Kendra Bruton is a pricing supervisor with PepsiCo. She graduated from the NC State Professional Online MBA program in December 2013.
Deciding to earn an MBA
I want to move into a marketing and brand management position. Since most of these are “MBA-preferred,” having an MBA gives me an edge, especially when combined with my work experience. Plus, NC State is a known and well-respected school, so employers know that I have a quality education.
Learning in an online environment
A lot of people have asked about my MBA program, and I tell them it is hard work. But the NC State online MBA program is also quite flexible, so I’ve been able to do well in the program and still be effective on the job. I usually set aside time to study after work and on the weekends. On average, I spent about 20-30 hours per week dedicated to the program, sometime more when we had individual assignments or team projects due.
Experiencing learning in the virtual world
We had two online business simulation projects that required us to work in teams and apply what we were learning. Each team was comprised of five or six people who managed a virtual company. We developed our marketing and R&D strategies and made decisions about our budget, products and headcount as if we were running a real company. Each week, we entered our decisions online and the professor ran the simulation program, which produced a report on how well we did against the other teams’ companies. Anything could happen. One time, our company was neck-and-neck with a competitor, and we came up with a niche product to differentiate our company. Even though our team didn’t win the competition, we learned a lot about decision-making and managing team dynamics.
Applying leadership skills
During the program, I learned how to manage my staff at work more effectively, and just as important, I learned how to do a better job of engaging and influencing leaders. I applied these skills to improve a tracking report that was difficult to update. The result was the development of a database that’s simple, easy to use and quick to produce. It was a win for my customers and employees alike.
Advising prospective MBA students
Several of my co-workers have been encouraged that I’ve been able to balance work and school. I tell them that they have to be ready to work hard. They should also have a clear understanding of their career goals and how an MBA and the knowledge they will gain will help them reach those goals. That’s what makes all the time and money pay off.