2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Joseph Arrunategui, University of Florida (Warrington)

Joseph Arrunategui

University of Florida, Warrington Online MBA

“A caring human interested in how you are feeling today and looking to disrupt industries.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: I have been to Peru roughly twenty times.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Science in Information Systems and Operations Management from The University of Florida. Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The University of Florida.

Where are you currently working? Amazon as a Senior Product Manager

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I have had the chance to work on transformative cloud projects at Oracle, and I am currently working on a confidential delivery program at Amazon. However, I am most proud of completing over twenty interviews during my online MBA program while working full-time. Each interview taught me something about myself, a role, or an industry. I walked away with some offers, some denials, but more importantly, high-caliber mentors. With this knowledge, I am able to help others interview, help others write their resume, and give guidance on navigating the competitive job-seeking world; this is how I am able to give back to society at this stage in my life. I am also proud of working on both time management and time ownership, this process helped me truly understand prioritization.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? This sounds like one of the questions on my application! UF offered a 1-year program, allowing me to continue gaining work experience and not forego salary at Oracle. UF is also highly-ranked among online MBA programs, thus reassuring the global brand. Ultimately, speaking with their faculty prior to applying increased my confidence in the program’s ability to help me grow. The goal is not to simply join an outstanding program, but to also join a program with faculty you relate to on a personal level, students you will cross paths with geographically, and professors you will maintain relationships with for years to come; I still grab food and drinks with a couple of my MBA professors when I fly into Gainesville! Lastly, I knew I was joining a program that will provide more than didactic learning, I knew it was going to provide leadership and networking opportunities. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a Double Gator?

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part had to be the intangible benefits: the often-overlooked lessons learned. For example, having to coordinate meetings across different time zones is a critical skill in the real world. Understanding each online MBA candidate has their own life with a concurrent profession makes you realize you each have different schedules and responsibilities; there are times when classmates have to take their children to events, attend health visits, or simply handle late-night work deadlines. This is what happens in the real world! So, you learn to get the school assignment or case study done without them as a team; at work, leadership is expecting your team to complete their deliverable. Even if one person is Out-Of-Office (OOO), it still has to be completed. The aforementioned happens often, and the online MBA program prepares you for this in the real world. It teaches you how to handle difficult conversations with classmates and professors virtually, as well as praising those around you who do a good job.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? There is no way around it: in-the-classroom learning is definitely a more viable option for student engagement and instantaneous healthy debates. However, now more than ever, it is critical to learn how to be efficient and effective in an online environment, like the classroom or in work meetings. My experiences are similar due to professors being able to provide one-to-one attention, along with students being able to ask questions. They differ because each comment or question does take up more time. In the classroom, students are able to spark side conversations and professors tend to follow the Socratic method. In contrast, in an online setting, they may only message each other and professors tend to focus on delivering information. It does take some getting used to, but the educational value remains the same.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? As cliche as it sounds, I definitely suggest networking. In order to leverage the full potential of your MBA. You should network with your cohort, school’s MBA alumni, professors, and faculty. Your program has seen thousands of MBA graduates; faculty certainly knows an alumnus who is either working in your desired function, role, or company. Also, please always remember, your MBA will pay it dividends for years to come. You will experience an immediate impact from a professional level, but you will also experience a lasting gift, which includes friends, memories, and opportunities.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would offer two to three in-person opportunities throughout the span of the program, along with an international trip. It is critical for students to have the ability to see their campus and potentially meet and network with full-time MBA students. An online MBA program must make their online MBA students feel as if they are truly part of the university (which they are!). This fosters the ability to create traditions and the desire to give back. I state this assuming most online MBA’s follow the traditional fully-online schedule.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? As a Senior Product Manager, my goal is to deliver the best product keeping our customers in mind at all times. My online MBA education has helped me consider all lines of businesses when working on a feature or workstream. I am able to significantly leverage knowledge in supply chain management, intellectual property rights, and corporate finance. I am also able to handle difficult conversations over Zoom and e-mail better than before. Lastly, a course known as ‘Professional Communication’, has allowed me effectively communicate in the workplace across all channels, including emails, virtual meetings, and instant messages.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Upon graduation, my new role with Amazon is considered a significant promotion from my previous role at Oracle.

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? During the online MBA program, I did not. After graduation, I earned a raise. It is common for MBA students to receive competitive offers which include a base, sign-on bonus, and Restricted Stock Units.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: Variable, but usually 17-20. School from 7-10 PM Monday-Thursday, rarely Friday. 4-6 hours combined Saturday and Sunday.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to make an impact. I want to give back to multiple communities. I want to create a solution that will solve a problem in society. This will definitely bring in revenue, but the ultimate goal is to help others. If you want me to tie this to a tangible trajectory, I want to lead an organization, preferably within smart technology or aviation, that will reduce human physical effort, increase safety, and bring people together. As the years pass by, I would like to become well-versed in strategy in order to help guide other businesses, and ultimately disrupt industries while giving back and making leaders along the way.

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