As a youngster, Kendra Martz was so touched by an NBC Dateline episode about the bionic arm that she made her career choice on the spot. “I was immediately intrigued,” says the 2021 Ball State Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate, “and ever since, I knew I wanted to go into biomedical engineering.”
Growing up in Boise, Idaho, Kendra’s ambitions led her to California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo to earn a bachelor’s in bioengineering and biomedical engineering. After graduation, she was hired as a development engineer contractor by Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company headquartered in Warsaw, Indiana.
At the time, her manager was pursuing a Ball State MBA. “He was the first person that vouched for how flexible the program was for those with a full-time job,” says Kendra, who today is senior development engineer. She knows of a product manager, packing engineer, and manufacturing engineer at Zimmer who are Ball State MBA students.
She’s a Believer in a Degree You Can Apply
“I’m a big believer in getting a degree in the hopes that you can apply your knowledge for a future job,” she says. “It needs to be applicable to your field or a future opportunity that is realistic for you. I didn’t want to get an MBA just to pad my resume.”
She recalls that classes in her bachelor’s program focused on careers in research and academia. “There wasn’t a large focus on industry and how engineers benefit from knowledge of business operations,” she says.
As a new employee at Zimmer, she realized how much business decisions can impact engineering.
“You can design a surgical instrument that has all sorts of bells and whistles and has pristine functionality,” she explains, “but could be so over engineered that it’s confusing to the customer and doesn’t improve patient outcomes.”
Pursued Professional Experience First
Having been advised to get professional experience before doing an MBA, Kendra was four years into her career before enrolling and opting for Ball State’s general MBA.
“A general MBA allowed me to tailor the program for my current role as development engineer, and post-graduation role, as a project manager,” says Kendra, adding, “I took a specific project management class and health economics and policy as it was relevant to my company’s role in personal healthcare.”
Online classes were ideal for Kendra.
“I appreciated how I could feel more engaged and connected to classes by actually ‘sitting’ in a class online,” she says. “Classes that allowed me to rewatch lectures at a different time and were predictable on assignment delivery dates were important for me to organize and balance my life between class and work.”
Online Helped Her Around Busy Seasons
Kendra says online instruction allowed her to work around high-volume seasons of work and still attend classes at her own pace.
She found that personal attention from the faculty was also possible online.
“Professors were very prompt via email and understanding my travel schedule pre-pandemic,” she says. “Also, I received very thorough comments and constructive feedback in long-form writing and presentation assignments. It was important input that I could apply to the next assignment.”
Zimmer Role is Rewarding
Kendra says it’s rewarding that her role with Zimmer can improve patients’ lives—and hit close to home.
“Both of my parents have had joint replacements,” she says, “so I understand how a hip or shoulder replacement can impact a patient’s future and quality of life.”