Since Nicole Williams began working as an administrative assistant at Case Engineering, an Evansville-based industrial air compressor controls provider, she has steadily worked her way up to management.
Williams plans to continue growing with the help of the online Master of Business Administration program from the University of Southern Indiana.
“The company was recently purchased by a larger corporation headquartered in Macon, Georgia,” Williams said. “In order to advance my career through this larger company, I felt like the MBA would be a good asset. The MBA opens up doors to more opportunities.”
Williams now works in business development as she approaches her eight-year anniversary with Case Controls. She formulates proposals, gathers information from customers in order to design a product to meet their needs, manages the product after a purchase order is received and passes the order on to the engineers, and then to the customer.
“It’s really a broad spectrum of the business,” she said. “There are a lot of good things happening in the company, and I like being a part of that. It is great to see the company thrive, grow and go to the next level.”
Home, Sweet Home
Williams enrolled in the online MBA program at USI for several reasons, including familiarity and tuition cost. She graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Business Administration in economics and finance in 2008.
“I compared this MBA with [those offered by] other schools and the cost was a big plus,” she said. “I am originally from the Lexington, Kentucky area, but I’ve been in Evansville for about 20 years.”
Williams was part of the first group of students to enroll in the 100 percent online MBA program at USI. She has been very pleased with the results so far.
“It’s been absolutely excellent,” she said. “It’s really made things a lot easier. I couldn’t imagine having to go out to the school and take a class. There’s just not enough time in the day. Working full-time, that would mean working nights and weekends to fit all of that in.
“Now that it’s online, when I have some available time during the day, I’m able to log on, get some work done and go back to my regular job. Otherwise, you’re really stuck to a specific time during a specific day of the week to meet on campus and scheduling time to meet your professors. This online format has really made a big difference.”
In order to accelerate her completion date, Williams is taking additional courses. She plans to double her course load for the next semester.
“There is additional work I need to put into the online [program], but that’s part of the trade-off,” she said. “If you’re in class, you are able to ask questions. With the online format, I find myself researching more and more to find the answers.”
Williams is enrolled in the general MBA program, but she plans to take an extra course in order to complete the Data Analytics specialization since it applies heavily to her job. One of the courses in that specialization, BAN 602: Data-Driven Decision Making, has been her favorite in the MBA program to date.
“It wasn’t really a typical statistics class — it was analyzing data,” she said. “I really enjoy data analytics. I thought it was the most challenging class so far, but I really enjoyed it. I put in a lot of time and effort. I learned a lot of different ways of analyzing data that I didn’t even know were possible. It was very interesting.”
For Williams, the work experience she gained before she enrolled in the MBA program has made all the difference to understanding and applying the curriculum to her career.
“Going into graduate school right after the undergraduate level, I don’t know if I would have got as much out of the program because there’s not a lot of life experience,” she said. “Once you get some of that under your belt, things start making sense with what you learn at the graduate level.
“However, if somebody has an opportunity right after undergraduate, I’d still say go for it. Absolutely.”
Williams, an avid Kentucky Wildcats fan who regularly attends football and basketball games and also likes to boat, has enjoyed the support of her friends and family as she returns to school 10 years after she earned her bachelor’s degree.
“They think it’s great,” she said. “They think it’s a good move for me and are supportive and wish me well.”
Williams knows she is putting herself in a position for even more success.
“I think the MBA will help open some doors and provide opportunities,” Williams said. “It will be time and money well invested.”