2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Guillermo Villa, University of Cincinnati (Lindner)

Guillermo Villa

Carl H. Lindner College of Business, University of Cincinnati

“Director at Johnson & Johnson, community service leader, family man, and mentor to our next generation.”

Age: 47

Hometown: El Paso, TX

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve worked in 2 different countries and 6 different states.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Texas at El Paso, Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. University of Cincinnati, MBA.

Where are you currently working? Johnson & Johnson, Director: Product Lifecycle Management

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Developing the next generation of engineers and leaders, both in and outside of my organization. Seeing others succeed has been very gratifying. I long for the day that one of the people that I mentor becomes my supervisor. 

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? The University of Cincinnati offered a comprehensive MBA program that allowed me to engage in a classroom setting, should I choose to do so. This flexibility was important to me, as it gave me the opportunity to experience this process in different educational settings.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The UC MBA program was very well-structured. I enjoyed the curriculum, the various electives available, and the ability to personally engage with classmates and my professors even with the remote nature of the program.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised at how well some of our professors made our class size feel small and intimate given that some of the classes included over 100 students in a remote setting. There were professors that were very skilled at ensuring students were engaged in the class and that teams were formed to foster relationships with my classmates.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? It was unique. In-person learning is great, since you can physically connect with teachers and classmates but has less flexibility. Online learning allows you much more flexibility, but requires a different level of discipline.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Most online courses don’t require the student to attend a lecture or force you to engage in physical group work. The best advice I can give to an applicant is to establish a discipline and ensure that he/she is well organized. All the information that is needed is available in the documents and postings provided by each professor.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The biggest opportunity with an online MBA program is finding ways to ensure that students are engaged and working collectively to solve problems. MBA programs typically require more teamwork and student interaction than undergraduate programs. A successful online program drives that collaboration amongst classmates, as much of the learning comes from each of our experiences outside of the classroom. At UC, the online MBA program is excellent. However, there were some professors who were much more successful than others at driving both student engagement and collaboration.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The material I learned was excellent and very applicable to many things I do at work. I manage large capital projects where I frequently put together business cases and calculate things like NPV and IRR. My courses were excellent at helping me understand many of those nuances. As an engineer, I feel more prepared than ever to develop these types of business cases and engage in meaningful conversations with many of our commercial leaders including our finance, marketing, and sales organizations.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? No, I did not. However, I will likely be promoted this year to a new role.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? An online MBA program gave me the flexibility I needed with my work and my personal life. Work can be demanding at times, especially with frequent travel. There were semesters where it would have been very difficult to attend a physical class. In my personal life, engaging in my children’s lives and serving my community in various roles also required a level of flexibility that would not have been provided by a residential program.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: This is a difficult question to answer. Some courses, like accounting and finance for example, required a significant amount of time. I could easily spend more than 40 hours per week working through those classes. Others were less demanding, such as some of my electives for example. On average, I would estimate that I spent about 30 hours per week on my online MBA program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to continue to grow professionally and attain a senior leadership role in my organization. This can be in the form of a Vice President or Chief Officer position for one of our operating companies or departments. My MBA will give me an advantage over other candidates seeking those same roles.


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