2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Kristy O’Hara, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Kristy O’Hara

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Passionate entrepreneur, professional, military spouse, and friend looking to do some good in the world.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Completed 90% my MBA from Iwakuni, Japan. Currently reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Fun fact about yourself: I was an extra in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The Georgia Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (2014)

Where are you currently working?

CEO and Co-Founder at Mutually Dependent

Manager, Client Operations at Advocate – The Premier TBM Services Company

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of co-founding Mutually Dependent and Tepper made that possible. Mutually Dependent is an employment services company focused on connecting military spouses in need of remote, flexible jobs with businesses in need of highly adaptable talent. Military spouses have been referred to as “dependents” since the founding of America in 1776. As a military spouse myself, I can attest that in 2021, the profile of military spouses looks a whole lot different, and that profile largely does not depict the dependencies of women in 1776. Instead, military spouses and active-duty service members are Mutually Dependent on one another for countless deployments, relocations, unexpected challenges, and financial stability and Mutually Dependent aims to highlight just that.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Tepper was the only MBA program that I applied to. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and knew the prestige associated with Carnegie Mellon University and the Tepper School of Business. When I reached the point in my professional career when I was itching to go to business school, Tepper’s part-time online hybrid program fit perfectly into my life. At the time, I had just married an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot and knew that for the foreseeable future, the military would dictate where we lived. Tepper was able to meet me where I was at like no other program could.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? Tepper offers an incredibly unique part-time online hybrid MBA program. During non-pandemic times, six times per year the program meets in person for three days. These “Access Weekends” are basically adult summer camp full of professional development, networking, class, and plenty of organized (and unorganized) fun. To give you an idea of how much I valued these weekends, I traveled from Iwakuni, Japan to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – which takes 24+ hours – sometimes for no more than three days. I made this trip 14 times in 2.5 years and never missed an Access Weekend. I cannot wait to get back on campus!

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The people in my cohort have become some of my best friends. I could have never imagined that would have come from a primarily online learning environment.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Tepper has some incredible faculty. The same faculty that teach in the full-time program teach in the part-time online hybrid program. No matter the mode of delivery, these faculty are willing to help you both in-class and out-of-class. I want to give a special shout-out to Tepper’s Entrepreneurship faculty and the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Without them, my startup – Mutually Dependent – would not be possible.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? You get out of the program what you put into it. Even though I physically lived on the other side of the world for the majority of the program, I got involved in all of the ways that I could during my time at Tepper. I served as a Vice President on the Graduate Business Association (GBA) board and became a finalist in the McGinnis Venture Capital Competition. As Sheryl Sandberg once said, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on.” Tepper has been my rocket ship.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? As the program grows, more electives become available to part-time online hybrid students. The pandemic has opened most all courses to online students. I was fortunate to take some incredible elective courses over the last 12-months that would not have been offered had not been for the pandemic. I hope that the number of electives continues to grow for part-time online hybrid Tepper students.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Beyond co-founding Mutually Dependent, I also received a promotion at my full-time employer Advocate. Advocate is a boutique IT Consulting Firm headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia that focuses on Technology Business Management. I was promoted from a Program Manager to the Manager of our team of Program Managers as a direct result of my time at Tepper. I want to give a special shout-out to the Accelerate Leadership Center. The one-on-one coaching, workshops, and Leadership Development Certification curriculum have given me the tools to feel confident in not only my ability to effectively manage, but effectively lead.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 20 hours per week of course work and extracurricular commitments.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To be a full-time entrepreneur and do some good in the world.


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