Student Case Studies
Student Case Studies
Success Stories From the Online MBA
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Online MBA Student Q&A

Every Online MBA student at William & Mary brings their own background, perspective and approach to the program, and the journey each one undergoes in their time at W&M is uniquely fulfilling. From the first moment they choose the “wicked problem” they’ll track throughout their coursework to their final culminating “Tribe Talk” in the Revolutionary Leader Practicum, our students transform and grow in impressive—and sometimes surprising—ways.

To give you a sense of the diversity of experiences that are possible in the Online MBA program, we’ve asked seven of our students to share their stories. Click on the photos below to read about what drew these students to the Online MBA program and how it is making a difference in their lives and careers.

Dion Panther

Role:
Assistant Vice President

Company:
Cigna

Location:
Cambria Heights, NY


Why did you choose William & Mary’s Online MBA program?
What really helped me decide on William & Mary’s program was their online webinar that went through all of the school’s processes. One of the things that I really gravitated to was the fact that the classes were asynchronous. You only take one class at a time for the seven-and-a-half weeks and become fully immersed in each subject.

How have you developed relationships with your classmates in the program?
Initially our team connected via email, and then it evolved into a suggestion to get on Google Meet. The first couple of minutes were awkward because no one knew each other, but once we started to dive in, we connected. We met outside of the class even before we all coincidentally decided to attend the same residency weekend. Several of my classmates either live in the New York City area or are originally from here so we’ve gotten together for dinner and even brought our spouses. There’s an open invitation: If you’re in town, let’s get together.

What is your wicked problem?
My wicked problem is trying to bring transparency to healthcare. It’s a huge problem. If you go to a car manufacturer, they can tell you down to the bolt what it costs them to make a vehicle. Healthcare is not so transparent; it’s a field that is just so cloudy and convoluted.

Benjamin Hunt

Role:
Service Center Manager of Sales & Service

Company:
Old Dominion Freight Line

Location:
Wilmington, NC


Why did you choose an online format?
I've moved four times in the last six years so it was very beneficial that I was able to still do my classwork online. Before I took my current position, I was a part of the In-Depth Interview Team for Old Dominion Freight Line and I used to visit every one of our service centers around the country to interview the employees and see what the company could do better. An online program gave me the versatility to login wherever I was.


How are you applying what you learn in class immediately to your work?
Day in and day out, actually. I just completed the Business Analytics course, and that helped me dig into the numbers that I see daily and how to see, work and play with the data that we as a company have currently and what we will have in the future. In Global Managerial Economics, the curriculum played a key role in what I do because our economy and the trucking industry are basically tied together. If the economy is slow then the trucking industry is going to be slow. For instance, the trade wars and the North American Free Trade Agreement not being ratified puts a lot of constrictions on the economy and on the trucking industry because it restricts our ability to deliver freight.


What is your wicked problem?
You can make $100,000 driving a truck with just a high school diploma. It’s really tough because we are probably down to about 70,000 drivers in the country, which is going to affect the nation’s economy. If there’s a shortage of drivers, it means that companies like mine have to charge more to move shipments across the nation, and that increases the prices for the consumer at the final sale.

Jenn Price

Role:
Senior Business Development Specialist

Company:
BerryDunn – Assurance, Tax and Consulting

Location:
Portland, ME


Why did you pursue an Online MBA degree?
I have a great respect for education and I feel like knowledge is power. There are a lot of issues that businesses face and I want to be able to have that language of business to foster change in organizations.

I also have a lot on my plate personally and professionally. I’m married and have two young kids, so doing a residential program just wasn’t feasible for me at this point in my life. But I also felt like at this point in my career, it was now or never. I didn’t want to wait longer or later in my career to go back to school because I want to get to the next level of managing people and be in a leadership role. An online program was attractive to me because I wasn’t limited geographically to schools I can drive to easily.


Why was William & Mary’s Online MBA the best fit for you?
I really liked the wicked problem. Based on my research of other programs, it seemed like that was a unique approach. I also liked that the professors and resources you have access to, including the Executive Partners, were the same as the residential program. You’re not getting a second-tier educational experience. Certainly, the school’s reputation and long-standing history were also selling points.


What is your wicked problem?
My wicked problem looks at dysfunctional leadership, and the widespread economic and cultural impact it has on a business. This is something that is personal to me to some degree, but it’s also something that I think is a huge problem in corporate America.

