2023 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Wing Pokrywka, University of Maryland (Smith)

Wing Pokrywka

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business

“Ambitious, motivated, and genuine individual committed to personal and professional excellence.”

Age: 37

Hometown: Rockville, MD; Hong Kong

Fun fact about yourself: I love to travel and have visited 26 countries.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Salisbury University

Where are you currently working? Senior Marketing Manager at Instacart

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My professional journey has been marked by a constant drive to learn and explore new opportunities. From my humble beginnings in Hong Kong to pursuing education by myself in the U.S. at age 15, I have consistently sought out new challenges and opportunities to expand my horizons. My greatest sense of accomplishment has come from my growth as a leader and a valued contributor within the organizations I worked at. Throughout my professional career, I have formed effective go-to-market strategies for one the largest global grocery retailers and launched its brand in the U.S., developing, and executing Connected Stores marketing strategies for Instacart. I am extremely proud to be able to help create a world where everyone has access to the food they love.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Applying to an MBA program at the onset of the pandemic, while balancing the responsibilities of being a full-time working professional, wife and mother of an 18-month-old, was a challenging task. I needed an MBA program that could fit into my busy schedule and offer me the flexibility to balance my professional and personal commitments. The University of Maryland’s online MBA program was the perfect fit for me, given its academic reputation and its ability to provide a virtual learning experience that is comparable to the in-person experience. I also wanted the opportunity to network with students, alumni, and professors that were not limited to my geographic location in a global setting.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? One of my favorite aspects of being in an online MBA program was the flexibility it provided me. Another aspect that I really enjoyed was the opportunity to collaborate and network with other professionals from all around the world. This program allowed me to meet some of the most talented individuals while developing great friendships along the way. The online MBA program attracted a diverse range of students, each with their own unique perspectives and experiences, which made for some truly enriching class discussions and group projects.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? One of the most surprising things about an online learning environment was how effectively it was able to replicate the experience of an in-person classroom. Prior to enrolling in an online MBA program, I had some concerns about how engaging and interactive the virtual classroom experience would be. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the online platform was incredibly dynamic, with a variety of multimedia tools and interactive features that kept me engaged and connected with my peers and professors. Also, the collaborative tools and frequent group projects made collaboration and teamwork very easily achievable.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I found that my online experience was very comparable to my in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student. Similar to in-person learning, online experience requires active participation, critical thinking, and collaboration with classmates to maximize learning. The one difference was that I found the online learning environment requires a greater degree of self-motivation and discipline than I had experienced in the classroom.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Given my experience, I think being committed to staying organized, prioritizing school work, staying engaged, and being self-motivated is crucial to success in an online MBA program.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? As the world emerges from the pandemic, I believe online MBA programs have a unique opportunity to enhance student experience by creating more opportunities for face-to-face interactions, which would further enhance the benefits of an online MBA program.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The Smith online MBA program allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of various business concepts and practices that are relevant to my job responsibilities. Having a solid grasp of finance has enabled me to better understand the financial implications of my marketing decisions and ensure that my campaigns are cost-effective and aligned with overall business objectives. Gaining a deeper understanding of data analytics also helped me make more informed decisions and optimize marketing campaigns and be able to collaborate with data scientists better. In addition, the flexibility to attend class and work on assignments without having to commute is a huge benefit to me.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? While in the program, I joined Instacart in May 2022 as a Senior Marketing Manager.

 Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I opted for an online MBA program due to the pandemic and the flexibility it provides to achieve my educational and career goals at a reputable institution.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: Depending on the class, I spend between 10-20 hours per week.

 What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to continue to advance my career in the marketing field by applying the knowledge and skills I’ve gained through the online MBA program. My dream is to eventually start my own business in the marketing industry, and I believe the experience and education I’ve gained through this program will be invaluable in achieving that goal. I hope to combine my entrepreneurial spirit with the strategic thinking and business acumen I’ve developed to create a successful and impactful business venture.



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