Adding Business to Service: Mason Military Students Pursue Online EMBA

Posted: March 18, 2014 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: March 19, 2014 at 6:50 am

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Col. Reddy. Photo courtesy of Reddy

Marine Corps Col. Peter Reddy. Photo courtesy of  Peter Reddy

As a program manager at Marine Corps Systems Command, Col. Peter Reddy leads an office of government civilians, active duty Marines, and various outside contractor and agency workers. With a demanding job and frequent travel, Reddy sought flexibility when looking for a graduate degree programs. He found that flexibility in George Mason University’s online Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) Program.

With rigorous and relevant course work and opportunities for valuable real-world experience, George Mason’s online EMBA Program offers a convenient online platform for military students to earn a superior education and gain invaluable business perspective, even while deployed overseas.

“While the online format took some getting used to, I adapted to it quickly and it worked well,” says Reddy. Despite the fact that he was working on the degree remotely, Reddy was able to form valuable connections with local cohort members. In planning and managing the acquisition and sustainment of command and control, communications, and force protection system resources, Reddy now feels better equipped to understand business practices and motivations of defense contractor businesses, as well as apply many of the principles of good business practice within his own office.

From program managers to pilots, these online EMBA students have a broad range of backgrounds in leadership and service around the world. Their careers take have taken them beyond borders, so their EMBA program must be able to do the same.

Gaining Global Perspective through a Supportive and Flexible Program

Shane O’Donnell has been in the military since 1988 and the National Guard since 2001. Currently a financial manager, his background includes managing pay and travel for the National Guard in Indianapolis, serving as controller for the Washington State Guard, and training as an Army engineer.

O’Donnell sought a distance learning program in anticipation of future travel. Some aspects and tools, such as the collaborative nature of the Blackboard learning environment and the exposure to group dynamics, surpassed his expectations. “It was a much more team-based approach to learning than I would have imagined,” says O’Donnell. “Probably the best testament to the school and the program is the support of the faculty and the flexibility that everyone allowed.” While in the program, O’Donnell was able to visit companies in China, take classes from Oxford Said Business School professors and engage with European Union representatives.

Felicia Blair

Air Force 2nd Lt. Felicia Blair. Photo courtesy of Felicia Blair

Following her graduation from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and commission as second lieutenant, Felicia Blair has been an air battle manager and pilot for the Air Force. With experience flying C-130 cargo planes and C-21 passenger planes, she is currently a C-21 instructor pilot. Blair pursued a quality program that would augment both her military and post-military careers.

“I knew that with a good MBA, not just a check-the-box degree, I would have more opportunities when I get out of the military.” Because of her deployment schedule, Blair was restricted to online courses. But even while flying missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, she participated in the program and credits Mason with providing continuous support. “Mason is very military-friendly and willing to work with everyone’s schedule,” says Blair. “I felt that Mason really cared about me as a student.”

Engaging in a Collaborative Structure While Abroad

Previously deputy director of intelligence, operations and logistics for the Navy’s U.S. Sixth Fleet, David Mayo is currently an associate professor at National Defense University’s National War College.

Intrigued by the opportunity to gain additional knowledge and skills that would benefit him upon retirement, Mayo pursued a flexible online MBA program. Mayo found his professors to be very accessible, and videoconferencing allowed for easy group coordination. But the online structure and group dynamics were more challenging than anticipated.

“You can’t just grab someone to clarify a question,” explains Mayo. “You miss verbal cues, and there is discipline required for understanding how to work in a virtual team.” Through the challenge of online collaboration, Mayo found that he connected with his classmates in a way he never expected, even while abroad. “I have done course work from Europe, the Middle East and throughout the United States,” he says. “I could not have done this [degree] if I had to go to the classroom.”

Mason’s online EMBA program is noted as highly flexible and ideal for business leaders wanting to excel in their careers. Students engage in a challenging yet rewarding curriculum rich with cultural perspectives, innovative technology and hands-on experience.

For more information, visit onlineemba.gmu.edu. Mason’s Office of Military Services provides various resources for military students, including Armed Forces Tuition Assistance and the Battle Buddies mentorship program.

This article previously appeared in a slightly different format on the Mason Online Education website.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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