2024 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Samantha Choy, Indiana University (Kelley)

Samantha Choy

Kelley Direct Online MBA Program, Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business

“Resilient leader with an unwavering commitment to growth and passion for connecting with others.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Originally: Orlando, Florida. Currently: Bayonne, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: I have been a lifelong baker, and my senior superlative was “Future Betty Crocker.” During COVID, like many others, I found more time to do what I love, bake. I experimented with breads, pastries, and pies. I went through a French baking phase where I ended up making hundreds of macarons. I spent hours sifting almond flour, whisking egg whites and sitting in front of my oven closely watching the feet of my macarons to ensure the perfect outcome. I ended up flying a whole suitcase of macarons down to Florida for my sister-in-law’s baby shower and built an 8-layer macaron tower consisting of 6 different flavors for her and all her guests!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Florida Warrington College of Business, Bachelor of Science Business Administration – Finance & Bachelor of Science – Psychology

Where are you currently working? JP Morgan Chase & Co., Corporate & Investment Bank Securities Services, Pricing Strategy Vice President

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I am most proud of in my professional career would be navigating a promotion year while pregnant and simultaneously completing my MBA a term early. This accomplishment stands as a testament to my unparalleled determination and resilience in the face of conflicting priorities. Balancing the demands of advancing my career in a highly competitive industry, paired with the physical and academic rigors of pregnancy and higher education, showcases my unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth.

Being put up for a promotion came with a set of challenges, including securing the correct platform, networking with key stakeholders, and ensuring my performance was unquestionable. While the days were long, I am proud to say my hard work paid off with my first child being born in early January, my promotion being announced at the end of January, and my completion of my MBA in early February (talk about starting off 2024 with a bang).

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose an online MBA program at Indiana University for its prestigious Kelley School of Business. The Kelley Direct program offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing students to pursue their MBA without disrupting their careers or personal lives. With a rigorous curriculum taught by esteemed faculty, access to a vast alumni network, and in-person opportunities (i.e., Kelley On Campus, Kelley on Location & Global Immersions), IU’s online MBA program provides a quality education and valuable resources for professional growth. Additionally, IU’s reputation as a top-ranked business school enhances graduates’ marketability and opens doors to diverse career opportunities.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? It is between the flexibility the program has to offer and the diversity of individuals in each of my classes. The program truly worked harmoniously with my life, and I did not feel for a second that I had to sacrifice my professional or personal life in order to complete my MBA. As for the people, they are all wonderful; from the faculty, staff, students, and alumni, I could not have asked for a better network. My classmates came from all industries with backgrounds in manufacturing, operations, finance, military, sales, engineering, computer science, and marketing. Each individual brought a fresh perspective to class, everyone was actively engaged, and the professors truly cared about each and every one of their students.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised at how connected I felt to my classmates, even though we were all online and thousands of miles apart. Between the group chats, team assignments and surprise visits from everyone’s kids on our team meetings, I felt like I really got to know my classmates on a deeper level than I had expected. It was a surreal moment when we all finally got to meet each other in person at Kelley On Campus, Kelley on Location and during the Global Immersion. It was like meeting old friends.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I think my undergraduate experience was full of “studying for the exam” and figuring out where you fell on the grading curve. An MBA, especially online, is all about learning from each other and not so much about trying to be in the top 10% of the class. As online students, we are all striving to complete an MBA while balancing everything else life has in store for us. My classmates were much more focused on sharing knowledge and applying what we learned in class to their current work situation and less worried about if the answer to question 30 on the final exam was A or D. It was extremely refreshing to have more open dialogue and be able to bounce ideas off other working professionals.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? “Do as I say, not as I do; try not to rush through it; it’s not a race but a journey.” While I did not feel like I lost out on education or my personal and professional life, I do think taking extra classes every few terms limited my options because some classes are only offered in specific terms. My goal was to complete my MBA, get my promotion, and have my child all around the same time to make the most of the time I had before parental leave. However, I would recommend taking the time you need to take the classes you truly want.

While I was able to take my preferred classes most terms, there are a few classes I wish I had held out for because of all the rave reviews my classmates had about the content and the professors.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? I was able to take what I was learning in class and apply it in real-time to any work situation I was facing. I could take any results back to class the following week to discuss, brainstorm, and seek solutions with my peers in a completely safe space. I was able to learn how my peers with more experience or in different industries would handle different situations. I also received feedback about how I was going about the problems I was facing or changes I was trying to implement.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? I earned a promotion right as I was completing my MBA. I went from senior associate to vice president.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? This goes back to the flexibility. As a woman in finance, I personally find it difficult to “put my career on pause” to pursue “other life ventures.” While we have made great strides as an industry, it can still be difficult to get ahead if you aren’t competing neck-and-neck with your peers. Pursuing an MBA would have given me a leg up in general, but leaving for a full-time residential program did not make sense for my current career path and my family planning.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: This varies term to term depending on number of classes I took but it could vary between 10 – 20 hours a week.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am passionate about strategy and problem solving. I have held a few roles on internal strategy teams and continue to pursue roles with similar scope. I enjoy building out the future state of business, developing implementation plans and improving processes. Being industry agnostic, I hope to lead a strategy/consulting team one day and help companies push forward and find efficiencies.


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