If you’re looking to advance your career while you work, UW–Madison’s hybrid MBA program—the Wisconsin Professional MBA is made for you. Fifty-seven professionals representing a variety of industries and locales joined the program for its launch last fall, hoping to level-up their careers, add strategic skills, and better their futures as people and professionals.
Students Felicia Kamriani, a senior digital media designer at Google, and Bree Santiago, a Chicago-based senior implementation project manager at Affirm, share what stuck out to them about the inaugural year of the Wisconsin Professional MBA.
1. Working in teams really works in this hybrid MBA program
The Wisconsin Professional MBA is built with the busy and ambitious professional in mind.
The Wisconsin School of Business designed the program knowing how difficult it is to complete a fully on-campus program while maintaining a high-pressure career and other life obligations.
- Collaboration, team-building, and networking are key components of the Wisconsin Professional MBA.
- Projects in the first-year of the program—the program’s core year—are team-based. You work with each other in a manner that mirrors the workplace.
- You are part of a curated team of individuals from differing backgrounds. Since coursework traverses both quantitative and qualitative subject matter, students excel in different courses, and are able to share their expertise and take turns leading and learning from each other.
Felicia Kamriani says that working with her team has been one of the most rewarding parts of her program experience.
“It’s very much like the quintessential cross-functional team that you might find in a company where everybody has different skill sets. It really shows how people can lean in and lean out depending on what the topic is,” says Kamriani.
She describes her team as social, supportive, and always learning. Taking financial courses at the onset of the program was challenging, but having a finance director on her team helped steady the group and make sure the team had a solid footing, while other team members were introduced to topics for the first time.
2. You have the ability to advance your career right away
Wisconsin Professional MBA students see their studies pay off during the first year of the program.
Bree Santiago’s company’s upper-level management team communicated that an MBA would help her achieve higher roles, and her enhanced skill set was recognized by her company early on in the program.
“It’s boosted my career, and I know it will continue to boost me once my degree is completed. I’ll be able to go into more senior roles off the bat without having to work my way up into that level,” says Santiago.
With a goal of completing the program in two years, Santiago is on the fast track to becoming a trusted leader within her organization and her compensation is going up. She credits her Negotiations course for helping her earn more.
“I really liked our Negotiations class because it was something that was directly applicable to pretty much anything that you can do. You can take what you learn from these classes and use it right away at your job,” Santiago says. “Especially coming around with those annual raises and promotions, the techniques you learn really help.”
Santiago is building a long-term career plan with the help of Wisconsin Professional MBA career coach Jean Sink. Santiago has had two sessions with Sink that have helped her crystalize her goals and put plans into action for getting to her next professional step. Santiago describes the program’s built-in career coaching as a valuable resource that has allowed her to carve out where she is and where she wants to be.
3. The flexible program structure fits with your career and busy life
The Wisconsin Professional MBA is 50% online and 50% in person.
- You participate in online MBA courses every Wednesday and complete individual and team assignments remotely.
- Then, one weekend a month, students from around the Midwest converge on the UW–Madison campus for two days of in-person classes and collaboration.
“The hybrid model has worked pretty great, especially with my work schedule,” says Santiago. “Sometimes I’m not able to make the Wednesday meetings, but since everything is recorded, I can still go back and review it. Knowing that I do have that option, if life gets in the way, is definitely valuable.”
Santiago’s team stays in touch wherever they are via a Microsoft Teams channel. Despite the geographic distance from her teammates, she has been able to build strong relationships and even recommend classmates for roles at Affirm. She plans to help coordinate a meet-up of all Chicago-area Wisconsin Professional MBA students soon, to further build networks and share career opportunities.
When it comes to taking what you learn and applying it to your current everyday role, the program is taught in a way that allows you to immediately implement what you learn at work.
Kamriani says that her MBA courses have helped her zero in on what is important when facing a work challenge: “there’s usually a lot of information and you have to be able to synthesize what’s important. How can we capture the key takeaways from all of the readings and all of the videos and apply them to real-world scenarios?”
Working on the skills of synthesis and decision-making have helped Kamriani when leading meetings at Google and asking questions of her colleagues.
The team-based approach in the Wisconsin Professional MBA has given her a newfound understanding of when to lead during a project, helping her to better trust the expertise of her coworkers and also assert herself when the time is right.
The Wisconsin Professional MBA enrolls two cohorts each year.
You have the option to start your MBA in September or January. Then after your first core year, you get to choose your coursework, taking between one and four additional years to complete your degree.
Interested in learning more about the benefits of the hybrid Wisconsin Professional MBA?