2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Jono Hirsch, University of Arizona (Eller)

Jono Hirsch

University of Arizona, Eller College of Management

“An accountable, ethical, and professional problem solver with an entrepreneurial mindset and international perspective.”

Age: 39

Hometown: San Dimas, CA (now Melbourne, Australia)

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve played in ice hockey leagues on three continents (North America, Asia, Oceania).

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Cal State Fullerton – Bachelor: Business Administration (Finance)
Northern Michigan University – Associate: Business & Computer Information Systems

Where are you currently working? Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
(Role: Analyst, Vendor Engagement & Procurement)

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Twelve years ago, I made a life-changing decision to relocate my life from Los Angeles to Melbourne and pursue love. Whilst this move to Australia was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made in my life, it did not come without sacrifice. The move required a complete reboot to my professional career and truly tested my ability to adapt to life in a foreign land. The obligatory compromise of starting my career over presented many new challenges and required me to think like an entrepreneur: If unsuccessful, (1) learn from failure, (2) reevaluate, and (3) try again with a better approach. The prospect of selling my skills to a new market that I did not entirely understand seemed like a giant hurdle to overcome, but I knew that the most critical elements to my success would be perseverance and belief in my abilities.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I knew I would be studying via an online format and Eller was instantly on my shortlist. Since I was participating from overseas, I was looking for a program that had an advanced digital infrastructure already established and delivery of content that afforded me the flexibility to complete coursework asynchronously in my own time zone. Eller is an excellent program with a great reputation and offers incredible value via its inclusive access to all required books and case study materials (no hidden fees). There was also no erosion in the quality of the education since I had equitable access to the same professors and curriculum that the full-time and evening programs received. Eller also offered me a bit of familiarity and a closer connection to home since I grew up in nearby Southern California.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? Flexibility. Not only was I participating from a different country, but I was also sometimes watching lectures, reading textbooks, or writing papers on my phone during my daily commutes on the train. Time is our most valuable resource, so learning in an online format afforded me an opportunity to study on my schedule and also still meet my obligations at home and at work.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My experiences during undergrad on campus made it extremely easy to meet new people and feel a sense of belonging on campus. Studying remotely is a completely different experience and requires considerably more effort to create those human interactions. When I began at Eller, I was not expecting how connected I would feel with the Tucson campus and amongst the rest of my cohort. I got to know a few classmates pretty well over these past two years, which has made the experience a lot more enjoyable because we are all on the same journey together. There are some truly amazing people in the classroom whom all have rich backgrounds and personal experiences to share.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The biggest hurdle that all online programs face is the difficulty in establishing and maintaining a connection amongst students. Regardless of class size, we are still sitting alone in front of our computer screen and may have minimal interaction with others during a specific course or given week. Moments of feeling isolated can develop, so establishing and maintaining a sense of community within the cohort is essential. Online students do face an uphill battle within the networking space and miss out on those informal student/peer interactions, so perhaps programs can focus on building that connective tissue a bit more in order to bridge the gap between in-person delivery and online formats. With that being said, the responsibility still lies in the hands of the student to make new connections and expand their network.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? One of the auxiliary benefits has been the fluency of working with others in an online format to complete projects, host web meetings, and collaborate on live documents. By now, a majority of us are probably familiar with how to conduct our work in the virtual workplace, but when we were all required to work from home during 2020, it was a seamless transition since I had already been operating in an online setting for school for nearly a year by that point. Having that familiarity in the online space via Eller enabled me to draft sound transition plans to manage virtual operational workflow in addition to offering a solid foundation for co-worker support during such a turbulent period in our lives.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 25-30 hours/week (10-12 hours/course x 2 or 3 courses)

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My hope is that I will be able to continue to adapt and impact the lives and careers of others. Whether this impact is made via consulting, mentoring, leading a company, managing a financial portfolio, or promoting financial literacy within our schools, my goal is that I will continue to learn and trade in the marketplace of ideas with others. As long as I remain curious about the world, I will be able to gain fresh perspectives that will boost creativity and provide pathways to discovering innovative solutions to our future challenges.


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