From an entry-level position at MCI Telecommunications to a leading role in Global Privacy Solutions at the San Francisco-based TRUSTe, Elizabeth Blass has always viewed strategy as an important part of her skillset.
Over the years, she has needed to be strategic across a variety of roles, including Regional Service Vice President in Verizon's enterprise customer division and Director of Co-Location Customer Service Operations for CME Group, a global derivatives marketplace. While there, Blass managed an around-the-clock, multi-channel support center, customer portal and quality management program.
Despite her experience, Blass felt she could learn more.
"I believe that a person can never learn enough about management and leadership," she said. "It is an ever-evolving field of study. I use strategy in nearly every part of my role and knew that sharpening my skills in this area would also be of benefit."
Due to a work schedule that includes plenty of travel, Blass sought a program that could provide the flexibility she needed to complete a master's degree. She chose the MS in Management, Strategy and Leadership program offered online by Michigan State University's Eli Broad College of Business.
"I've written papers from places such as Hong Kong, the Philippines, Seoul and Las Vegas and was able to manage school while moving cross-country for a new job," Blass said. "I even took a test in a Famous Dave's BBQ restaurant during the move, which I do not recommend.
"Prior to this program, I had not found a reputable program that I could be proud to attend. Once MSU's program was announced and I did a little research, I knew this was the answer for me. MSU's Broad College of Business has produced some fantastic leaders and has an excellent reputation."
We talked with Blass to learn more about her experiences as a member of the inaugural graduating class of Michigan State University's online MSL program.
Q. How will your MSU degree impact your professional goals?
This knowledge enhances my abilities, replenishes my toolkit and increases my confidence. Eventually, I may also pursue a higher level of education. In the near future, I would like to pursue undergraduate online teaching in addition to my current job.
Q. Have you been able to apply any of the knowledge you gained from the program?
I have been able to apply many things. I had two classes with Professor [Richard] "Doc" Gooding. Doc was great about helping us apply what we were learning to our current companies. I was able to immediately apply concepts. During the first class, I created a business scorecard and during the second class, he helped me to implement an employee survey related to our mission and vision statement.
In addition, the cohorts that I've been with since the beginning have been so impressive, knowledgeable and fun. These are connections that I will keep for a long time.
Q. Who or what drove you to succeed during the program?
I [am] the first one in my family to earn an advanced degree. I'm proud of this and it drives me.
Q. What was your No. 1 takeaway from this experience?
If you listen, you can learn so much from those around you. It is important to be a lifelong learner. I will always make time for things that matter and the things that will help me to grow.
Q. What advice would you give to others considering enrolling in the program?
You must be organized, be able to plan school around your busy life, be committed to learning and contributing to the class, and be incredibly disciplined throughout the program.
Q. Tell us something fun about yourself?
• I'm powered by Red Bull.
• I spend six weeks a year in the Philippines.
• I've run a number of half marathons.
• I haven't driven a car in four years.
• As a die-hard Iowa Hawkeye fan, I am now cheering on Sparty (don't tell my family).
Are you a student or graduate of Michigan State University's online master's degree or certificate programs? We would love to share your success story in our Student Spotlight series. Contact us at testimonial@MSUonline.com for additional details. And for more stories like this be sure to check out our Success Stories.