Online MBA Program: Exploring the Intersection Between Finance and Marketing

Online MBA Program: Exploring the Intersection Between Finance and Marketing

Listen to Dr. James 'Jim' Mahar and Paul Barretta talk about how St. Bonaventure's online MBA program incorporates both finance and marketing concepts and how it can help advance your career!


00:04 Ashley Zeman: Hello everyone and welcome. Thank you for joining us for today's webinar on the Master of Business Administration program at St. Bonaventure University. In today's discussion we will cover a general overview of the online MBA program, then further explore the intersection of finance and marketing, two of the program's emphasis areas. Before we get started, I'd like to cover a few housekeeping items with you. You are in broadcast-only mode which means you can hear us, but we cannot hear you. During the webinar, please feel free to type any questions into the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen. We've reserved some time at the end of the presentation to answer all of your questions.

00:47 AZ: Here are our speakers for today's presentation. I'm Ashley Zeman, I'll be your moderator. I'm joined by Mary Katherine Howard, an admissions counselor for the program, whom some of you may have already spoken with. We're also joined by Dr. Paul Barretta who is an Associate Professor of Marketing, and also Department of Marketing chair at St. Bonaventure. He holds a PhD with a concentration in Marketing from The University of Texas. He's been with St. Bonaventure for a little over five years. Prior to entering academia, he worked for approximately 12 years in finance and marketing, mostly in the music, media, and entertainment industries. He teaches marketing management and market research. And his primary areas of interest are consumer behavior, cultural industry products, music marketing and sports marketing.

01:39 AZ: We're also joined by Dr. James 'Jim' Mahar, Associate Professor of Finance. He's a St. Bonaventure alumni with an MBA from Simon School at the University of Rochester and a PhD from Penn State. He has run several small businesses, including grocery stores, and now a Hemp startup company. Jim is best known for his work with non-profit organizations around the globe. He's the founder of several charity groups, most notably, BonaResponds, Haiti Scholarships, and PositiveRipples. In conjunction with these programs, he has led well over a 100 relief trips to 18 states and several countries. The programs have helped fund hundreds of micro loans, established schools and water wells and agricultural programs and talked finance, and economics in Haiti, Liberia, the Bahamas and Sierra Leone. He teaches several online classes, but his favorite is behavioral finance.

02:40 AZ: Here's a quick agenda for today. We'll talk about St. Bonaventure and the online MBA program, then dive into a topical discussion around finance and marketing. We'll then wrap up with admissions information and finally leave time for any questions you might have. Dr. Barretta, I'll turn it over to you now to share a little bit of information about St. Bonaventure.

03:05 Paul Barretta: Okay. St. Bonaventure, by the way, I think I typed it wrong probably. I actually spent 25 years in industry before coming to St. Bonaventure. And I only bring that up because St. Bonaventure was one of several schools that I had gotten offers from when I was on the job market. This is my fifth year. Well, I just finished my fifth year, so I'm in my sixth year. The reason I came here is because there's a very mentoring-type of relationship between students and faculty and the faculty are all very focused on understanding our students as people. Because we're AACSB accredited, which we'll talk a little bit about in the next slide, we're all required to do research and teaching. St. Bonaventure, leans a little bit more towards the teaching side of that equation. And the reason I bring all this up is because when we designed the online MBA program, the faculty was very, very involved with developing these programs and these courses. A, to match the on-ground MBA program, and B, to make sure that the courses themselves were designed in a way that are very interactive because we're just so used to dealing with students on a regular basis. I'll talk a little bit more about that in the next slide.

04:40 PB: But what brought me here was really the love of education that comes from the faculty both in terms of teaching and research. They actually grilled me pretty hard when I was making my research presentation and I thought, "Yep, that's the place for me," because I had also met the students and the students bring out the best in the faculty in terms of teaching. And all of that we made sure got transitioned into the online MBA program as it was developed. And you can see the fast facts that were there. Okay, now I'm going to turn it back over for the online MBA program. And I'll join in towards the end of that to talk about accreditation.

