A few years ago, I faced a crucial decision in my career. I wanted to expand my role into realms outside of supply chain to position myself for a full P&L role in the future. I knew an MBA would help me gain the strategic thinking required to apply methodologies I would learn into real business problems for my company and I wanted to utilize those hands-on skills within my role.
However, I needed a program that provided flexibility in terms of timing, because my role was subject to change and I didn’t want to be stuck in a rigid program if I had to pause and refocus on my career.
I extensively researched online and part-time MBAs and ultimately found that the Kelley Direct Online MBA was the best fit for me. It provided the requisite flexibility, the ability to interact with other students throughout the curriculum, and competitive pricing compared to other programs.
The program exceeded all of my expectations. I remained fully employed in a high-level role while attending all classes because of many options for participation and created meaningful relationships with other students. It certainly helped that my wife was also in a post-graduate program, but I spent many of my lunches, evenings, and weekends doing schoolwork and planning my weeks accordingly. I also tried to load the tougher courses in the winter sessions since I had more time inside thanks to Minneapolis winters.
During my time in the MBA program, I received a promotion from senior manager to director. Two years after graduating, I achieved my ultimate goal – I am now the General Manager of PMI Feed Additives (part of our Animal Nutrition business portfolio) at Land O’ Lakes. I manage the P&L and our strategic path forward. This includes oversight of our innovation pipeline, R&D, marketing, and sales teams. We also recently signed a large global distribution and marketing agreement with Royal Agrifirm Group, a company based in the Netherlands, and I help manage that partnership across all regions.
This all happened faster than I imagined. The most valuable thing I learned through the Kelley Direct program was how to apply various methods to real business problems. For example, I participated in a global immersion during which my team applied the concepts we learned during the year to create a viable business in India. Launching a new product in a market I had no experience in was interesting and a process I am applying in my new role as we look to launch products in many new countries through our global partnership.
The team projects also contributed significantly to my education and the strength of my network. Group projects are a great way to meet people despite the fact that in many instances, we had students in every time zone you could imagine. I also disconnected from work completely when I was on campus or in India to optimize the in-person networking opportunities.
As cliche as it sounds, the people are what set the Kelley Direct Online MBA apart from other programs. The students, professors, faculty, and staff are all extremely passionate individuals who prioritize learning and supporting one another above all else. Their compassion for one another’s circumstances – balancing work, life, and school – is unmatched and I always felt that I would be successful because of this underlying empathy we had for one another.