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.”