Kendra Martz, MBA Alumna, Saw Her Future on NBC Dateline

Kendra in the office, smiling

Kendra is at work using a laptopAs 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.” 

Army Veteran Balances it All: Career, School, Mountain Bikes

Josh Michael
Bachelor’s in Business Administration

When Josh Michael was 18 he set out to do what most other high school graduates did at that time: go to college. He moved to Indianapolis in pursuit of an associate degree in computer aided drafting and eventually found a career in sales.

Fast forward 10 years, and Josh found a new calling: to serve his country. Even though he would be older than 80 percent of his battalion, he joined the Army as an infantryman and soon deployed to Afghanistan to fight on the frontlines.

In 2011, Josh’s unit was deployed to Logar Province, one of the most dangerous areas at the time. With only 20 days remaining in his deployment, he took a direct hit from an 82mm mortar round. The blast destroyed his left elbow and knee, and also left him with a traumatic brain injury. It took a year and a half at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas to recover from his injuries before being medically retired with a Purple Heart.

But that’s not the end of Josh’s journey.

“I wanted the best.”

Having had sales experience before joining the Army, Josh was fortunate to find employment with a company dedicated to hiring military veterans.

“When I retired [from the Army] my company hired me right away,” says Josh. “It was very challenging to transition into a civilian job. They let me work a few hours a week, while I was still recovering, to get to know the company.”

But the sales profession is competitive. Josh knows this. He often times describes his career as “high pressure.” So, when he decided it was time to use his GI Bill and earn his bachelor’s degree, Josh knew he couldn’t afford to put his career on hold.

Ball State University’s online bachelor degree programs provided Josh with the option to further his education – with the same academic rigor as on campus – while also continuing his career.

“There are many online schools that offer a bachelor’s degree in business administration,” says Josh. “But I wanted a school with a strong reputation as a university, not just an online school. I wanted the best.”

A Balancing Act

Josh leads a very busy life. In addition to his full-time career and course load, he’s a husband, mountain biker, and an active churchman. So, discipline – which his military career taught him – is one key to this balancing act.

“Balancing life is a difficult mission for anyone. I have learned to be efficient by embracing the challenge,” says Josh. “I would like to do other things, but my end goal is to be a positive impact on society. Being a well-educated veteran is the best way I know how to do that.”

Another key factor to Josh’s balancing act is the support of his academic advisor, Laura Waldron. He notes that the degree completion timeline is very important to him. Working with Laura has helped him strategize his course load, based off his job’s schedule, and remain on track to graduate on time.

“Josh and I connect regularly throughout the semester … and we discuss what is going well for him or questions he has,” says Laura. “He works tremendously hard to balance life, a full-time job and a full academic load, and he does it well. He’s incredibly driven to complete his degree in four years and he sets very high standards for himself and his course work. I am very proud of him.”

Even though there’s only 24 hours in a day, Josh makes his schedule work, and advises others that they can, too.

“You will be surprised how much time you have for school when you make it a priority,” says Josh.

Well-deserved Honors

Since Josh is always pressed for time, he enjoys how Ball State’s online bachelor’s in business administration program has allowed him to work at a pace and in an environment that is best for him, where he can focus without many distractions, other than his dog Lieutenant Colonel Bunker.

Plus, having to commute to campus wouldn’t leave much time for Josh’s mountain biking excursions. His involvement with mountain biking began as an opportunity for physical fitness and therapy, but it became something more.

In 2014, Josh was selected to join former President George W. Bush for the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Military Service Initiative’s Warrior 100K (W100K). The W100K is an annual 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for U.S. military servicemen and women who have been wounded or injured since September 11, 2001. Josh has participated in every ride since.

Adding to this experience, President Bush published “Portraits of Courage” in 2017. The book is a collection of portraits he painted of veterans he had met throughout his life. Josh was one of 98 veterans selected for this honor.

May 2020 will bring more well-deserved and hard-earned honors for Josh: graduation and a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Ball State MBA Delivers for Business Executive – and She Tells Why

When Carolyn Van Sickle ventured into Ball State’s online master of business administration program, she hadn’t sat through a college course in more than 15 years. During that interim, she had become a business executive working in software delivery and sales management and today is a strategic accounts director for GE Digital.

