Online delivery attracts long-time businessman

After 20 years in business, Craig Emblem earns his MBA

Craig Emblem has worked in finance for the better part of 20 years. While he always had the goal of earning an MBA, working more than 40 hours a week was a challenge that felt unsurmountable. The time he thought he needed to invest was intimidating, so he procrastinated for the better part of a decade.

While doing some research about MBAs, Craig stumbled upon the University of Fredericton (UFred). He was immediately attracted to the online delivery method.

“It made sense to me as I am an avid fan of technology and learning at my own pace. Being able to attend class and study at home versus rushing to class after work and sitting in traffic was a true benefit,” he said.

Craig earned a Bachelor of Commerce in International Management from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business. Since then, he’s worked for small private companies and large corporate companies. Given his previous experience, UFred’s Global Leadership stream was an obvious choice.

Craig, who was born and raised in Montreal, Que., decided to enrol at UFred partly because he liked that UFred is a Canadian institution, and because the program is relevant to today’s global business environments.

“The educational streams were attractive and appeared more logical to today’s global business world. Sometimes MBA programs are too methodological, and some are too caught up in the past. I wanted to make sure that my MBA education was current and poised for the future,” he said.

Craig was particularly impressed with UFred’s IT infrastructure. He says he never had any issues with the online tools or delivery of classes online, which made his experience working with peers and professors even more enjoyable.

“Working through online collaborative tools, I felt as if I was close to my classmates, especially when working in groups and delivering online presentations,” he said.

He noted that his classmates offered highly relevant working experiences in several industries, which added value to the weekly class discussions. Sometimes there were friendly disagreements between classmates about topics or experience, and it would result in a debate that he says was highly educational.

“I can remember being in my first class, not knowing what to expect from my peers. Our first in-class discussion was very interesting. The input from students was fantastic and very motivating because I could relate and was curious about their experiences.”

It wasn’t just his classmates he developed a close relationship with. While he was impressed with most professors and their knowledge of the core subjects, some were more impactful than others.

“I remain friends with one professor in particular that I felt truly believed in the ideas and success of his students. This means a lot to me, and I cherish that relationship,” Craig said.

Many students are concerned about the quality of teaching with online education. Craig was no different.

“That was a concern that was quickly eliminated,” he said. “Most professors taught in ways that made online learning educational and fun.”

Craig is one of the students who participated in the International Field Study – an option available as part of the final integration project where students travel abroad to attend specialized workshops and speak with foreign business leaders.

“This was my biggest highlight and, in my opinion, the most relevant for solidifying my MBA education,” Craig said, adding that because the experience was at the end of the program, it forced students to apply the knowledge they accumulated throughout the program to the final project.

“For me, this style of learning was very impactful. I will also add that meeting many of my classmates in person in Amsterdam was enriching, and long-lasting friendships and professional connections were made,” he added.

Above all else, Craig’s experience at UFred taught him to think more critically and to challenge the status quo in business.

“Let’s face it – the global business environment changes very quickly and information that was relevant yesterday may become obsolete today or tomorrow. Therefore, future business leaders must remain agile and diligent,” he said.

In Craig’s current role, he works closely with senior leaders on strategic budgets and future profit estimations. Now, he’s able to challenge the plans.

“For example, when sales increase, why doesn’t profit? Are the manufacturing costs overrun, and can we implement lean operations to improve profit and compete with our competition? My UFred MBA – no doubt – has highly improved my awareness and capability to bring value to the company I work for.”

Craig believes his MBA has made him more adaptable and a more strategic thinker.

“They say that a degree is earned, but what’s more important is how the individual applies that knowledge and leverages it in their day-to-day experience that really brings the most value. In fact, peers and managers often comment on how my contributions and ideas really make a difference. Additionally, I am able to participate in strategic discussions and – more importantly – can evaluate these discussions in depth towards the goals and objectives of the company.”

Craig encourages both current and future students to take advantage of the online education UFred provides.

“And don’t be shy about bringing your own experience, including your successes and failures, to the class discussions. Everything is relevant, and others will either learn from it or provide insight that will be helpful,” he said.

Craig says he’s experienced tremendous growth throughout the MBA process, which will only accelerate. He believes his MBA experience and new knowledge in strategy brings high value to organizations.

“My short-term goal is to finalize and secure my area of expertise in finance. I want to become a subject matter expert in my field, which means leveraging my MBA to focus in on strengths and weaknesses. My long-term goal is to become an effective leader, bringing value and insight to the business world. More specifically, I want to prove that my MBA education and experience make me a strategic gain for any business. This includes being involved in decision making, financial analysis for profit optimization, and mentoring others around me,” he said.

Craig advises current students to take the coursework very seriously to benefit from the value each course adds.

“Online learning can feel easier than classroom learning at times, but it really isn’t. Students should remain on top of their readings and assignments at all times,” he offered.