Students enrolled in distance coursework through the UNL College of Business Administration MBA program are learning that online does not mean out-of-touch. Steve Welton, assistant professor of practice in marketing, is just one example of instructors providing real world instruction to all MBA students at the college.
Welton recently brought in former UNL MBA alumnus Brent Claassen, an international sales manager for LI-COR Biosciences, Inc., to be interviewed on video as part of the marketing globalization class. Claassen, who received his MBA in 2001, has over ten years of experience at LI-COR.
“We manufacture instruments for scientific research,” Claassen said. “I work on the environmental side where we make instruments for agricultural research, horticultural soil samples and climate change science. A lot of what’s driving what we do now is climate change -- the exchange of greenhouse gasses from ecosystems -- from the soil back into the atmosphere.”
Claassen works with distribution networks throughout the world, although he is primarily involved with clients in East Asia. His expertise in distributing cutting edge global technologies inspired Welton to interview Claassen.
Steve Welton and Brent Claassen
“Brent is the perfect fit for bringing real world experience into the classroom,” Welton said. “We’re studying channels of distribution for global marketing both in sales and management of those channels. Brent’s experience managing distribution networks will help show students how those networks operate, who their customers are and what the markets are like.”
Claassen believes giving back to the MBA program is reciprocal in terms of what he received.
“The MBA gave me a broad skill set to help me professionally in management, finance and marketing,” Claassen said. “It also helped to prepare me to work with people in groups and come up with deliverables from those groups, which is what I do now in my job.”
Welton believes his online MBA students receive a more personal experience by having access to the video interviews.
“When you’re online it’s a little bit harder to do, but I like to interview real professionals who are currently working in the industry for our online students,” Welton said.
Brad Focht, director of the MBA program, is excited about Welton’s work and continuing strategies that have the program ranked nationally.
"Steve is one of the great examples in our faculty community demonstrating why the UNL distance MBA maintains a leadership position in the world of online instruction,” Focht said. “Our professors deliver the same class online as they do in the classroom using technology to overcome the lack of face-to-face instruction. And we aren't done. We continue to look for new ways to utilize technology to make the distance MBA experience even richer."