At the peak of the pandemic, January 2021, Cyndi Latorre started her MBA program at the College of Business. She’d opted for the hybrid program, which is usually a mix of in-person classes in Portland and fully online classes. All learning at that time was online, and she felt a little isolated.
Latorre learned that others in her cohort were feeling the same, and as a student of the organizational leadership MBA track, Latorre took action that amounts to her signature contribution to the College of Business.
“During my first term, I felt very siloed and, after talking with peers in study groups, I realized there were many students feeling similar,” Latorre said. “I talked with John Becker-Blease about being more involved in MBA student engagement and began working with him on how to engage MBA students more with professional development opportunities.”
In those times, the energy was just right to revive the MBA Association, a student club for College of Business graduate students, and Latorre became their president.
Latorre, who continued to work full-time for Intel as a project and program manager while completing her MBA, describes the club revival as “a heavy lift, but one I was happy and passionate to carry.”
Starting with feedback from her fellow grad students, and assessment of the tools at hand, Latorre turned her attention to OSU systemwide software, Microsoft Teams, to build the first level of communications. Students were feeling both a disconnect from happenings and opportunities, while at the same time, an inundation of emails.
“Microsoft Teams provides a fantastic opportunity for communication to students in real time,” Latorre said. “Teams has the ability to provide channels for open communication, multiple chat channel development for cohorts, and can easily be installed on any students’ phone as an app.”
Students could immediately connect each other, communicate directly to OSU contacts, and begin building their networks. Communications became more efficient.
“Starting the MBAA seemed like the best opportunity to get students involved and informed of professional development opportunities, as well as with other students and with the program as a whole. With a ‘for students, by students’ mentality, we are confident that the MBAA will not only help students connect about professional development opportunities, but also encourages networking, gathering and connecting with each other, building and fostering a strong connection between students and OSU.”
Latorre also worked on the structure for the continuation of the MBAA.
To further advance the association, and for its continuation, Latorre with the new club leaders have written a constitution and by-laws. As well they set up a transition process in place for new MBAA core council members, to replace those who are graduating. Additionally, Latorre wrote a Grad Student Development Plan for the association to use as a guide on what types of professional development events to provide for students along their MBA experience and a manual of processes and procedures on how to maintain current implementations, such as the MBAA Teams Site and events planning and scheduling.
So, Latorre has made a lasting contribution to the college during her studies, but she also takes away a rich set of skills for herself:
“The most valuable thing I learned is how innovation, productivity and efficiency of organizations and processes can be highly positively impacted by diversity of thought.”
“The MBA program was a life-changing experience for me. The program is more than about the education, it is about the experience of learning, growing and developing into a more experienced professional. I want to say thank you to the professors who invested time and effort into our education. I want to thank John Becker-Blease for collaborating with me and helping me develop as a leader, a consultant and providing me guidance throughout our work together. “To all students: we are constantly pulled in different directions with so many things to do – remember to take time to be present during your MBA experience and to make those connections with others and with the university. Take advantage of what OSU has to offer, and have fun with your peers. The MBA program has students of all ages, experience, and diversity – remember diversity of thought fuels innovation. I am wiser and a better leader from the help and knowledge I received from the friends I’ve made throughout this journey.”