Online MBA Welcomes Inaugural Cohort
Earlier this year, the Online MBA program welcomed its inaugural cohort during its first series of synchronous class weekends. The Pamplin College of Business announced the program in January in response to the changing needs of students, the classroom, and the workplace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program garnered significant interest and the college was pleased to exceed its initial enrollment target for the summer 2021 term.
Students in the new cohort have an average of 10.5 years of work experience and hail from California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia. 24 percent of the cohort are underrepresented minorities and 33 percent are female.
“When we first set out to build a fully online MBA program, we sought feedback from students in all our MBA formats to determine how we could offer the best educational experience and reach a wider range of working professionals,” said Dana Hansson, director of MBA programs.
“We’re glad to see our inaugural cohort brings such a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives to the classroom,” said Rebecca McGill, associate director of MBA recruiting. “One enormous benefit of an online program is its ability to bring together students from across the country while they are still actively working in their current professional roles.”
The first Online MBA cohort began its 22-month MBA journey in July with courses in the Financial & Economic Environment of Business and Strategic Business Environment, taught by R.V. and A.F. Oliver Professor of Investment Management Dr. Raman Kumar and Business Information Technology Professor of Practice Rear Admiral (ret.) David Simpson, respectively.
“Dr. Kumar is a professor who is highly invested in his students. He approaches a topic from multiple angles to help every student develop a foundational understanding based on more than rote memorization,” said Hansson. “It’s this commitment to students and his ability to make a traditionally challenging subject less intimidating that make him one of our most popular faculty members across all MBA programs.”
As part of the Strategic Business Environment course, Simpson hosted a guest speaker series that brought in professionals with a range of leadership experience, including MBA alumni from Virginia Tech’s Executive MBA and Evening MBA formats.
Speakers included Cesar Torres MBA ‘20, Chief Technology Strategist at Microsoft; Stephanie Alexander MBA ‘12, CEO/Founder of BOOST, LLC; Jessica Gulick MBA ‘07, Founder and CEO of KATZCY and Commissioner of the U.S. Cyber Games; Sherlonda Goode-Jones, Partner at Guidehouse; Tom Wheeler, Former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; and Mike Finley, CEO of Boingo Wireless.
Speakers shared their insights on workplace leadership, culture, inclusion and diversity, as well as the return on investment of an MBA.
“Professor Simpson’s approach of providing students with an opportunity to network and hear from professionals who were previously in the students' position is a great way to kick off the program,” said McGill. “Students gain tremendous advantage by hearing firsthand from graduates about the value of a Virginia Tech MBA and how they can get the most out of their time in the program.”
As the inaugural cohort continues this fall with courses in accounting and marketing, McGill and Hansson look forward to recruiting the next Online MBA cohort for July 2022.