Nebraska's online MBA students explore leadership on campus

· 4 min read

Nebraska’s online MBA students explore leadership on campus

Online MBA students came to campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to learn more about adaptive leadership. Part of a graduate course taught by Jake Messersmith (center), associate professor of management, they met with peers to create leadership plans to tackle organizational problems.
Kimberly Smith | Business
Online MBA students came to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to learn more about adaptive leadership. Part of a graduate course taught by Jake Messersmith (center), associate professor of management, they met with peers to create leadership plans to tackle organizational problems.

Online students in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s MBA@Nebraska program flocked to campus as part of a special, three-week course called Adaptive Leadership: Managing Organizational Change. While they represented different states, countries, industries and ages, the students shared the experience of exploring the fundamentals of adaptive leadership to tackle tough organizational challenges.

“The class pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the complexities of adaptive change. Through thought-provoking discussions, challenging case studies and hands-on activities, I developed a deep understanding of how to navigate and solve adaptive problems. The class gave me new insights and tools and allowed me to gain fresh perspectives from my talented peers. The exchange of ideas was invigorating and has undoubtedly shaped my approach to driving change,” said Jason Alsup, head pipeline planning and seed logistics at Bayer Crop Science.

Alsup already knew one of his classmates well — his coworker Jesse Lundgren, senior change and communications manager. Influenced by several Bayer employees who earned and are earning their MBA at Nebraska, Alsup convinced Lundgren to start the program, and now the two take their eight-week online MBA classes together.

“One of the most incredible aspects of this journey was taking the class alongside Jesse. Not only is Jesse a phenomenal leader, but also an exceptional human being. Our shared experiences and discussions added depth and richness to the learning process,” said Alsup.

Class discussions also benefited from the rich variety of students’ professional backgrounds.

“Because we have such varied backgrounds, there’s a lot of opportunity for different opinions. People like helping you see things in different ways, from different industries or positions within their organizations,” said Lundgren. “Coming from a science background, there is a ton to learn doing a business degree.”

As part of their assignment to create a leadership plan, MBA students served as consultants to their peers. After first listening to a peer's problem, they offered advice on ways to move forward.
Kimberly Smith | Business
As part of their assignment to create a leadership plan, MBA students served as consultants to their peers. After first listening to a peer's problem, they offered advice on ways to move forward.

As part of the class’s major assignment, students were split into peer consultation groups where they served as consultants for others and helped them manage through a challenge they were drafting a leadership plan to solve.

“We had a few minutes to share our problem, and our group’s facilitator asked some fact-checking questions. Then, the sharer couldn’t talk for 20 minutes while the group dove into the problem, brainstormed how to address it and offered suggestions. Giving and receiving advice from people who have nothing to do with my industry was interesting because even though we aren’t the same, we all share common issues or challenges in our jobs,” said Hallie Roman, ’22, assistant ticket manager for Nebraska Department of Athletics.

Panel discussions with business leaders and site visits across campus supplemented their learning. Beyond networking with each other, students also connected with alumni and other MBA faculty.

“The University of Nebraska–Lincoln attracts some of the brightest minds, creating an environment of collaboration and inspiration. The networking opportunities were unparalleled, and I am grateful for the meaningful connections I made with fellow change-makers and leaders,” said Alsup.

With overwhelmingly positive feedback from students about the course, Jake Messersmith, associate professor of management, and Gretchen Holthaus, director of MBA and online graduate programs, see the hybrid class as a valuable option for their online students.

“We’re glad to bring back the blended adaptive leadership course that was first offered in 2019 and paused during the pandemic. This one-week residency is perfect for those who want to build relationships face-to-face without disrupting their professional and personal obligations,” said Holthaus. “Our online students also can take advantage of other optional in-person opportunities like national case competitions and career expeditions.”

U.S. News & World Report ranked Nebraska No. 19 for best online MBA and No. 15 for best online program for veterans in 2023. MBA@Nebraska’s fully online, mobile-optimized classes are structured the same way so students can start a new class without tech stress. The eight-week courses use the Canvas platform, and classes feature guided video walkthroughs and live group discussions. To remove the barriers to applying, the MBA@Nebraska program no longer requires a GMAT or GRE score. Students can also start in the fall, spring or summer due to a rolling admissions process with priority deadlines of July 1, November 1 and April 1.

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