2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Austin Birner, University of Cincinnati (Lindner)

Austin Birner

Carl H. Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati

“A husband, father of 2 boys, who loves spending time with his family and golfing.”

Age: 33

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Fun fact about yourself: A poem I wrote when I was 8 years old (3rd grade) was published in the “Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans” (1998 Edition).

Undergraduate School and Degree: Undergraduate: University of Dayton – BS in Business Administration (Marketing and Entrepreneurship Majors with Sales Emphasis)

Where are you currently working? Renewal by Andersen, Vice President

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I am proud of being able to help grow our company from $5 million to over $150 million in annual sales revenue in 10 short years. I am most proud of being able to offer opportunities to over 400 employees when we started with only 7 employees 10 years ago.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose UC’s online MBA program due to their prominent reputation and flexible learning online opportunities.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in an online MBA program was the flexibility to learn at my own pace. Since starting my MBA program in 2020, my two sons were born and I expanded our company into two additional states. Attending classes regularly or having a highly structured curriculum was not suitable to my needs. UC’s program was exactly what I needed to complete my degree, continue running my business, while being the best husband and father I could.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was really surprised at how flexible learning was. With the course materials being provided in advanced and due dates remaining consistent, I was able to formulate a plan to accomplish everything I needed when convenient for me. Though this was complicated for me, I felt relief that my course work did not interfere with my family time or business needs.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? My best piece of advice to an applicant would be to list out their goals before committing to an MBA program. Choosing the right MBA program to meet your needs and goals are crucial to success. Goal setting is important in all decision -making processes.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Unfortunately, I cannot think of any changes I would make to an online MBA program. As mentioned, I was very satisfied with my experience.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? During my undergraduate degree, I was given advice by a professor to get an MBA degree after joining the workforce. I couldn’t agree more with this advice. I was able to use what I already knew to help me better comprehend and relate to the teaching material. I was also able to explore opportunities for improving our own business model and procedures. Because I did not need an MBA for a promotion, I decided to get my degree to help me improve personally while being able to apply new ideas to help make our company more successful.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Unofficially, yes. The owner partially retired last year and though I am currently listed as the Vice President, when he officially retires this year, I will be promoted to President/CEO, which is already the role I am acting as.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I pursued an online MBA program mostly for personal growth. Though it was not required for my career, I felt that the program was a positive way to challenge myself. I also felt it could help me improve how our company does business. Both ended up to be true and I am extremely thankful.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA:  Roughly 8-10 hours/week

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I have already achieved my biggest professional goal, but I plan to continue expanding our company into new territories, while growing our current locations.

However, my biggest long-term professional goal now is to use my business knowledge and experience to create a foundation for special needs children. As a father of a son with Autism, I have come to realize that there are few opportunities for children in my area to enjoy typical childhood experiences with certain accommodations. It is my goal to be able to provide these opportunities along with family support groups.


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