2021 Best & Brightest Online MBAs: Nicole Nelsen, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Nicole Nelsen

University of Minnesota Twin Cities – Carlson School of Management

“Sales strategist that is a lion for transformation with a deep passion for the planet.”

Age: 36

Hometown: Roseville, MN

Fun fact about yourself: My partner and I eloped just 1 month after we were engaged.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S.B. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities – Carlson School of Management

Where are you currently working? General Mills, Zone Sales Leader – Convenience

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was developing the 10-year long range plan and strategy for the Walmart bakery that led to R&D invention within our high speed, cut dough portfolio. The organization made a 5 year investment to discovering the technology to bring true invention to one of our best plants – Team Joplin. So proud of this group to creating the technology that could insulate our business for the long haul vs. innovating within flavor/format.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? It was the flexibility to meet the demands of my full-time job and responsibilities to my family at home. I desired the ability to work where and when I was ready to learn and also when the other demands on my time would allow. The Online MBA program gave me the room to effectively prioritize each and every day, and sometimes down to the hour or minute.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I really enjoyed the ability to watch lectures more than once. I would initially absorb the information, and then watch again before a test or quiz or even while I was doing a homework assignment to ensure that I was doing the work precisely the first time. The online program had really neat virtual engagement tools, and I’ve brought those tools and additional ideas to my professional workplace to streamline our efforts for the most effective and efficient ways of working possible!

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? It was the interaction and engagement with my classmates and professor. Between group projects, office hours, and discussion boards – I was able to connect in a meaningful way with several people and each professor in each of the courses that I took.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I did a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning as a part of my online program, which was a nice blend of flexing to my work and home schedule alongside in person engagement and learning. The biggest benefit of the online program was acknowledging when I was ready to learn and choosing to do my work in those moments. This enabled me to leverage times when I had higher engagement to internalize the information vs. attending at a specific class time. I also found the material and information more applicable to my day-to-day life, and I was able to immediately apply the concepts to my professional career and team.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? You will enable your best experience through Internal motivation and the rigor to schedule learning time at your peak learning hours. Your entire family is a part of this program, so make them aware early and often that you will have carved out time for learning that needs to be dedicated and uninterrupted for you to maximize your investment in your learning. 

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Getting more elective courses online. I was limited by the courses that were available online, and it would have been great to include some of the more peripheral courses in the online format. Additionally, some professors do/did a better job of creating and updating their online content. Auditing the online experience for students is critical to improve less-than-engaging courses for future semesters. The best professors created terrific materials and videos one time that can be used for several years to come.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I have applied the softer skill courses directly to my management and leadership journey, and continue to put rigor behind becoming the best engaging leader that I can be. The Finance and Accounting courses are helping me articulate across other functional areas of my company to broaden my impact, increase my strategic effectiveness, and enable my long term success at higher levels of the organization.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 10-20

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be an officer at a Fortune 500 company.



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