Professional Opportunity: Engineer expands horizons in Hendricks County MBA program

By: Austin Arceo, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
September 30, 2013

Six months after moving to Avon from South Carolina, Will Mansard checked his mailbox to find a postcard from Indiana State University that rekindled a flame - and changed his life.

Mansard received a notice for Indiana State's ProMBA program in Plainfield, which prompted him to reconsider his previously postponed plans to pursue graduate school. Mansard, who works as an engineer at Rolls Royce, wanted to gain the business lessons and skills to broaden his future career prospects. While he had strong technical skills thanks to his engineering degree from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, he lacked the business background needed to advance his career.

"It was one of those things that I had put off, and now I'm actually going back and doing it," Mansard said of pursuing his MBA. "I had looked at lots of online programs before the mailer came. I saw that the ProMBA program was really close to home, and also, that I was actually able to attend classroom sessions with an instructor."

The ProMBA program is designed for professionals with at least five years of career experience, said Jeff Harper, director of graduate programs for the Scott College of Business at Indiana State. The average student in the program is 33 years old.

"Virtually anyone, regardless of the discipline of their job, if promoted to a management position, is going to need a different skill set from the skill set that got them there," Harper said. "That's where the ProMBA comes in."

The program is intentionally designed so that students can balance the demands of work, school and a family without having to sacrifice. Graduates receive the same MBA as students taking classes on campus in downtown Terre Haute. The Scott College is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an accreditation that fewer than 5 percent of the world's business programs receive.

"Going in I was apprehensive, but the program is tailored to a working professional," said Mansard, who is married with two children, ages 4 and 2. "Everyone in the program works 40 hours per week, and the professors are very keen on allowing the students to balance professional responsibilities with school."

Students also benefited by learning from each other, Mansard said. While the class would read the basic principles and lessons from the textbook, the students would then discuss how those principles were implemented by drawing on their years of experience in their respective fields and occupations.

Mansard was very talented in numerical analysis and computations, which he discussed with classmates not as strong in the area, Harper said. Meanwhile, Mansard benefited from learning from classmates who had more experience in management and additional business-related jobs, the professor added.

"That's where the value of the Professional MBA is for the students," Harper said. "For many of them to take the next step in their career, they need an MBA. They differentiate themselves from the other really well-accomplished professionals in their field by obtaining an MBA from a top accredited, rigorous, professional program."

Class meets at a site in the Plainfield Industrial Park near Interstate-70, allowing for easy access from across central Indiana. Class meets once per week, with dinner catered for students on those nights.

"It's only one day per week when you can get it all in, and the rest of the week is at your discretion, when you want to get your homework done," Mansard said. "While each class had different workloads, I never felt like I was overwhelmed with too much work that I couldn't get done. I was always able to achieve a good balance between work, school and my personal life."

The ProMBA program is a great opportunity for professionals at any stage in their career to gain additional training and knowledge to be successful as they pursue opportunities for advancement, said Brien Smith, dean of the Scott College. The program will continue to be in demand, he added, as more people return to college for additional training to make themselves - and their employers - more successful.

"This program fills a great need, as an increasing number of people who have completed a bachelor's degree are now at a point in their career where a top-accredited MBA can open new doors of opportunity for them," Smith said. "Our program provides students with the theoretical knowledge and lessons, while they also learn from our professors and classmates who are established professionals how those lessons can be implemented to lead to their success."

Mansard, who graduated with his MBA this summer, is eagerly anticipating the future. He still has goals to accomplish in his current position before pursuing the next chapter in his career. He is confident that he will be successful when he begins to pursue his new endeavors.

"I'm still fairly early in my career," Mansard said. "It's going to be a longer term impact for me in that as I advance my career, having my MBA will allow me to be more competitive for jobs I want."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Events-by-Year/2013/MBA-Class-2013/i-zrGZsS3/0/L/June%2006%2C%202013-MBA%20Master%20Class%202013%200742-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Indiana State University graduate Will Mansard, far right, talks with several classmates earlier this year during a session in the Professional MBA (ProMBA) program in Plainfield. Mansard pursued his MBA to gain more skills as his career advances. He wanted the business lessons and skills to supplement his background as an engineer.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Events-by-Year/2013/MBA-Class-2013/i-gdXDBVH/0/L/June%2006%2C%202013-MBA%20Master%20Class%202013%200783-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Indiana State University graduate Will Mansard.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Events/Events-by-Year/2013/MBA-Class-2013/i-DPXSjRn/0/L/June%2006%2C%202013-MBA%20Master%20Class%202013%200801-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)The Professional MBA program in Plainfield during a class session earlier this year.

Contact: Jeff Harper, director of graduate programs, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2279 or jeff.harper@indstate.edu

Writer: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or austin.arceo-negrich@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

Will Mansard, an engineer at Rolls Royce, is among the first graduates from ISU's ProMBA program in Plainfield. He had wanted to return to school for his MBA, and was attracted to the Indy-area program that provided classroom sessions for professionals.

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