Monday, March 22, 2010

Networking Reception with Louis Jordan & Wayne Winston

Kelley Direct students always talk about the sense of community they feel in the program. I have found that it extends beyond just the distance MBA program. I have enjoyed being part of the Kelley School of Business community. I try to attend any Indiana University or Kelley School of Business activity that is held in my home town of Seattle.

I had the opportunity to attend a Kelley School of Business alumni networking event last week hosted by Louis Jordan and featuring Wayne Winston. Mr. Jordan earned an MBA in finance from the Kelley School in 1980 and has had a distinguished career in finance. He currently serves as Senior Vice President – Finance for Starbucks Coffee Company. Dr. Winston is a professor of Operations and Decision Technologies at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

I enjoyed the event. It was fun to see how many Kelley School alumni currently live in the Seattle area. It was also inspiring to hear Mr. Jordan speak. The highlight of the evening was Professor Winston. I had followed him on Twitter and I occasionally check out his web site, to see how he uses math and metrics to predict the winner of sporting events.

Several of the people in attendance at the event had attended Professor Winston's MBA classes as students. It was interesting to see how beloved he is by his former students.

As if the evening wasn't exciting enough, I won a copy of Professor Winston's book, Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football. Professor Winston even signed the book for me. I look forward to reading it, but I won't have time until the current quarter ends. I have more than enough to read right now for my Marketing, Operations, and Supply-Chain Management classes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Decision

I can honestly say that I love the path I am on right now. For me, getting my MBA and MSSM while working full-time just makes sense. It is so rewarding to know that I am gaining marketable and practical skills on an almost daily basis and that I can apply these skills immediately to my current position. However, I have to admit that up until about 1.5 years ago, getting an MBA was never one of my goals. In fact, I never even considered it. The thought never crossed my mind. And then one day it did.

Now that I am in this distance learning MBA program, the decision seems so obvious. But this wasn't always the case. It took me awhile and quite a few different experiences to fully realize my passion for managing projects and cross-functional teams, developing new products, and working with intelligent people to solve difficult problems. I also realized that while I didn’t want my lack of a business degree to limit my career (I have a B.S. in biology), I didn’t want to become a full-time student again. When I found out that flexible MBA programs exist and that I could earn my degree from a top university without having to quit my job or move, I was sold.

Within a 3 month period, I decided that I was going to get my MBA, took the GMAT, researched schools, applied, and got accepted. During this whole process, I knew that if I was going to make the investment (time and money), I wanted to go to the best school possible. So, when I got into Kelley, there was nothing left to decide. I had the chance to attend a top business school without putting my career on hold, and I was going to take it. I was going to become a Hoosier.

Now it's one year later. My time as an MBA student has flown by. So far the experience has been challenging, fun, frustrating, rewarding, exhausting, inspiring, and more - all the things that you would except to feel when you do something worthwhile. And this most certainly is worthwhile.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hey, Kelley Direct!!

Hey Kelley Direct!!

I hope this blog finds you well. My name is Emery Jordan, and I am a first year student in the Master of Business Administration/Masters of Strategy Management program. I, actually, also work at Indiana University in the department of Residential Programs and Services as a Residence Manager. In this role, I directly and/or indirectly supervisor close to 40 people, a budget of $4 million, and creating a positive healthy living environment for the residents of my area.

I actually already have Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, along with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I decided to go back to get my MBA at Kelley for a few reasons. First, I had always dreamed of getting an MBA – but my career path dictated a different initial Master’s degree. Since I worked at one of the best MBA granting institution in the country – I figured it was a no brainer to try to get on from here.

Second, the online KD program is really convenient for my lifestyle. I am also married with two wonderful children – Jalen (2 years old) and Gabriella (11 months old). So, having the flexibility to do work at my own pace during a week was extremely important. Moreover, my job is very time demanding at different times of the year for long stretches – so the added flexibility was a necessity.

