2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Gary D. Fleischer, Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Gary D. Fleischer

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“I am a former Army officer and a full-time father and orthopedic spine surgeon.”

Age: 55


Currently: Raleigh, NC

Originally: Pittsburgh, PA

Fun fact about yourself: My daughter is a Naval midshipman at Carnegie Mellon, and we will get to commission her as an ensign and then graduate together from the University.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Princeton University, BSE in Computer Engineering and Certificate in East Asian Studies; Tufts University School of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine

Where are you currently working? Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic Raleigh, NC – Partner and Orthopedic Spine Surgeon.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my time as the commander of a forward surgical team and deputy commander of a combat support hospital in the United States Army. As an Army surgeon, these leadership positions allowed me to serve in both my role as a doctor, taking care of patients, and my role as an officer, supporting soldiers in their selfless service and sacrifice. I could not have asked for a better way to merge my vocation and my calling.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? As a scientist, I felt that the Tepper School of Business has the right balance of quantitative and qualitative aspects to its program. Not only is it one of very top programs in the country, but its considered integration of science and behavior into the curriculum allows for the thought-provoking application of evidence and research based materials to the humanistic aspects of management and leadership. I also made a conscious choice to pursue the full MBA experience, and Tepper does not create a lighter or different course load for the online students. They get the same rigorous MBA experience as the full-time students.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The online program allows me to manage my time so that I can respect my full-time work commitments, while getting the most possible learning out of the MBA program. The online format essentially creates unlimited opportunities to interact with the faculty and peers and makes virtual office hours infinitely available. It also creates a great mix of classmates, who are all actively involved in interesting jobs that bring fascinating insights to every discussion.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised at how much interaction we had as a student body. Understanding that one aspect of business school is to develop relationships with future peers, I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality and quantity of meaningful friendships that I was able to create with my classmates.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My undergraduate in-class experience was quite a long time ago, but I do have some more contemporary experience as a teacher and professor. I found that the online format creates a more interactive and less didactic classroom environment. I think the virtual environment of classes focuses the participants on being even more engaged than in traditional lectures in lecture halls.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Because of the excellent virtual class experience, I would take advantage of the several live, face-to-face, weekends to pursue even more relationship and network-building events and de-emphasize class work to jumpstart each semester. That rigorous work will come in the classes, but building relationships is also an important part of business school that could be made even better by devoting more in person time to it.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? If entrepreneurship is trying to make the world as it should be, the MBA program has really helped me to understand the important role of entrepreneurship in making my practice and the practice of medicine better. It has also helped me to understand and navigate the interface and market forces between clinical medicine and industry.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? No, but I did get involved in many systems wide initiatives to start to transform the delivery of care.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? As a practicing spine surgeon, it was not practical or even feasible for me to take time away from my practice or patients to enroll in a full-time program. An online program allowed me to get everything that I wanted out of my MBA experience without compromising on my full-time responsibilities.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: 10-15 hours

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to use the skills that I have learned and the experience that I have acquired to become more involved is developing and implementing healthcare policy.


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