Virtual MBA Pays Off For Hill Air Force Base Employee Before Graduation

As Benjamin Smith prepared to graduate with his MBA this spring, he knew the education would come in handy, because it already had been paying off.

Photo of Benjamin SmithA supervisor over an analysis office at Hill Air Force Base’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Smith (pictured right) came to WSU’s virtual MBA program through a partnership between his base and Weber State University. Since enrolling, he has found multiple opportunities to apply what he’s learned in the classroom to his workplace. 

“Every class that I took, I was able to take one or two things from it and then synthesize them and make them applicable to something that I’m doing today,” he said in April. 

For instance, his quantitative methods class gave him an in-depth, digestible understanding of statistics, which in turn helped him give new meaning to data in his workplace. 

Smith joined Weber State’s MBA program in 2019. The world, of course, changed a bit between then and graduation. What he thought would be an in-person program quickly changed to a virtual format (as did many things). Any concerns he might have had regarding the richness of the educational experience were soon alleviated, however. His professors were able to retool digital environments to provide rich interactions, thoughts and commentary that matched that of an in-person environment. 

While collaborating through video conferencing and calls, he appreciated how his professors knew how to harness a virtual environment to balance the advantages of online flexibility with the rigor of the curriculum.

"There's been very little difference from an in-person environment," he said. 

Another element that provided a unique advantage: Smith was part of a Hill Air Force Base program cohort, meaning he was accompanied by colleagues who could appreciate the content from a unique perspective. 

As part of the partnership, supervisors specifically choose employees to enter into the program, providing them with an excellent career opportunity while developing the institutional knowledge of the base itself. Smith benefitted from leaders who entered the program before him, and he hopes to pass his knowledge on to future program participants, creating a network of employees who can contribute to discussions and problems in nuanced ways.

WSU's virtual MBA is a viable option for others across the base, including those in supply chain management and contracting.