2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Jose DeJesus, University of Maryland (Smith)

Jose DeJesus

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business

“Ambitious, collaborative, problem-solving pragmatist delivering strategic innovation and value where business intertwines with technology.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I picked up the ukulele as a post-MBA hobby.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Arizona State University; B.S. Geography [Transferred in from the USAF Academy; Geospatial Science with Japanese Minor]

Where are you currently working? I work as a Software Architect for Crown Castle in our Network Services and Security department.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I architected and implemented a new capability that is solving for several long-standing pain points we had in the organization with respect to analyzing networks across layers 1, 2 and 3 of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. The new technology links physical assets to the logical use of those assets, enabling detailed data flow and risk analysis. Although the technology is still maturing, it is already ensuring that we meet stringent network assurance goals through advanced error detection and continuous monitoring.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? There were several factors in selecting the Maryland Smith OMBA. I was far enough in my career that giving up my job for a full-time, in-person program represented a huge opportunity cost. Therefore, the online format was key. However, I wanted some in-person interaction with my classmates. For that reason, a synchronous program with a residency component was attractive. Finally, I wanted to earn my MBA from a well-known, highly ranked, and respected institution that my GI Bill would cover. The Maryland Smith OMBA checked all the boxes.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in the online MBA program was the ability to interact with people from all over. Since everyone is also a working professional, I got to listen to perspectives from people in a variety of industries working on unique business challenges.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student?

My only in-the-classroom experience was at the United States Air Force Academy and that was different for several other reasons. One thing I will say is that typically in undergrad, you learn first and apply after graduation. With the online MBA, there were many instances where I found myself applying things at work that I learned just the night before. The short, powerful feedback loops let me realize success sooner and adds to the ROI of the program.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Some online programs almost feel a bit isolated from on campus happenings. I would like to see better integration between online programs and the broader campus community. There could be some powerful outcomes with that kind of approach. Students living in other locales can help enable projects and initiatives that extend past the immediate campus. That is a tremendous opportunity to do good for a university’s community impact as well as brand awareness.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The online MBA had a tremendous impact on my current role and career. The knowledge I gained lets me interface more effectively with managers and executives to solve complex business issues. Often, businesses try inappropriately to solve things with software alone, where a process or policy change makes more sense. Being able to decipher between software problems and people problems allows me to deliver enormous value to the business. My new-found business acumen allows me to see the difference and build a case for an appropriate solution.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: Somewhere between 10 and 18 depending on the term and course mix. The average was probably around 12.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I see myself continuing to straddle the line between business and technology. When software is not the core business, organizations often look at IT and development teams as support functions. Even in non-software businesses, technology can be a strategic differentiator and deliver value in novel ways. To that end, I am aiming to be a Chief Information Officer.


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