Confident of professors and online support staff who were readily accessible via email, Van Sickle made the transition from boardroom to classroom with hardly a hitch. She especially liked the “synchronous” classes, which webcast lectures conducted on campus and allows online students to participate in the discussions. Most Ball State MBA courses are synchronous webcasts and can be viewed again at students’ convenience.

“I liked seeing the professor in an actual classroom full of students and getting to hear live the questions from the other students—both those in class and online,” says the California native. Now based in Phoenix, Arizona, Van Sickle pursued the Ball State MBA, with a sales management concentration, fully online and graduated in 2017 summa cum laude. Students also have the option of pursuing the degree on campus or a blend of online and on campus classes.

MBA Lifts Her to the Next Level

Leading large Internet of Things (loT) transformation programs for customers globally with a premier software company of the Industrial Internet, she manages a team of delivery and development contributors that includes data scientists, architects, engineers, project managers, and customer success managers.

Even with her credentials, the Ball State MBA alum took her sales career “to the next level,” in Van Sickle’s words.

“I was able to secure a position as a sales executive while in the program,” she says. “Prior to joining the program, sales managers were hesitant to hire me because I didn’t have any direct sales experience.”

Classes Had Diversity of Real World

With sales management classes, she could immediately apply what she was learning in class to the daily activities in her sales role. Management classes were insightful, she says, because “they taught me to better understand the work environment as a whole, especially what motivates managers and customers.”

Van Sickle also saw the value of a diverse student enrollment profile—in terms of age, work experience, and academic background.

“It was more like the real-world work environment than most business programs,” she says. “I have many friends who went to other top business schools, but they were in class with only people like themselves—late 20’s with minimal work experience. I also have friends who went the Executive MBA route—again, all students with the same level of experience and all around the same age. They didn’t learn to work with other generations.”

Collaboration Made for Great Discussions

She says that collaborating with online classmates was easier than she thought. For a final capstone project, her capstone team analyzed and recommended short-, mid-, and long-term strategies for consumer electronics retailer, Best Buy.

“The combination of company history, along with the turbulent retail industry, made for great discussions.”

Although her résumé includes Fortune 500 companies and nearly 20 years of experience managing and implementing digital solutions and services, Van Sickle believes her MBA provides yet another level of career security.

“With corporate America always in a state of change, my MBA gives me options that weren’t open before. In addition to going back into territory sales, I’m qualified for more roles and could even launch and run my own company.”

Tyler Wilson Sees Company’s Big Picture

An undergraduate who once had dreams of doing stem cell research, Tyler Wilson now sees himself as a business entrepreneur thanks to an online bachelor’s in business administration.

“I wanted to find an accredited business program that was online and offered a high quality educational experience. Ball State met all of those criteria.”

BECOMING A LEADER WITH BALL STATE ONLINE

Even before he logged into his first online course, Tyler Wilson knew he would be comfortable in an online classroom.

“I’m very engaged, self-motivated, self-directed,” says Wilson, a student in Ball State’s online bachelor’s in business administration and an analyst in the claims department of an insurance company in Carmel, Indiana. “I prefer the online classroom because I like being able to pause lectures or skip around to material that I need to hear again.”

A self-described “entrepreneur,” Wilson sees himself as a future business exec. “I would like to become a leader who helps create the vision and overall strategy of the company,” he says. “I’d like to mentor other people and help them realize their own career goals.”

BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION MEANS BROAD FOCUS

Transitioning into Ball State’s bachelor’s in business administration was ideal because he was able to transfer in 50 credit hours from two universities previously attended, even though his original major was in biology. And he could complete exams online.

“Being a senior now, I am glad I chose the business administration program because I was exposed to so many different areas of business,” he says. Wilson graduated in December 2015.

“The coursework has given me a big picture of how a company operates,” says Wilson. “The different areas of business I’m learning – accounting, finance, operations, management – help me to understand what makes a company successful.”

Start Now with Ball State Online

Tyler learned entrepreneurial skills to help him advance in the business world – are you interested in a similar path?

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