2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Matthew Thomas Mullins, Penn State (Smeal)

Matthew Thomas Mullins

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business, Penn State World Campus

An Introvert, Bibliophile and Philomath. I appreciate dry humor and sound logic.”

Age: 38

Hometown: Crestview, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I plan to run around the coast of Florida at a future, undetermined date. I will start with one foot in Alabama on the Gulf Coast, run along the coast or nearest highway down to the Keys and end in Georgia on the Atlantic Coast.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Bachelor of Civil Engineering, Florida State University

Master of Engineering Management, Penn State

Where are you currently working?

Building Envelope Department Manager, Contour Engineering/Universal Engineering

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? A younger engineer gave me a card expressing appreciation for mentoring her. Engineering is a proud profession with a long history of mentorship. I appreciated the engineers that mentored me and am proud that I passed it on.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I completed my first masters through Penn State World Campus. After that experience, I did not consider other universities; I only applied to Penn State. We Are!

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The flexibility. I enjoy learning, but did not want to take two years off from my career to pursue an MBA. The online option allowed me to pursue both goals simultaneously.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The collaboration. I worked with people across the United States and beyond, and the experience was amazing. People with diverse backgrounds, experience, and education were brought together by this program.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? While both have their benefits, I enjoyed the online experience much more than the in-person experience. I like being able to work at my schedule, review the recordings, and interact with the professors and cohort synchronously and asynchronously. The professors and classmates were just as accessible in the online program as they were in the in-person program.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? An MBA is far more than the piece of paper to hang on the wall at the end. Embrace the experience and absorb the knowledge. Balance work, family, rest, play, and your education.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Not much except more flexibility, but that is a difficult ask. I would limit the midweek assignments. Most people in an online program work 40-60 hours. Rolling and overlapping deadlines would work better. On each weekend, an initial post should be due as well as the responses to the posts from the previous week, rather than having the initial post due midweek and responses due end of week.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Absolutely. I was amazed at the applicability of the material from managing team dynamics and resolving conflict to developing marketing strategies and performing economic analyses.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 20+. I dedicated my weekends to the program and worked on the program on weeknights to complete the midweek assignments.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Start my own company and pursue a Ph.D.


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