After completing an undergraduate degree in humanities, Jim Rothi worked as a restaurant manager for eight years. He acquired management skills by observing others and learned by trial and error.
But when Rothi decided on a career change, he knew he needed a more formal introduction to the art of managing a business. He also needed to learn about the technology skills required in today’s business world.
Rothi chose the MBA program at Miami University in Oxford, OH . There, Rothi learned about management theories and tools. He also received technical training that he said would have taken him years to discover on his own.
After graduation, Rothi was accepted into a two-year Information Management Leadership Program at General Electric. Now, he works as an affiliates integration leader for General Electric Aircraft Engines in Ohio.
“Miami gave me the technical basics that showed GE I was interested in an IT career. The two-year GEprogram that I was hired into built on those basics and gave me all the technical experience I needed,” said Rothi.
A blend of business and IT
Because he did not have a business or IT undergraduate degree, Rothi was required to take a few undergraduate prerequisites.
“This burden was made much less painful at Miami. Some prerequisites were offered in concentrated summer courses, and I was able to take other undergraduate classes at the same time as my MBA coursework,” said Rothi.
Miami’s MIS MBA students complete the following courses:
- Management of Information Systems
- Systems Analysis and Design
- Object-Oriented and Distributed Databases
- Data Communications.
Students also enroll in an independent study course in their area of interest. “The independent study courses allow the students to have enough flexibility to make their own choice to pursue a technical or managerial career,” said David C. Yen, chair of the Department of Decision Sciences and Management of Information Systems at Miami University.
Independent study topics include:
- Web design and multimedia
- Object-oriented programming with data structure
- Microcomputer architecture
“By using my own experiences and case studies, I was able to evaluate what I was learning and find what worked best for me,” Rothi observed.
Kristen T. Gomez, recruiter for Andersen Consulting, has hired Miami MBA graduates and says she’s impressed with the skills they’ve learned in the independent study program and internship process. Gomez describes Miami alums as good performers with deep technical skills.
A lesson in diversity
This MBA program has a diverse student body. Currently 32 percent of the students are international students from countries including India, China, Nepal, Ghana, Croatia, Portugal, and Brazil. The program began its push for diversity in 1998.
“We view diversity in a very broad domain. We want students to appreciate different opinions, perspectives, value concepts, money concepts, cultural concepts, and other environments, which will force them to create different alternatives and resolutions [to business problems],” said Yen.
When students are divided into groups to complete projects, an effort is made to combine people with different cultural and academic backgrounds. This is helpful because diversity is an important factor in several different case studies.
A class that studies Internet security will examine how the cultural background of hackers influences their approach in attacking a system or gaining unauthorized access.
In an Information Systems Ethics course, cases are used to explore how different nationalities view data. For instance, age is often a more salient piece of data in western cultures than it is in the east.
“We encourage students to work together to learn differences. How do different people attack a problem differently? How do they negotiate for resources? How do they take care of data privacy?” said Yen.
Rothi believes this is just one way his MBA has provided him with an important framework for learning that will be valuable throughout his career.
“The MBA program is certainly about learning, but it is also about learning how to think in new ways. I not only learned about management theories and tools, I learned how to take those basics and apply them in new experiences and situations,” said Rothi.
How can universities make it easier for IT pros to pursue an MBA? Should some classes be waived based on your work experience? What has stopped you from going after another degree? Post your comments below or send us a story idea .