2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Brian J. Pretekin, USC (Marshall)

Brian J. Pretekin

USC Marshall School of Business, OMBA

“Passionate connector of people driven to inspire others.”

Age: 42

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I’m an identical twin.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Ohio University, Bachelor of Science in Communication Systems Management

Where are you currently working? National Account Lead – Sharp/NEC Display Solutions of America

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Early in my career, I was very fortunate to have access to many successful leaders, some of whom became personal mentors helping me create my own career path. My proudest achievement has been growing into that type of leader, someone who can be a mentor to those in my industry launching their own careers.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? What stuck out to me most about USC Marshall was the people. Throughout the application process – from the admissions team, the administration, and the student ambassadors, to the final interview – I felt a vibe, spirit, and energy that represented the type of community I wanted to join, not just for 2 years…but forever. In addition, Southern California is a potential destination for our family and my wife, also an SC alum, who provided me with opportunities to witness the value of the Trojan Network prior to applying.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The flexibility of the online program was a differentiator for me. Trying to balance working full-time, raising a family, and going to school had its share of challenges. The flexibility allowed me to plan the majority of my schoolwork around their schedules, as opposed to the other way around if I was in a night or weekend program where I had in-person class each week. If we were on vacation or visiting family, we would just go, and I would take class or meetings from wherever we were.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The online experience had a different format in that the bulk of our ‘homework’ was done prior to class in order to prepare for a more engaging live session. My undergraduate experience was sort of the opposite, where would go to lectures and the homework followed. Another big difference was the student engagement outside, especially outside of class.  Group work is a big part of the program and highly encouraged, to the point where I was collaborating with classmates on a daily basis.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? I was a student ambassador for our program and I always gave out 4 pieces of advice to prospective students. First, why are you here? Know it, own it, and refer to it during times of adversity. Second, set clear expectations before the start of your program. The better your support system understands what you’re enduring, the better they can support you. Third, the more organized you are, the better you’ll manage your time and enjoy life outside the program. Finally, contribute – your voice matters! You were admitted for a reason. My favorite teaching moments came from my classmates sharing their experiences during class, group meetings, or offline communications.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? We have a week-long residency at the kickoff of our program. Ours was unfortunately canceled due to COVID but was rescheduled over a weekend one year later. I believe another scheduled in-person residency on campus, with the second one coming halfway through the program, would greatly add to the experience.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? In almost every class, I could immediately apply concepts, frameworks, or insights directly into my job. Some classes, in particular, would require us to share experiences about a particular topic from our current or former employer. A good example was during our marketing class, we were studying new product development and were tasked with discussing our organization’s stage-gate process. I scheduled a meeting with our director of product management, and he walked me through our process. Anytime I could take a class subject to a subject matter expert in my own organization, the learning was accelerated.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Not yet

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? Not yet

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 25

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to be the kind of leader who inspires others to become the best versions of themselves.



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