2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Kristin Zaitz, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Kristin Zaitz

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“I am an entrepreneur, innovator, engineer, and activist working in the energy and climate fields.”

Age: 40

Hometown: Los Osos, CA

Fun fact about yourself: A few fun facts: I had my third child during my online MBA program. I was a division 1 fast pitch softball pitcher in my undergrad years. I have run the Boston Marathon.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering

Where are you currently working? I work for Pacific Gas and Electric Company as an Engineering Manager at Diablo Canyon Power Plant

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have started a non-profit organization focused on climate solutions, opened a restaurant, earned my professional engineer’s license and project management certificate, and earned my MBA while raising three young children and working full time. If I have to pick one, I will say I am most proud of founding Mothers for Nuclear, a nonprofit focused on building a global community of support for clean energy. We were recently featured in The New Yorker.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose ASU’s online MBA program because of its high rankings, the equity of the online program with the in-classroom experience, and the school’s focus on innovation.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The online MBA program gave me the flexibility to fit school into an already busy schedule. I also got the chance to learn with many other high-achieving individuals from all over the world and incorporate these diverse experiences into our learning.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was happily surprised at the high level of engagement that I felt in the online format. ASU’s program was designed to maximize student collaboration, and they also provided a plethora or professional networking and extracurricular opportunities. For example, I was able to team up with a group of in-person MBA students to complete a pro-bono business consulting engagement for a startup company looking to scale their energy efficiency business. I was also able to participate in a study abroad experience with other students from the online and in-person MBA programs.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My online experience was equally rigorous and beneficial compared to my in-classroom undergrad experience. I was able to collaborate with others, build relationships, and maximize learning opportunities in both formats. The online experience had the added benefit of flexibility, which was key to my success in tackling an MBA while continuing full-time employment and raising a young family.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? When you commit to a program, jump in with the intention to maximize your learning opportunities. The online format provides options to participate in a diverse mix of opportunities, but you need to take the initiative to grab these opportunities when they come up. It can be easier to let opportunities slide by in an online format without the social cues of the in-classroom format. Don’t let this happen!

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would change the stigma that an online MBA is not as worthwhile as an in-classroom MBA. I think that post-COVID social and educational norms will accelerate this change.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My MBA experience has given me the confidence to speak up and to go for opportunities I otherwise wouldn’t have thought I had the experience for. It has also helped me to gain confidence as a management decision-maker – I am asking better questions and I am more strategic.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 20-30 hours per week

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be a key player in protecting the existing nuclear energy fleet in the US and around the world, and setting the stage to roll out advanced reactors.



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