Wes Pietrzak, ’20, expanded his career potential by enlarging his business proficiency in the top-ranked MBA@Nebraska program at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The hard work he put into the program led to Pietrzak placing on the Best and Brightest Online MBAs Class named by Poets&Quants, a leader in graduate education.
“Having an MBA is a differentiator,” said Pietrzak, who completed his master’s degree almost entirely online from his home in Cedar Park, Texas. “I chose Nebraska because I needed flexibility to balance work, my children’s activities and personal commitments. Having a degree from a highly ranked Big Ten school is a good feeling.”
His favorite part of the MBA@Nebraska, ranked No. 9 nationally by Poets&Quants in 2020 for online MBA programs, focused on gaining a broader perspective of business. Prior to enrolling in the program, he gained similar insights in his job as a finance controller at Dell Technologies via an exclusive three-year rotation program that gave participants unique roles they would not otherwise experience. Nebraska enhanced his ability to delve into new business concepts.
“I learned new things about areas of business I don’t normally interact with at work in the MBA program. I also used new applications and technology I hadn’t used before,” he said.
With the help of Dr. Tawnya Means, assistant dean and assistant professor of practice in management at the College of Business, Pietrzak used a business simulation program called Capism in the Strategic Management and Business Policy (GRBA 853) course. It showed him essential elements of running a business in research and development, marketing, production and finance. The students discover how decisions made in one area of a firm related closely to decisions made in other areas.
“I received a new perspective in regards to areas of business I didn’t understand or consider as possible career opportunities. Dr. Means split us into small groups. Then she discussed class work, simulation techniques and allowed time for questions. If students weren’t able to join, the recordings were available on demand,” said Pietrzak.
He noted Means was particularly helpful given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this time of uncertainty, she was constantly asking if there was anything else she could do to help with class because she realized we were all working under different than normal circumstances. The program exposed me to things like Zoom before my company started using it, so it was an easy transition once it became more popular in the office. My MBA experience also opened up more possibilities for future roles that may come open after we get through this pandemic,” he said.
Means praised Pietrzak for his leadership in class. She believes participation is the key to raising the quality of education students receive by learning from each other.
“Wes actively participated in our live sessions in Zoom,” Means said. “His work experience brought a valuable perspective to discussions and he made connections between the course content and his work. He was a strong team member and highly ranked by his peers on the team assessment. Even after the course ended, he stayed involved, and even attended the first session of the next term to share his lessons learned and give advice to new students.”
Pietrzek, who in addition to family responsibilities has completed eight marathons, credits the MBA@Nebraska with giving him solid career-building connections in his online classes and in his sole on-campus experience taking the program’s first blended course in adaptive leadership in May 2019. He believes his new master’s degree can only benefit his long-term goals at Dell.
“I want to keep advancing my career at Dell and do it by finding roles where I can help people. Whether that is business partnership, leading teams with a common vision or mentoring people that are newer in their career. It was great to meet so many smart people while earning my MBA and work with them on group projects and presentations. The new perspectives and diversity of thought helps us all think differently about situations in the business world. Even though most of the program was remote, I still made many friends and contacts I plan to keep in touch with going forward,” he said.
Informational webinars about the MBA@Nebraska are offered monthly, including a special webinar called Meet MBA@Nebraska Faculty on Thursday, July 9, 12-1 p.m. Current and prospective student can register at https://business.unl.edu/meetMBA.
To learn more about the MBA@Nebraska, visit: https://business.unl.edu/mba/.