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Innovation and Connection: An MBA Q&A with WPI Business School Students

DEPARTMENT(S): 
March 17, 2022

The MBA: A Solid Investment

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WPI MBA Students Justin Deveau and Heath Oikle

It’s easy to see why a Master of Business Administration (MBA) continues to be one of the most popular degrees at the graduate level. The MBA degree equips graduates with many transferable skills, enabling them to advance in their careers—and it remains a solid investment. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, 98 percent of universities that offer MBA programs report that their graduates earn more money two years after graduating than they borrowed to obtain their degree.

At WPI, we offer an MBA program that’s built on our legacy of innovation. The Business School’s MBA program is STEM-focused, and it equips students with technical and analytical expertise that’s critical in today’s business world. Uniquely, the STEM MBA program features 20 specialization options, ranging from supply chain management to entrepreneurship; this allows students to bring added value to their current organization or explore a new field. WPI’s MBA program is also offered fully online with an asynchronous schedule, making it easier for students to balance school, work, and family.

A WPI MBA Q&A

Of course, no one can speak to the program better than actual students. Recently, WPI sat down with two MBA students, Justin Deveau and Heath Oikle, for a Q&A to discuss their experience in the program, the personal connections they made, and how their graduate degree would help them in their respective careers.

WPI: Justin and Heath, thank you for taking time to chat with us. To get started, you both have science backgrounds. What led you to want to pursue your MBA?

Justin: As my career progressed, I moved into a much more business-focused role. I got to a point in my career where I was in a good place with the science background, but I needed some catching up from a business perspective; I needed to learn the vernacular and the strategy in order to be competitive with my peers and drive value back to my organization.

Heath: I really wanted to better understand the people I was working with; I work in a high-tech, fast-paced space. So, the engineering piece was what drew me to [The Business School]. And the fact that it was a blended program with in-person and online sessions was a really big piece of it.

WPI: What other factors impacted your decision to choose WPI for your MBA? Justin, we know you also have a degree in biology from WPI.

Justin: I was drawn to WPI as an alumnus because it’s near and dear to my heart, but also because I was familiar with the project-based values of the school. You’re given a lot of freedom to come up with your own innovative ideas. The blended approach was also a value-add, given where my family is based.

WPI: Our school bridges technology and business, and of course our MBA courses have a STEM focus. How did this approach affect what you were able to learn in the program?

Justin: You can have the greatest idea, but if you’re not able to bring a strategy together and have a progression forward, you’re not going to get it anywhere. At WPI, that’s where a lot of this innovation starts and having the experience there makes you feel a lot more comfortable for what may come down the road. For me, it’s been highly valuable to see business principles through a technology lens and vice-versa.

Heath: And to add to that, if I’m in sales, I’m not going to sit in R&D and see how a product [is evaluated] or how it works. Getting outside, real-world perspectives and understanding the technical side of business gives you a holistic view of the industry you’re in.

WPI: Now, this is cool. For seven weeks of your program, your cohort worked together in person on competitive business plans for your capstones. What was that experience like?

Justin: The competitive, albeit friendly, nature of these projects has brought out the best in all of us. We never wanted to stop. And you’re going to get that in the real working world. That’s helped us dig deep with these projects and get a lot more out of them. After taking part in this capstone, I’m confident that I could take something like what I just presented and get it to market.

WPI: We’re glad to hear you got so much out of that project. Tell us about some of the connections you were able to make in your group.

Justin: I have friends who are getting their MBAs, but most of them are in impersonal programs that lack a connection to their school and community. Heath and I have really become friends throughout this experience, and we have a very strong connection within our cohort. And that’s a network you keep growing.

Heath: There’s a lot of value in building relationships inside and outside the [MBA program]. It only helps growth and development later. [This program] has reminded me to be open to other perspectives. I’ve worked with people in careers ranging from finance, to rocket science, to utilities. It’s really valuable seeing how different people approach the same problem.

Justin, who works as a manager of medical devices for Genzyme, and Heath, who works as executive territory manager for Biosense Webster, will be graduating with their STEM MBAs from The WPI Business School in the spring of 2022. And both agree that just as valuable as the new skills they can use right away in their careers are the personal connections they’ve made along the way.

To learn more about WPI’s MBA program and how to start building your own skills and connections, visit our website.

Explore Our Other Business Programs

Are you interested in pursuing a career in the supply chain field where you can manage goods and meet the demand for products and services? Explore our master’s in operations management and supply chain analytics, a STEM-designated degree that prepares students for distribution and fulfillment of goods and services. Maybe you’re curious about a career in user experience? Our master’s in user experience provides students world-class expertise and resources in UI UX that they can take to technological environments. Are you driven by information technology, business analytics, and management principles? Consider earning a master’s in information technology, where you will learn how to create business opportunities by leveraging information technology and analytics tools.