I have a dental practice and family obligations to fulfill. Gies was so far ahead of the curve in utilizing technology to deliver a personalized educational experience and offered a great amount of scheduling flexibility. Combined with the fact that the renowned residential Gies faculty were teaching the iMBA courses, it made choosing Gies iMBA an easy choice. In retrospect, Gies iMBA was the best MBA program I could have attended irrespective of cost.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? By far away my favorite part of the Gies iMBA program was the access to the brilliant faculty. Office hours were offered multiple times during the week (including weekends) and members of the faculty would be readily available to answer questions regarding assignments or any other questions students would have related to the class. I took full advantage of office hours, attending even if I didn’t have any questions. Often times, discussions would ensue between professor and students which opened up a whole new perspective for me. I can honestly say that I did not have a single bad professor during my time at Gies.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising aspect of the online learning environment for me was how strong my relationships were with other students. I had a preconceived notion that it would be difficult to connect with other students through the digital medium. Instead, I found myself forming really close friendships with my classmates. Even though we came from such diverse backgrounds, we all shared such pride for the program and the university. My classmates are some of the smartest, kindest, hardest-working people I have ever met. Working in groups with them was a pleasure. These are the kind of relationships that will last a lifetime.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My in-classroom online experience at Gies was far superior to my undergraduate experience. It was really helpful to me that I would learn material through Coursera before the live lecture. If there were concepts that were difficult for me to grasp, I could replay that part of the module over-and-over until I understood it. Rather than trying to take notes and understand the material at the same time, I could just focus on learning. And if I had any questions, I could bring them up during the live lecture. And if I still had questions, I could bring them up during office hours. Since all live lectures were recorded, I could re-listen to lectures at any time which really solidified the material for me. Furthermore, we always had breakout sessions with other students that enabled us to work together and get to know one another. Gies provided an ideal learning environment for me.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Go to faculty office hours. The faculty at Gies all have a passion for teaching and for their areas of expertise. They love to interact with students. The faculty are brilliant, approachable, and accessible. They are the greatest asset of the Gies iMBA program. All students should take advantage of this incredible resource.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would like to see a stronger post-MBA placement program into job opportunities. I’d like more connections to companies and help with crafting resumes and practice interviews. I would also like to have opportunities to take classes in the program post-graduation. I know there are new classes that are offered but these are not well publicized to alumni.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I think the greatest takeaway I received from the iMBA was confidence. This confidence comes from the knowledge I gained from the program. I can look at a financial statement and understand how my business is doing and where it can improve. I can understand how world events might impact my start-up and what adjustments I can make in order to capitalize on current and future conditions. I have come to understand how corporations work and how organizations are structured – and I apply these principles to the startup. I understand characteristics of a good leader and how to manage people in a constructive way. This knowledge has given me the confidence to stand in front of VC’s and Angel Investors and pitch my startup in an impactful way. I owe my confidence in business to the Gies program.

Number of hours per week spent on online MBA:

Based on 2 classes per 8 week semester

Class time (including Coursera): 6 hours

Office hours: 2 hours

Homework, group projects: 10 hours

Total hours: 18 hours

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am focused on bringing the ActivTape products to market. ActivTape is a kinesiology tape which has medicaments such as Capsaicin, Menthol, CBD, and Lidocaine embedded into the adhesive. We are targeting the chronic pain market and have had tremendous response on our clinical trials. We have also tested the tape on athletes, who report it helps them work through sore muscles and ligaments. We have had some COVID-related setbacks in R&D and production in this past year, but we are making good progress toward coming to market by the end of 2021. My goal is to make ActivTape a household name.


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