Alumni Stories: Jack Nolan, Jack Welch Management Institute

Alumni Stories: Jack Nolan, Jack Welch Management Institute main image

Jack Nolan studied for his online MBA at Jack Welch Management Institute (JWMI).

Before embarking on his studies, Jack had 10 years’ work experience under his belt, and held the position of Digital Marketing Specialist at Power Equipment Direct, Illinois.

Jack tells TopMBA.com why he chose JWMI and why an online MBA was the best thing for him, his family, and his busy work schedule.

What were you doing before you started your MBA? And how has the program helped you with your day-to-day work and career progression?

When I started my MBA, I was a Partner Relations Manager with Wheels Financial Group, managing over 125 B2B accounts. I continued to work full time while I attended school. 

During my second year, I took a new role as a Digital Marketing Specialist with Power Equipment Direct, an online wholesaler of outdoor power equipment. I currently manage digital marketing efforts, including campaign oversight, strategy, and content creation.

The program had a profound impact on my life. I’m a better leader and communicator, and I’ve gained skills in finance and strategy that rounded out my business acumen. I applied what I learned in the classroom to my job immediately, and was given increased management responsibilities.

The JWMI faculty members still serve as mentors to me. My professors were always accessible and approachable, gave great feedback, and broke down the courses in ways that I could apply to my job. The faculty and staff really put students first and understand the demands of attending school as a working professional.

What factors led you to pursue a graduate degree?

Earlier in my career, I founded a digital marketing agency. We grew to 30 clients, and eventually, I was offered a position with one. But I never lost my entrepreneurial passion. I wanted to return to leading people and building businesses. A few years ago, I found my career at a standstill, and decided an MBA would make me more competitive in the market.

What tools did you use to research programs and universities? Did you know you wanted to study online from the start of your research?     

In the beginning, I focused my research on MBA programs in the local Chicago market. I started by looking at schools’ online ads and presence on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

I realized an online MBA program would be a better fit for me. The traditional classroom format was a nonstarter since I traveled extensively for my job and was just starting a family.

I was browsing Twitter and saw an ad for JWMI and filled out an application.

The entire admissions experience was influential in my decision-making process. Speaking with current students to understand their experiences juggling the workload and their satisfaction with the quality of content and instruction was very helpful.

What factored into your final choice of program to study?

JWMI is led by one of the greatest leaders in modern business- Jack Welch. He personally built the program to teach students how businesses are actually run and how to lead people. As someone who started a company earlier in my career, I was attracted to Jack’s legacy and proven results in business.

It wasn’t realistic to join a program that required attending classes on campus.

I needed a program that offered maximum flexibility, and JWMI’s online, asynchronous format delivered it. And I wanted to attend a program that produced a strong ROI. JWMI’s tuition is much more affordable than other programs I researched.

Were there any specific classes, concentrations, faculty or areas of focus that attracted you to the program?

True to the differentiation model Jack championed throughout his career, the top ten percent of JWMI faculty members are rewarded; the middle 70 percent are coached and the bottom ten percent are let go. This evaluation process told me only the best professors would lead me in my MBA education.

I loved that the first course I took was in leadership. Right off the bat, I was intrigued and engaged. The class laid the foundation of the JWMI program, teaching us not only to manage people but also lead the company.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Make a schedule and stick to it, and a great support system helps!  You might have to put events, holidays, and personal time on the backburner in to dedicate enough time for reading, researching, homework, and major assignments.

My support system consisted of my amazing wife Jenna, my parents, and Jenna’s parents. My wife always encouraged me to stay focused, so I never lost track of the end goal. Her amazing support and that of my parents and Jenna’s parents pushed me until I finished my MBA.

What are the biggest benefits to studying an online program?

I was able to create a schedule that balanced work, family, and school.

The virtual JWMI classroom provides students with a global perspective. Networking and learning from my peers from across the globe was invaluable.

The online format also encourages participation from everyone in the class. In JWMI’s virtual classroom, you have to not only post your own thoughts, but also actively engage with your peers.

Written by Niamh Ollerton

Niamh is Assistant Editor of TopMBA.com, creating and editing content for an international MBA student audience. Having gained her journalism qualification at the Press Association, London and since written for different international publications, she's now enjoying telling the stories of the business world.  

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