Getting The Biggest Return On Your Online MBA Investment

You’re never too old to learn something new…it just gets a little harder each year.

Just ask any adult who worked to learn a new language. As an adult, you’re smarter and more experienced. Plus, your prefrontal cortex is fully-formed too. Still, the process can slow and confusing for adults. When you’re young, you can pick up on patterns. You play with components and sequences – and you don’t get flustered when you make mistake. As children, you pursue curiosity over demanding conformity. And you’re not burdened by logic, rules, or biases, either.

Cody Bass equates studying business to mastering a different language. Before pursuing his online MBA with Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, he majored in Petroleum Engineering and worked in facilities and water management. Looking back, he believes his MBA has taught a language that enabled him to understand the ‘why’ behind another person’s reason.

Cody Bass, Rice University (Jones)

“I mean you now understand (on a deeper level) what the execs are trying to do, or what and why investors are asking for certain metrics,” Bass tells P&Q. “Although you may not agree, you are now able to find the part of the equation where you diverge. You can see you agree on more than you do not, and this fosters a relationship and keeps people open vs defensive. You can then understand one another’s reasoning in a respectful way.  You have to understand the foundation of logic and then address that fork in the road where your views do not align. At this point, you now have a much better chance at either convincing your view is correct, or even being persuaded otherwise in a healthy manner. Worst case scenario, you agree to disagree. However, instead of leaving the interaction thinking you are both miles apart, you now have a deeper understanding of how you both view the world and think.”

In other words, business education serves the same purpose as language: transmitting and interpreting experience in a way that reflects a shared commitment and value system. “You may still disagree” Bass adds, “but respect is gained and the ability to work together in a productive manner going forward is much more likely.”

That’s just one of the takeaways gained by this year’s Best & Brightest Online MBA graduates. As part of the process, P&Q asked these MBAs a simple question: How has your online education helped you in your current job? Here are eight stories of how online MBAs were earning a strong early return on the time and money they invested in their degree.

“My favorite moments are always the ones where I can use what I have learned in the program in my life. It was a major unlock for me to work with our finance team and finally understand what they were asking and how I was able to provide them what they needed. It has always been uncomfortable and a bit intimidating as I have felt it to be one of my weaknesses, but now I feel prepared and better equipped to get them what they need.”
Kiza Miller, University of Arizona (Eller)

Maria Ilundain, ’22 graduate of Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School of Business

“My online MBA degree has helped me become a holistic thinker. I have learned how to take a step back and assess challenges from a managerial perspective, where I am able to identify creative solutions to complex problems. The online learning environment is similar to my every day job environment in which I work virtually with team members of various cultures and in differing geographies. The online program has helped me develop my virtual networking and collaboration skills, which are highly relevant and critical to my professional career.”
Maria Ilundain, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

“I was immediately able to apply what I learned in class to my job, which helped me grow in my career. In my finance role, I created forecasting models from my statistical decision-making class. In my marketing and strategy role, I was analyzing my company’s innovation strategy to find opportunities for growth. When I was managing our summer intern remotely, I applied the People, Process and Tools framework to make sure we both had a good experience. I also brought different perspectives and new analytical tools to my team, which I learned about in class, helping me contribute in significant ways.”

Svetlana (Sveta) Vodicka, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

“My goal was to get a better point of view of the business needs and rationale in light of prioritizing user experience. The program helped me achieve just that. Whether it was understanding the financial decisions companies face when allocating budgets to creating marketing plans and setting strategic paths, it gave me a better sense of how user experience can play a role in different parts of the company. Even more, it helped foster better collaboration between UX and other departments could be made and maintained.”
Shir Zalzberg-Gino, IE Business School

Brad Kohlmeyer. ’22 graduate of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

“Broadly, it has helped me ask better questions. Within my specific role, my technical skills are significantly stronger for having gone through the program. The real value though is in the breadth of the material. I am better informed on most areas of the business and have a new perspective on how they are connected. It allows me to find opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Brad Kohlmeyer, University of Michigan (Ross)

“The subject matter has helped me bring a very unique perspective to the type of design strategy work I do. Not only does it differentiate me from my peers, but also allows me to help my colleagues to think differently about how we approach our work and engage with our clients. And the online aspect has been useful in learning how to engage with business partners, clients, and other stakeholders in a virtual environment in a manner that allows for meaningful connection and conversations.”
Harini K. Kataria, Lehigh University

“The MBA education has given me a new way to think – almost like I had been operating in 2-D previously, and now I’m operating in 3-D.  I operate in a much more strategic manner. I’m executing my technical responsibilities while thinking how they fit into the strategic plan. I’m reaching outside my group to influence others.”
Peter Franzen, North Carolina State (Jenkins)

“I am a trained scientist. When my managerial responsibilities grew, I knew I had to accelerate my professional development in business and management. The MBA was perfect in the way that it gave me a broad, solid foundation in these areas, with clear relevance to my job and a confidence boost for example in discussions with the CFO. I shared my knowledge with my senior managers and spearheaded a learning lunch series on leadership. I feel like I am contributing much more on the strategic level to the organization and I am “leaning in” more confidently. For example, I organized bi-yearly strategy retreats for the senior leadership team, driving the agenda, and thinking longer term about our competitive advantages.”
Mirjam Eckert, Warwick Business School





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