2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Eric Scott, University of Illinois (Gies)

Eric Scott

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign – Gies College of Business iMBA

“Ambitious, Ted Lasso-like leader with empathy, sense of humor, and self-accountability.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

Fun fact about yourself: When I was the Director of Public Relations for a professional soccer team, I once stopped a shot as goalkeeper from a former Colombian national teamer during the annual staff soccer game … just before dislocated my left shoulder.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Northern Colorado, BA, Journalism – Public Relations

Where are you currently working? MDM Commercial, Chief Marketing Officer

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Though there are many things of which I am proud in my diverse career, I will stick with recency bias. I have transformed the marketing strategy and tactics of my current company to have a heavy focus on digital, in addition to leading the charge into new, lucrative verticals while holding our majority market share in existing verticals. This direction has led to record company revenue and lead generation.  

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Aside from the incredible value, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a first-class institution. I wanted a challenge from one of the best programs in the world. Gies College of Business is the pioneer in online graduate education, which is evident with the dedicated top-notch faculty and infrastructure tailored to deliver the best possible experience for the student.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? As someone with a demanding schedule due to career and family commitments, an online program offers more flexibility than a traditional on-campus setting. Additionally, I like that I am not limited by geography in building my professional network. I have increased my network exponentially and made lifelong friends from across the United States and world.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was so pleasantly surprised with how well my program engages online students and how it makes you feel physically present for the live sessions. I honestly feel even more connected to the University of Illinois than I do my undergraduate institution.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? It felt like a much more efficient and rewarding overall experience. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in 2005, so certainly the technological advances have played a major role in that.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Just because the program is online does not mean you cannot immerse yourself. Soak everything in and take every opportunity to engage in activities beyond just class. If your program has its own social network like mine (Workplace), be active on it. If there are student-led events in your region or any on-campus events hosted by the school, attend them. Attend every webinar you can. Go to office hours. My experience has been that much better because I networked every chance I had and also served in student leadership capacities.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? It is not so much change as it is evolve; add more specialization options to the curriculum. I think this should be done with the ever-changing business landscape in mind and be proactive in identifying future demand for certain specializations.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Beyond aiding me in advancing my career, it has helped me become a better leader and strategist. I have been able to immediately implement things I have learned to not only improve my area of responsibilities but also improve other areas of the company.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? Yes, I was promoted from Director of Marketing to Chief Marketing Officer a year and a half into the program.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? As a father of two young children with an established career, a full-time residential program was not a realistic option for me. I needed flexibility so I could have balance. I had considered a full-time residential program much earlier in my career; however, I wanted to continue gaining experience in the field.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: 15-20

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I plan to become a CEO or successful business owner within the next 10 years.


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