2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Kevin Bellus, Indiana University (Kelley)

Kevin Bellus

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Kelley Direct Online MBA Program

“Girl dad, cybersecurity advocate, serial Peloton high-fiver, and passionate about finding the humor in everything.”

Age: 32

Hometown: Fairfax, VA

Fun fact about yourself: I am in a lifelong competition with my dad to see who can attend a game at every MLB stadium first. Currently in the lead with 16 of 30, with three more planned this summer.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.A. in History with Minors in Ethics and Military Science & Leadership, Marquette University

Where are you currently working? Northern Trust Corporation, Vice President – Information Security Risk Management

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of my greatest strengths is the ability to quickly identify opportunities for organizational improvement and adapt my skills to seize them. This was crucial when I created a new role at one of my prior organizations. In that role, I created a technology-focused strategic roadmap and redefined an executive council to guide cybersecurity decision-making. By translating complex technical concepts into actionable business assessments, I secured support and funding for several major projects that not only improved the firm’s security posture, but also my team’s status within the organization.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I spent several months researching online master’s programs in the United States, creating multiple spreadsheets, interviewing admissions personnel, and discussing my professional goals with mentors to inform my decision. Kelley immediately stood out thanks to the program’s stellar reputation for producing business leaders, expansive alumni network, and diverse student body.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The best part about participating in an online MBA program is the flexibility it affords with regard to both time and geography. Kelley Direct enables me to obtain a degree from one of the world’s premier business and research institutions without moving away from my support group and sacrificing two years of my career. Additionally, remote and asynchronous learning allows me to support my spouse’s career and prioritize simple joys like reading my daughter bedtime stories.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I am consistently surprised at the ease with which Kelley Direct candidates build strong connections through meaningful dialogue. Every Zoom breakout session during synchronous classes is replete with exceptional leaders analyzing course content through the lenses of their unique experience and forging bonds with people they would otherwise never interact with. When I finally met members of my cohort for the first-time during Kelley On Campus, it felt like meeting up with old friends rather than a group of strangers I had only seen in small, on-screen tiles a few times a week.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The most noticeable difference between my in-person undergraduate and online MBA experiences is the ability to directly employ the concepts learned in class in a professional setting, often the very next day. My undergraduate studies were purely academic in nature which limited the real-life impact. Conversely, the rigor and practical application of MBA skills has noticeably improved my performance at work and has encouraged me to continue learning and growing outside of class and work.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? In our very first class, my “Leading Organizations” professor introduced us to the “Four Burner Theory,” which postulates that, much like a stovetop with four burners, you must turn the heat down on one or more of your quadrants (family, friends, health, and work/school) in order to prioritize another. Do not fall into this trap. Instead, know that while there will be constraints on your time, it is important to schedule dedicated time for the other burners. For example, committing time and energy towards your health and relationships throughout the program will ensure continued success long after you receive your degree.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? A significant challenge in any online program is that it places the onus on students to socialize and network outside of class. Despite the stereotype, not every MBA candidate is extraverted, so offering more school-sponsored opportunities and tools to connect in smaller groups would benefit the entire program. Additionally, expanding cross-pollination between the different MBA programs (in-person, online, weekend, etc.) would expose these disparate groups to the experiences and issues of other students and improve networking.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Participating in the Kelley Direct program has not only provided me with valuable insight into aspects of the business typically separated from technology partners but has also improved my effectiveness at remote leadership, communication, and productivity. Leveraging the skills I have learned in class and through group work, I have substantially cut down the volume and length of meetings while improving my team’s cohesion and deliverable quality. Additionally, concepts learned from subjects outside my area of responsibility like Marketing and Finance have enhanced my interactions with work colleagues given that I have a better understanding of their unique challenges and opportunities.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? I accepted a new role that was three levels higher than my previous role (Specialist to Senior Consultant). 

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? Yes.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: I typically dedicate 10 to 15 hours to coursework each week, with an additional hour or two for ancillary activities like networking, independent research, and professional development.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? As the world continues to rapidly digitize in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting consumer and corporate data will become not only a legal or financial issue, but also a national security and social justice imperative. I plan on applying the skills, concepts, and experiences gained through the Kelley Direct program towards expanding my leadership sphere of influence to continue bridging the cybersecurity awareness and understanding gap between corporations, consumers, and governments to create a more secure future.

MEET THE ENTIRE BEST & BRIGHTEST ONLINE MBA CLASS OF 2022

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