2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Janise Brooks, Baylor University (Hankamer)

Janise Brooks

Baylor University Online MBA Program

“Passionate curious and driven individual with a creative mindset and a heart to lead others.”

Age: 49

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Fun fact about yourself: As a mom of two children, I’ve been blessed with many adventures, including numerous trips to Italy, my husband’s native country. Now that I’m an empty nester, I’ve been indulging my curiosities by pursuing another Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology and listening to podcasts covering many eclectic topics. The world of knowledge is truly never-ending, and I enjoy exploring new subjects and learning in everything that I do.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Phoenix, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Where are you currently working? PAX Financial Group, Chief Operating Officer

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m proud to have self-taught and implemented Salesforce and other wonderful technology throughout my company to achieve successful growth over the past decade. By establishing system foundations, our team can operate efficiently and pivot with our evolving business needs. This efficiency allows us to invest more time in people and see them flourish personally and professionally. It’s gratifying to watch our team members thrive and develop within a culture that supports their success and empowers them to be their best so they in turn can empower our clients and help them meet their goals and dreams.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Baylor University has a strong reputation. It is highly regarded with high-quality professors and curriculum. What appealed to me most about Baylor’s online MBA program was that the professors were the same as those who teach on campus, rather than adjunct professors. This ensured that the program was of the same caliber as their in-person classes. I am happy to report that I found the online format did not compromise Baylor’s education, and that the professors were amazing teachers and people who surpassed my expectations.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I found the weekly office hours with the professors to be an invaluable part of the program. Throughout the entire program, I only missed two of these office hours because I found them helpful and enjoyable. These sessions not only provided an opportunity to review course materials but also allowed me to get to know the professors more personally and gain greater insight into the art behind the business principles. I’m grateful for the time and attention the professors gave to these sessions, which helped me to excel in the program and grow as a professional.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was pleasantly surprised by the many group projects in the online learning environment at Baylor. Despite the condensed program and busy schedules of the students, Baylor successfully incorporated group projects into the curriculum. They offered dynamic simulations that closely mirrored real-life scenarios and situations. Through these projects, I developed deep friendships with several of my classmates, and was impressed by the respectful, smart, friendly, and responsible nature of every classmate I worked with. This speaks to the high caliber of students who attend Baylor which made the online learning experience even more rewarding.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? In my undergraduate experience, more face-to-face interaction with professors and peers allowed for more immediate feedback and collaboration. However, that was over 25 years ago!  In the online environment, I appreciated the flexibility and convenience of completing coursework on my own schedule. I also found that the online discussions and group projects allowed for deeper engagement and connection with classmates, despite not being in the same physical location. Overall, while there were differences between the two experiences, I found both to be valuable and rewarding in their own ways.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Success in an online MBA program requires self-motivation and effective time management skills. Additionally, a collaborative mindset is important for gaining as much as possible from the experience. I encourage you to reach out to your classmates, participate actively in discussions, and contribute to group projects. Don’t be passive – jump in passionately and take advantage of all that the program has to offer.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with my experience at Baylor. The curriculum, professors, and online learning platform were all exceptional. If there is one thing, I would have liked to see more of were opportunities for in-person gatherings on campus. While the online format was convenient, I believe that more face-to-face interactions would be valuable for building connections with classmates and more networking opportunities. However, I understand that students attend worldwide, which may make in-person gatherings difficult to coordinate.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Obtaining my MBA significantly impacted my professional skill and abilities. It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost everything I learned in the program has been directly applicable to my current role.  As a result, I’ve been able to contribute more to my company’s growth and share my knowledge with my team to help them grow. As a leader, I feel a responsibility to continue growing and developing to keep pace with the organization’s demand. The knowledge I gained through the MBA program has been invaluable and inspired me to continue seeking new opportunities for expansion.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? I was already serving as COO of my organization when I pursued my MBA, so I did not earn a promotion upon graduation. However, the MBA program gave me a deeper understanding of business strategy, management principles, and financial analysis, enabling me to make more informed decisions and lead with greater confidence.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I had already achieved significant success in my company and wanted to ensure that pursuing an MBA would not jeopardize that in any way. For that reason, I decided to pursue my degree through an online program that allowed me the flexibility to continue working full-time while pursuing my education. Ultimately, the online format allowed me to balance my professional and academic responsibilities without sacrificing either, and I could continue excelling in my current role while also expanding my skills and knowledge through the MBA program.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: Approximately 20 hours a week.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to lead my company to reach 1 billion in assets under management while prioritizing out employee’s growth and development. I believe that investing in our team members and providing them with challenging, fulfilling, and enjoyable work is critical to achieving this goal. To further support our employees’ professional growth, I plan to complete a Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, which will allow me to understand better the dynamics of workplace behavior and the science of human performance. Ultimately, I hope to create a company culture that drives business success, and helps our employees be better in all that they do. When my time as COO comes to an end, I hope to share my knowledge by working with other small businesses.


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