2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Ta’Sheema Taylor, USC (Marshall)

Ta’Sheema Taylor

USC Marshall School of Business, OMBA

“Engineering leader passionate about delivering innovation and making technical roles accessible & sustainable for Black Engineers.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Richmond California

Fun fact about yourself:  When I need a mood booster I “remix” popular music. This can be anything from clapping or dancing off beat, singing the song in the wrong key or rapping incorrect lyrics intentionally. Being silly or going against the grain is freeing and rejuvenating for me.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California at Davis. Bachelors of Science in Biological Systems Engineering and African & African American Studies.

Where are you currently working? Senior Manager New Product Introduction, Johnson & Johnson

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of being the Co-Founder of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Healthcare Innovation Special Interest Group (HISIG). At the start of my career, I rarely came across other black engineers in my industry. Since the creation of HISIG in 2016, membership has grown to over 7,500 engineers of color interested in the MedTech & Pharmaceutical industry. In addition, HISIG has established multiple strategic partnerships with industry leading companies, top academic institutions, and industry specific societies. All of these have led to hundreds of black students and early career professionals gaining access to internships, graduate level education, professional development, job placements, and formalized mentorship to ensure success and longevity in the industry

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose OMBA over other programs because of its flexibility combined with the residential week experience. Due to my demanding career and work travel, meeting in-person requirements of other program types was not realistic. OMBA provided the flexibility I needed for work without compromising the quality of the curriculum or the student experience. Specifically, the residential week eliminated my concerns about making authentic connections with my peers, professors, and program staff by providing the same in-person experience of as other programs. In addition, living on campus allowed me to develop authentic relationships with my cohort as well as students from different Cohorts and Marshall programs

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? The Flexibility that came with combining Asynchronous and Synchronous learning. The Asynchronous learning gave me the flexibility to complete lectures and assignments around my work and personal life demands.  While the weekly online synchronous learning and office hours gave me the flexibility to attend classes and get additional help from my professors from anywhere in the world.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment?  I was most surprised by the rigor of the program. The program was fast-paced, academically challenging and current. On a weekly basis, the program required completion of various types of assignments, exams, presentations, and group projects that required online collaboration with peers. In addition, my peers were extremely talented and intelligent, which pushed me to bring my best efforts to group and individual assignments. Finally, the professors did a great job with pivoting to keep the material current by using real time events in their lectures and weekly assignments.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? The only thing I would change about the online program is how the capstone project in delivered. Currently, the capstone is a written report with no presentation. In today’s world, critical business recommendations are accompanied by an oral presentation not just a report. As such I think the capstone should have been a virtual case competition (like the one we did to conclude residential week). This would have been a great way to showcase the technical knowledge we gained throughout the program and demonstrate the communications skills we learned about giving persuasive presentations in virtual settings.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? It developed my business acumen by helping me understand how firms operate and the impact of decisions on operations, profitability, and reputation. It also strengthened my critical thinking, communication, data analytics and operations management skills. Most importantly, I have been able to apply the coursework to my work which has enhanced my ability to deliver business critical results, led to higher performance ratings, and a more senior role.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? When I started the program, I was an Engineering Program Manager responsible for transferring the manufacturing of medical devices to different facilities. My current role is a Senior Manager role that includes responsibilities from my previous role plus an expanded scope. With my expanded scope, I am responsible for leading teams through global launch activities, supply chain readiness and post market technical changes for new medical devices.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I decided to pursue an online program because I was a new manager and realized that I needed to enhance my business acumen to be successful in my role and competitive for future opportunities. As such, I needed a program that would allow me to continue working full time so I could develop my business competencies and accelerate my transition into a director level role.

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

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to become an Engineering leader at the executive level for an industry leading company in the MedTech space, as well as a board member of a publicly traded MedTech or Pharmaceutical Company.

When I applied to Marshall, I was in a role that required a lot of international travel. This made it difficult for me to meet the in-person requirements of most EMBA programs. However, I was also concerned about the OMBA format not being conducive to making real connections with my peers, professors, or program staff.


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