Ashley Laitano

Role:
Key Account Manager

Company:
Panalpina

Location:
Washington, DC


Why did you choose William & Mary’s Online MBA program?
Since I started my search for an MBA program four or five years ago, it has evolved with each year that I experienced in my career. At first, I was looking for a more traditional MBA program in a part-time, evening format. I was never going to quit my job and stop working to attend a full-time program, but I saw the value in being on-campus. As my career evolved, I kept traveling internationally, which is really important to me and I didn’t want to pause that experience. The flexibility of being online means I can take my MBA wherever I go in my travels. But what ended up drawing me to William & Mary was the balance between the traditional, hard-skills development and the program’s emphasis on soft skills.


What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from a classmate?
Networking, networking, networking! The world doesn’t work off of money, it works off of people and the relationships you have with them. In the online program, we don’t have the luxury of meeting people every day in person, so we have to actively create relationships and network among each other.


What is your wicked problem?
Organizational behavior is the core of my wicked problem, which revolves around organizations that put teams together with conflicting metrics. It was a huge problem at my company because both teams needed each other to be successful but their respective metrics and KPIs were different. Each team had a different approach, which caused conflict.

Parshva Bavishi

Role:
Impact & Evaluations

Company:
Older Adults Technology Services

Location:
New York, NY


How do you apply what you learn in class immediately to your work?
I break it down into two areas. First is the technical, immediate support. I’m applying the things I learned in Business Analytics or Global Managerial Economics—understanding data manipulation and statistical tests—in the real world right now, and that’s affecting our members country-wide. On a larger, higher level, the things I learned in Organizational Behavior like managing staff, interacting with members, understanding strengths and weaknesses, what to look out for, and what makes a team more cohesive have been helpful.


How have you connected with the William & Mary Tribe?
Several of us were able to meet outside of our MBA program in New York, for example. Those of us local to New York attended one of the William & Mary professional Breakfast and Business Card events, which put us directly in touch with alumni and other current students. We were able to meet a lot of people from various different companies who will hopefully help us in the years to come.

I also think having an on-campus residency experience really helps students feel a part of the entire cohort, and honestly, feel a part of the Tribe. I was on campus many years ago in high school and college with Model U.N., so it was great to be back there and get the same networking experience that the full-time MBA students get.


What is your wicked problem?
Our mission is to look at how to improve all of us as we age and our connection to technology. My goal is to ensure people are digitally ready, digitally literate, have financial security, and are still socially engaged as we get older. That’s what led me to this company, and it kind of works hand-in-hand with what I do now in research for my wicked problem.

A.J. Barron

Role:
Training & Readiness Integrator

Company:
Amyx

Location:
Reston, VA


What’s been the most valuable learning experience you’ve had in the Online MBA program?
In the orientation in the very first class, we learned that what you think you knew yesterday may no longer apply today, and if it does, it probably won’t apply tomorrow. It was a very powerful insight that I hung onto throughout the program. The lesson is that you have to build upon your years of experience and continue to evolve your perspective to solve challenges.


What are you plans after graduation?
I applied to the Online MBA program with an aspiration and desire to learn about business and industry. But I figured out that I needed to know who I was and what I wanted as a professional. I now know that I want to stay in my industry, but I want to build upon my experience to move up vertically and be in a role that can contribute innovative solutions to complex challenges facing our national defense system like reducing costs and making our country safer. I worked with Patrice Lincoln from the Graduate Career Management Center, and she gave me an 18-month plan for how to accomplish this. Before the program, I was just guessing how to achieve upward mobility, but she really laid out a map to success.


What is your wicked problem?
East St. Louis is a pretty dysfunctional community. The poverty rate is extreme, the unemployment rate is extreme. It used to be a thriving industrial center, then industry left and the community is now shackled with all of these problems. It’s always bothered me that this community couldn’t figure out a way to spur growth and redevelop itself.

Dean Johnson

Role:
Sr. Regional Investment Consultant

Company:
Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Location:
Denver, CO


Why did you pursue an MBA through an online format?
I travel about 50 percent of the time. I talked to quite a few friends who had gone through MBA programs in different formats, and they all told me the exact same thing: I should not look at a program that would mean I had to actually be in class. If I was going to pursue higher education, it would have to be in a format that can work within my lifestyle and schedule demands.


What did you think of the residency experience?
It’s something that I enjoyed quite a bit. The biggest thing I was able to see was that there were quite a few people in situations like mine who are traveling or are in very senior positions. There’s absolutely no way they could quit their jobs and go back to pursue an MBA in a different format, especially one that would require them to physically go somewhere. It reinforced that this is absolutely the right situation for me.


What is your wicked problem?
There is a very large demographic issue in the financial planning industry as a whole. If you don’t have enough advisors that are female, as well as black or Hispanic, you may end up with some significantly underserved populations who need good financial advice. We all need financial advisors who are highly educated and have a lot of experience to make sure we’re prepared for retirement, have enough life insurance, all of the things that are necessary to protect our families now and in the future.
Questions? Let’s Connect.