2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Christopher “CJ” Epps, Boston University (Questrom)

Christopher “CJ” Epps

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“Creative, driven leader and collaborator who loves music and has a life-long commitment to learning.”

 Age: 39

 Hometown: Norfolk, Virginia

Fun fact about yourself: I have been fascinated by turtles since I was a child and have a collection of turtles from all over the world made of marble, wood, acrylic and other materials.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Hampton University / BA in Journalism and Communications

Where are you currently working? I currently work for the Biden administration as the Director of the Office of External Affairs & Communications at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I worked in international trade, I was charged with issuing reports that detailed global export opportunities in various U.S. industries/sectors. The reports’ content was technical in nature; however, I had to highlight salient points and demonstrate the reports’ value to several stakeholders including industry organizations and the media. I created the playbook for the first-ever rollout and packaging of these reports, and my communications campaign was wildly successful. I am most proud of this achievement because my team went on to earn the highest agency award for an extraordinary contribution.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose Questrom’s online MBA program because I like how the curriculum is structured — multiple topics are consolidated into modules instead of several individual courses that may take several years to complete as a part-time student. I also value the distinction of a Boston University degree as well as a program that would not leave me in debt upon graduation.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? My favorite part of being in an online MBA program is the ability to interact with students across the globe. The virtual classroom for Questrom’s online MBA features students who are learning, interacting and completing assignments synchronously, all while physically in their respective countries. I served as a peer mentor during my tenure. It was extremely fascinating to be able to coach, support and uplift another student in a time zone 13 hours ahead of mine.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? The most surprising aspect of the online learning environment at Questrom was the opportunity to [virtually] meet with the professors outside of the classroom. I know that learning facilitators [part of the teaching team] are available to assist students and answer course-related questions; however, I never expected professors – many of whom teach courses outside of the online MBA program – to be as available as they were for group and individual office hours.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? It is not easy to compare my in-classroom experience as an undergraduate student to my online graduate student experience because the experiences are so different. In undergrad, the class size was substantially smaller and the classes were more frequent (2-3 times a week). In contrast, my online graduate experience includes classes of a longer duration, condensed student presentations, and larger class sizes with varying levels of interaction during live class. Both classroom experiences complemented a particular phase of my life but most important: I learned and enjoyed both experiences.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? All MBA students have interests in a diversity of topics; therefore, one thing I’d change about an online MBA program is for each school to provide an optional elective that the student can select to align with his or her personal interests while complementing the business education. 

How has your online education helped you in your current job? My online education has helped me in my current job by facilitating my understanding of how my organization creates and captures value, and how that informs my team’s future operations and actions. Additionally, the module on risk assessment and management has proved valuable in real time as I’ve been able to incorporate learned concepts in my quarterly planning.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? While in the program, I didn’t earn a promotion per se but I did change jobs in the middle of a semester. I transitioned from a multicultural communications role at a global consulting firm to an external affairs role in the federal government.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I pursued an online MBA instead of a full-time residential program for one main reason: flexibility. Professionally and personally, I travel a great deal and needed a program that afforded me the opportunity to literally learn from anywhere. I have completed online MBA assignments while in other countries, participated in class on trains and airplanes, and met with my cohort team while on vacation. At this juncture in my life, the traditional classroom wouldn’t be the best fit.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: As I learned in the ‘Managing Performance with Data’ module, you never give an exact number but a range; therefore, on average, I spend about 15-25 hours each week reviewing course material, completing assignments, meeting with my cohort team, and attending live class.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to continue down the path of service where I can help society and create some magic along the way. I see a career in Corporate Social Responsibility and cause marketing in my future but will keep an open mind as the last two decades have taught me to expect the unexpected.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.