2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Eric M. Van Horn, University of Nebraska

Eric M. Van Horn

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Adaptable generalist and team leader who is driven to solve problems and tackle new challenges.”

Age: 38

Hometown: Washington, DC; originally Lincoln, Nebraska

Fun fact about yourself: I worked as a state-licensed industrial pest control technician in high school and college.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Iowa State University, Bachelor of Science in Economics (2006)

Where are you currently working? Most recently, I was a Senior Vice President and Strategist at Deliver Strategies. I’m now looking for my next opportunity.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2019 and 2020, I helped establish and execute a nonprofit program dedicated to increasing voter participation in Pennsylvania. Prior to 2020, voters in Pennsylvania needed an excuse to vote by mail. A new law changed that, opening up mail-in voting to all registered Pennsylvania voters. Working with a large coalition of nonprofit organizations, political professionals, and community leaders, the organization executed a $20+ million program and helped 3.2 million Pennsylvanians vote by mail in 2020. The team constantly met new challenges, including those brought on by the pandemic and those hostile to the very idea of casting secure ballots by mail. Each and every time, the team rose to the occasion — all while adapting our work and lives to fit within the realities of COVID-19. It was an honor to help establish and contribute to such an excellent group of people.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Nebraska has long been a leader in the online MBA space, and, as a native Nebraskan, I was already aware of the high value-to-cost ratio they offered. Once I decided I would take an online program rather than an in-person one, it was an easy choice.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The flexibility that a mostly asynchronous environment offers is a huge benefit to anyone working full-time. That includes the day-to-day scheduling flexibility as well as the ability to change locations and continue taking classes. For instance, my wife and I spent 8 weeks last summer in Colorado, and I was able to continue working remotely and doing coursework almost 2000 miles from home.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I took an online class in high school (2001-2002), and the online learning platforms have come a long way. I was pleasantly surprised at how interactive and intuitive the platforms were, and professors have found interesting ways to make their classes unique and engaging.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Those who get the most out of their MBA programs are the ones who put the most in. No one is going to make sure you do the reading or watch every video, but by holding yourself accountable and doing the work, you can maximize the value you are getting from your program.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? While researching MBA options, many people warned me that pursuing online education would make networking harder. I certainly found that to be the case. I hope future students who take online courses find or create more ways to network while earning their MBAs.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I found my MBA coursework to be hugely valuable at my previous job. Part of the reason I pursued an MBA was to become a better manager, and I feel like several aspects of the coursework helped me get a better handle on how to manage my team more effectively. I also gained a better appreciation for the importance of a healthy company culture and investments in human resources. While I wasn’t able to affect much change in this area, I was able to diagnose issues and be a positive resource for many of my coworkers.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? No.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? Living in Washington, DC, I had access to several solid in-person programs. Cost and flexibility were the main factors that drove me to choose an online option. I knew that attending in-person classes, in addition to working a demanding campaign schedule, would be almost impossible. However, taking classes online allowed me to work and still make progress towards graduation.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: 12

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to help build something. Whether it’s a young business just getting started or a nonprofit with goals for changing the world, I want to work as part of a team to build a thriving, effective organization. I enjoy tackling the new challenges and unforeseen bumps in the road that come with building something from the ground up. With my real-world experience and now my formal MBA training, I feel more prepared than ever to do just that.


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