2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Collin Timothy Sturdivant, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Collin Timothy Sturdivant

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“A leader who enjoys finding ways to maximize full potential of teams, resources and ideas.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Fun fact about yourself:  I played college football (three-year letter winner) at the U.S. Naval Academy

Undergraduate School and Degree: U.S. Naval Academy, BS, oceanography

Where are you currently working? United States Navy, Naval Supply Officer for the biggest Strike Fighter Squadron in the U.S. Pacific Fleet

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Throughout my career, I have been part of major projects – primarily helping reshape the future logistics strategy for the Navy’s submarine and expeditionary force. While I’m proud of these accomplishments, being a representative for the African American community among the Naval Officer Corps is my most rewarding achievement. In recent reports, African Americans only account for 8% of the U.S. Naval Officers across the Department of Defense, and that number lowers to 1.5% at the most senior ranks (Rear Admiral to Admiral). My service is a tangible example for Black naval recruits across America to follow.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? UNC Kenan-Flagler provides great flexibility to complete a top MBA program. As my job requires extensive travel, UNC Kenan-Flagler was the perfect choice. Over the last two years, I’ve worked towards my degree from military bases across the country alongside peers from around the globe.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? First, it was the family environment and empathy that the faculty and staff display. During the onset of COVID-19, they worked tirelessly to ensure that students could meet all graduation requirements (policy changes, course creation, etc.) and even sent out thoughtful gifts to encourage us along the way.

Second, I’ve enjoyed access to on-campus student resources and the alumni network. While you have to have more flexibility and time to take advantage of these avenues (versus full-time students), the program team is always willing to provide resources including networking, career coaching and interview prep.

These resources have allowed me to identify my desired career path in the tech industry.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising thing is how quickly I can deploy knowledge gained from courses in my current role. Because I have continuous access to course material and recorded lectures, I have been able to immediately provide an impact for my team and organization. Recently, we crafted a linear programming model in my Business Modeling class. The next day, after the live session with our professor, I used that model as a base to help my team better predict the future fuel costs for flight operations.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? UNC Kenan-Flagler limits live classes 15 to 20 students in live sessions, which is very similar to my undergraduate classes. So from an environment perspective, I saw no difference. However, being in a remote graduate program requires you to be accountable and responsible with your time. Things move fast! So unlike traditional methods of education, the learning curve may be steep from week-to-week in some courses.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Ensure that you have a support system in place and that expectations are set, whether that’s at work or at home. Pursuing an MBA demands a lot of your time, so this is a period for you to be more intrinsically focused and ensure those around you are supportive.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? It would be great to have even more course integration opportunities between the Online MBA program with the Weekend Executive MBA, Evening MBA, and Full-Time MBA programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler. During COVID, I took several courses alongside many of my peers from these programs. I found the environment to be super exciting and engaging because there are several different strengths each student body brings (work experience, personal experience, leadership, etc.).

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I’ve applied course material in real time to my current role. As a result, I’ve become a more valuable team member and enhanced my ability to influence critical decisions.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 10-12 hours

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I plan to enter into the non-profit or VC space to help business in underrepresented communities break through traditional barriers of immobility.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.