2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Eduardo Martins Rocha, University of Illinois (Gies)

Eduardo Martins Rocha

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign – Gies College of Business iMBA

“A very sociable introvert, genuinely interested in people, curious and ambitious, who loves extreme sports.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but I have been living abroad for the past 14 years, including Malaysia, Oman, UAE, Colombia, and other countries.

Fun fact about yourself: I had my first baby (Benjamin) during my first year in the MBA and my second baby (Julia) during the second year. I am the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters and just a couple of years ago I met one of my sisters, the second youngest, for the first time in my life (I was adopted). Yet to meet the others.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Rio de Janeiro State University – B.S. Electrical Engineering

Where are you currently working? Schlumberger – Global Business Services Performance Manager

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I could talk about successful projects with impactful results or operational excellence leading to high profitability. In the end, an achievement I feel most proud of is to have been able to work in many different countries with an extremely diverse group of people, making the whole experience very culturally enriching, exciting, and challenging at the same time. In addition to feeling very comfortable and confident nowadays in a diverse group with various perspectives, I now enjoy extracting the best out of the clash of opposing ideas and thoughts that are commonly observed in a diverse and inclusive environment.  I am thankful for Schlumberger, the company I work for, for having provided me with these opportunities which I value the most in my professional career.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? When choosing an online MBA program, I was looking for a reputable school that delivers high-quality business education. I was also interested in a program that leverages the latest technology, tools, and methodologies available to make the student experience as engaging as possible in a 100% virtual environment. Additionally, Gies College of Business’ mission and vision are very well aligned with my personal belief that democratizing education to break through financial and geographic barriers is essential to achieving higher human development worldwide.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? Being able to balance education with my personal and professional life. After all, I managed to graduate within 2 years while having a full-time job in a foreign country and parenting my 2 newborns. It was definitely challenging, but the online program gave me the flexibility I needed to make it happen.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I thought I would be bored at some point while learning online, but guess what… the environment was so engaging that I can promise I never felt bored throughout my 2 years in the program. The combination of Coursera MOOC videos, weekly live sessions and office hours, group assignments, and the super active network of students and alumni made the whole experience outstanding and much beyond my initial expectations.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Well, my best piece of advice was mentioned in my preview answer: Make an extra effort to network with other students as it does not happen naturally in an online environment. The second-best piece of advice I would give for thriving in the program is to actively participate in every opportunity you have. During the live sessions, be active in the chat, ask questions, and answer questions. When in breakout rooms or team assignments, challenge thoughts and argue (respectfully) with others. Be present, even when listening. Listen actively, engage yourself in the conversation, and share your perspectives and experiences. A lot of the learning will come from other students and how actively you participate.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The online MBA programs need to create moments and opportunities for the students to have live interactions. These could be done in various ways, including live online classes, and online or in-person meet-ups. The Gies College of Business has done an extraordinary job at that, but it may not be the case for all online programs. As an example, I had the chance to join the iConverge, an annual optional in-person meet-up at the campus for students who are willing to get to know each other and the amazing faculty that we have in the program.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The strong practical learning that I experienced throughout the program not only made the whole experience more enjoyable, but it also helped me in practicing the learned concepts in various activities and immediately applying them at work. While in the middle of the program, I was asked at work to design and deploy a customer-centricity program to increase customers’ overall experience. In this opportunity, I was able to apply newly-acquired knowledge in various areas, such as statistics, process management, managing organizations, leadership and teams, and business analytics.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Yes, I did! I have no doubts the practical learning I received during the program was the main driver for that to happen.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: On average, 30 hours per week considering I was almost always taking two courses at a time.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long term is to be in the C-suite of a large corporation, ideally working with people. Even a longer-term goal is to own a business or be part of one that prioritizes local community development.

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