2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Michael Reid Hyland, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Michael Reid Hyland

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Compassion First. Family Oriented. Music Enthusiast. Dog Lover. Adventure Seeker. Avid Investor. Problem Solver.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Annapolis, MD

Fun fact about yourself: Currently moonlighting as a musician in an acoustic guitar duo with my brother Erik.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. & M.S. Electrical Engineering, University of Maryland

Where are you currently working? Manager, Innovation Ecosystems – Northrop Grumman

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the transitions I’ve made during my brief career and my ability to adapt and learn new things. When I joined Northrop in 2017, all of my experience was engineering based in a lab environment. Northrop provided a rotational opportunity that allowed me to gain experience in other areas such as operations, strategy, competitive analytics, and now management within our Innovation Ecosystem. Deciding to leave my Ph.D. program at Maryland and pivot to pursue something well outside of my skill set was challenging yet rewarding. In hindsight, I am glad I took this leap because it has not only made me a more well-rounded leader, but also a better person inside and outside of the workplace.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? When starting my MBA search, I was looking for a part-time program that would build my skill set and complement my transition out of engineering without having to forfeit my full-time career. I ultimately chose Tepper’s part-time online hybrid program because of their ranking and emphasis on analytics. Additionally, the merit of the online MBA program matches the caliber of the full-time program.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The flexibility of an online environment is unparalleled. Having the ability to attend class from anywhere provides more time to focus on excelling in my personal and professional life for an accessible work-life balance. For example, it removes the stress of rushing out of work to get to class on time or missing family events to physically be in a classroom. My life was not built around school. Instead, the online program is built to complement your already existing schedule, which was an incredible convenience. Professors and TAs also take the time to be available within the hectic student schedule, such as over the weekends.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The sense of community that Tepper cultivates in their online cohorts is something special and will be my most treasured part of this experience. Initially, I had assumed that participating online from my home would be isolating. Fortunately, this unique learning environment provided plenty of opportunities to build relationships through group work, zoom happy hours, and of course, in-person Access Weekends. All of us were undergoing a similar challenge of juggling work, school, and family, which made it easy to relate to one another. This fostered a strong sense of community that allowed us to grow closer together throughout the program.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? Tepper started during a much more demanding time in my life and the online experience molded around these demands. During undergrad, free time was more abundant. At the same time, I’ve felt much more aligned with my peers and the engaging coursework throughout the online MBA program. The folks in this program spend their free time learning because they are genuinely curious people. Their ambition is infectious, and the value of the program is reflected in their strong work ethic.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Embrace it. Enjoy the ups and downs. Never be afraid to ask questions. No one is perfect.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The reputation. Online learning in general has carried an unfair stigma that it is easier and less demanding. I would champion Tepper’s online MBA program to be just as, if not more effective than the full-time program. Professors consistently provide feedback about how much more engaged and inquisitive the online students are compared to what they are used to. I think many of us are putting in the extra hours to go above and beyond because we are proactively choosing to be here.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? In almost every class I’ve taken at Tepper, there are a few hidden gems that have truly changed the way I think and have completely reframed the way I approach problems. I chose to participate in the Entrepreneurship Track at Tepper, which has provided me with the skills and knowledge to bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the Innovation team at a large defense contractor. The leadership skills that Tepper emphasizes have helped me to transition from engineering to management.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 10

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Starting my own business is the ultimate goal. I would like to have the opportunity to create jobs and make a positive impact on a community by focusing on building better education systems in inner cities.


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