I received my Kelley Coin for being a member of the winning team from the first Kelley Connect Week in Summer 2020: Navigating a COVID-19 World. Several weeks of learning from experts about the challenges of the pandemic and certain business implications culminated in a 72-hour entrepreneurial idea sprint. Each team was tasked with developing a novel solution to a COVID-related problem, creating a minimum viable product (MVP), validating the solution and MVP with data from potential customer groups, and developing a crowdfunding-style video pitch. I was exhausted by the end of the weekend blitz, but it was thrilling to solve real-world problems and develop a solution that could truly make a difference.
My teammate – inspired by his own experience with uncomfortable surgical masks in his healthcare field – came up with a brilliant solution to develop an innovative mask that would circulate cool air. My team and I solved the challenge by taking the time to get to know one another and learn about each other’s backgrounds and strengths, which built the trust necessary to be open about our gaps. In the end, it all came together in an amazing, winning video pitch, because six people chose to trust each other, rather than be consumed by the challenging experience.
Several faculty members served as mentors, guides, and coaches throughout the experience, including Dr. Regan Stevenson, Dr. Will Geoghegan, and Dr. Greg Fisher. They taught us how to think like entrepreneurs, including how to define a problem; identify and target a well-defined market impacted by that problem; and use the information gleaned from that focus to identify growth opportunities. They showed us how to view everything – risks, roadblocks, and setbacks – as opportunities to progress and move forward.
Throughout the whole Kelley Direct Online MBA program, the faculty were exceptional. They built a virtual classroom that was as close to the real thing as possible. Sure the classes were online, but it didn’t feel that way. The faculty fostered robust debate, engaged with students, and empowered students to speak up and be heard. They wanted us to reach our potential and did everything they could to make that happen – being available outside of class to answer questions, take deeper dives into concepts, chat about careers and goals, whatever they could to enable our success, even after our time at Kelley comes to an end.
As I approach graduation, the Kelley Coin stands as a symbol of strength, resiliency, and perseverance, and the knowledge that embodying the values of Kelley means I can overcome all obstacles and accomplish anything. I am eternally grateful for my time in the Kelley program, for every connection I made, every group I was a part of, every professor, and even every test and paper. My time at Kelley was brief, but its impact will last a lifetime. If you’re looking for a similar impact, I encourage you to visit the Kelley Direct website and uncover what an Online MBA can do for you.