Finally, I really believe that getting an MBA would help me in any career that I was interested in. Working in higher education now, it gives me a great foundation for understanding how to apply business principles in this field. While the natural ties between the business world and higher education are hidden, we are work with millions of dollars, plan for the long term future of an organization, and/or deal with supervision of several people and groups of people, among other things – all business issues. Moreover, I really loved the options that it gave me for working outside of the field of higher education. I am really starting to understand myself and my interests much better through the lens of this experience.

Outside of MBA stuff, I am an avid reader and athlete. I especially love weightlifting and basketball – they do a good job of helping me work off some of the desserts that I love to eat. As for reading, I love business management texts – and I’m sure that I talk about them a lot in the blog, I’m always reading something.

Well, this is my first ever blog and it was fun. I look forward to sharing my experience with you all out there in internet land…

Catch you later, KD.

The First Bill

Nothing can really prepare you for the first bill you get when finally start your MBA program. It is a time of thoughtful reflection for sure as you work through the loan paperwork or dip into hard earned savings. However, as I was recently paying that first bill of mine, I realized that my experience in Kelley Direct was already starting to pay off.

After a very long, but engaging week at my first in-residence (C511 Organizational Development and Change), I returned to work to find a number of projects and assignments in a state of disarray, including a very large project where I am the technical adviser and a key stakeholder. Initially dismayed at missing a week and seeing such an important project fall even further behind, I met with some other members of the steering committee to see what needed to be done to get things back on track. As we began to discuss the issues, it was quite an exciting feeling to realize that the tactics and strategies I had just learned about from Prof. Sheri Fella were very applicable to my current dilemma. And, instead of continuing down what would very likely have been a path of failure, I was able to apply the techniques Prof. Fella had shared with us to the change process this project was trying to manage. Long story short, instead of weeks, even months, of fruitless work, mounting frustrations, and loss of interest, I was able to diagnose and recommend actions that have immediately put the project back on track, renewed interest and energized the project team, saving us a significant amount of time and money.

Why was I able to have this impact? At Kelley Direct, you learn from the best faculty of any business university online. Not only do they really know the academic side of business, but they have amazing real world experience. Sure, I could have chosen another part time MBA college at a fraction of the cost and likely have covered the same theories and subject matter. But world-class faculty make a difference, and that is where Kelley Direct has really distinguished themselves from other online MBA colleges. Prof. Fella was not only one of the most engaging instructors I have ever had, she was excellent at making sure we all understood how to take the material she was presenting and turn it into something concrete and actionable. Being able to immediately act on what you are learning is definitely key to making it pay, and is why I am glad I chose Kelley Direct. Plus, paying that first bill was a lot easier knowing that I had already used what I had learned to save my organization time and money, earning some much valued career credits along the way.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Workload at Kelley Direct

My grandfather recently posed a question to me in an email. He wrote:

I would like to hear about the program for your Master Business Administration degree. My experience in grad school was that many of the professors felt that their course was the only one we took so they seemed to load us up on things to do outside class. This is not a problem for you? What do you experience?

I don't know about other Online MBA Universities, but I would say that the faculty completely respects our time. As a distance learning program, 100 percent of the students in my cohort have full-time jobs (in addition to spouses, children, pets, hobbies, etc). The faculty seems to understand the competing demands in our lives. Through the technology we use, the professors routinely poll us as to the best time to conduct virtual office hours or conduct live lectures.

So do they ‘load up’ on us? Only to the point where we learn the material. Many of the classes have group assignments so we can ‘divide and conquer’ and rely on each other’s skill sets to enhance our learning. For example, I just got off of a video conference call with my Econ C530 group and one of my team members is a financial analyst. He led the discussion on net present value and answered many the group’s questions. I believe the three of us would have struggled had it not been for the fourth’s subject matter expertise.

The professors themselves are available anytime through email (with a response time between two and 24 hours). My econ professor offered to meet with me in person (as I am local to Indianapolis) should I have trouble with some of the concepts (and by concepts I mean calculus … what is a derivative of a function, you ask? Me, too).

So far, I have been completely satisfied with the workload in my first two classes. I am feel that I will be able to earn my business degree online without sacrificing my family or work.