Student Profile: Supervisor and Employee Unlikely Partners in Penn State Online MBA Program

A story describing how two Penn State Online MBA students went from colleagues to classmates.
Esteban Perez & Mandy Lund enrolled in Penn State's online MBA together.
Otis supervisor, Esteban Perez and his employee, Mandy Lund transformed from colleagues to classmates when they enrolled in Penn State's Online MBA together.

When Mandy Lund approached her supervisor, Esteban Perez, about pursuing an online MBA degree, she did not expect him to join her pursuit, especially after he questioned her interest in online education as opposed to traditional classroom-based study. Today, the duo is in their first semester of the program.

As employees of Otis, the world’s largest manufacturer of people-moving products, including elevators, escalators and moving walkways, Lund and Perez knew they wanted to take their careers to the next level. They decided to utilize the company’s Employee Scholar Program, which covers qualified expenses for classes taken by eligible employees at approved educational institutions. The flexibility of Penn State’s online MBA program, led by the Smeal College of Business through Penn State World Campus, was particularly compelling to both of them.

As an Achieving Competitive Excellence manager at Otis, Lund wanted to find a balance between her demanding career and time spent with her family without sacrificing the quality of her education. Lund also particularly liked that Penn State required a weeklong residency to kick off the program.

“As with my bachelor’s, I did most of my degree online and I missed out on getting to know members of my classes as well as networking to learn about different organizations,” Lund said. “The ability to spend a week together with our team members and professors is the best foundation for a new student to grow throughout the program.”

Initially, Perez was skeptical about pursuing his second master’s degree online. He wanted a traditional classroom education; however, he realized it wouldn’t be a realistic option with his responsibilities at Otis, where he serves as the associate director of quality, based in Florence, South Carolina.

After talking to Lund, he realized the Penn State Online MBA would be the best option for him. He hopes the program will help him achieve the needed skills to manage businesses from all aspects.  

With a business analytics concentration, Lund believes it’s not only a great fit for her current position at Otis, but also aligns with her career goals as well. Additionally, Lund hopes that achieving new skill sets will help her to grow within her career at Otis.

“I believe learning new ways of using data will help me guide the teams and organizations I work with to even higher levels of performance and customer satisfaction,” Lund said. “The more I am comfortable with the tools and concepts needed at the leadership level, the more I can support them in achieving their high performance and growth goals.”

Having the opportunity to experience the online MBA program together has strengthened their professional relationship. The two look to each other for support, and find time to help each other as they progress through the courses. Perez and Lund share experiences, good practices and potential pitfalls with one another to help not just themselves, but their teammates as well.

“Despite being on different virtual teams in both classes, we have been able to help each other by sharing materials to read, studying together, clarifying doubts about assignments, but also and most importantly, checking the assignment due dates for the week to make sure we don’t forget them,” Perez said. 

“Having my boss in the program with me is amazing support. We can discuss the week’s activities and help each other through the tasks, as well as, help when things aren’t going as planned,” Lund said. “I think Esteban and I always had good, open communication, but now we can leverage what we are learning to help improve our organization together. 

Through their classes, Lund and Perez have developed important skills such as organization, teamwork, multi-tasking, and time management in order to keep up with assignments, study commitments, and family time.

However, their favorite part about the program is making new relationships. “The team members and friends from our intake as well as the Penn State team, make this journey extremely enjoyable, and I am excited for what the next two years has in store,” Lund said. 

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about the Penn State Online MBA.