05:24 Mary Katherine Howard: Hi, I'm Mary Katherine, I'm one of the Admissions Advisor here at St. Bonaventure for our online MBA program. So little bit about the program. It is between 30 and 42 credit hours, so the amount of credits that you will need to take will be dependent on your background in education as well as your work experience. So, once we get your resume and transcript in, it will be evaluated, and you'll get a personalized plan of study that matches you. Our program includes foundation courses for nine credits, core business courses for 12 credits and graduate electives. Our program is 100% online and again, the links will vary between 20 months and two-and-a-half years based off your plan of study. There are five tracks within our program. We have accounting, business analytics, finance, marketing, and general business and our program is designed for a busy working professional. So, we are accredited through AACSB, which is the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business. And Dr. Barretta will go through what that means. And why that is important to us.

06:35 PB: Thank you, yeah, AACSB is our accrediting body, we would say. Only about less than 5% of schools in the world have that accreditation for MBA program. Well, for business schools and a portion of those have MBA programs. And the importance of it is that there are guidelines that we have to follow when we design courses, and we design, and we plan out who's going to teach those courses. So, it has to be a certain percentage of PhD level instructors designing and teaching the courses, and that also got translated over into the MBA program. And why that's important is, and it actually affects what we're talking about today. When we designed the MBA program, just about two years ago, two or three years ago, we went in and made sure everything was as contemporary as possible, with the MBA program. And one of the things that we did was we had a representative from each department and we talked about how our disciplines interact with each other, both in the curriculum as well as within organizations. So, we talked about things like what does pricing mean to finance versus marketing. And we did that for every discipline, and we made sure that our curriculum reflected that.

08:05 PB: So, when I'm teaching the MBA 612 course, I know what you're learning in your finance course and your accounting course and this way I work that into the content. And we're very careful to do that. And that's consistent with the AACSB guidelines as well. And so, when we designed the online program, we made sure that all of that got transferred into the online MBA program. Alright, yeah, if there's any questions about that during the Q&A, you can bring that up. But it's one of the things we like about our program. Well, we like a lot of things about our program, but one of the things that makes us distinctive in our eyes is to see that that comes through in all of our classes, especially the core courses.

08:58 AZ: Great. And Mary Katherine's going to talk a little bit more about the online experience.

09:04 MH: So, with our program, we operate on what's called a 717 model, which means you take one class at a time for seven weeks, you have a one week break and then you take your next class for seven weeks. So therefore, you're still taking two classes a semester, but you are doing them consecutively, not concurrently. The virtual learning environment helps the students facilitate with the faculty. So, Dr. Barretta will talk a little bit more about that in a second. But it's important to know that there are no set login times. So, this is a flexible program. And you can login at the time that's convenient for you. You'll be applying the content and skills in the courses to your area of business. And you'll receive one-on-one attention from the faculty members, and we have a student success advisor who will be with you through your time in the program that can assist you with anything that you would need help with. Dr. Barretta, do you want to talk more about that one-on-one attention from the faculty members?

10:04 PB: Sure, it stems from things I was talking about earlier about, what brought me to St. Bonaventure and about how we designed the MBA Program. We find we have a lot of tools for interacting with the students, and that's important to our faculty as I said earlier. For example, in my courses, I have a weekly Zoom session, and Zoom is like Skype on steroids I would say if you haven't seen it. And what I do is each week, I put out if you've heard of a doodle, which is a way of scheduling and in the beginning or before each week, I find out who's available when for the following week, and we find a time where in the beginning, it's where most students can join, and then as the seven weeks goes by it becomes, if people haven't had a chance to join as many of the sessions, we'll tailor it to the time when they're available. And by doing this we make sure that as many students as possible get as much of that one-on-one interaction, as part of a conference call, video conference. Usually about 60%-70%, depending on the class, at least 50%-70% can join live, and the ones who don't join live can view a recording of it that's available to them either that night or the next day depending on how late it goes.

11:33 PB: And then we create a special discussion board to carry on that discussion because a lot of times things will come up during the conversation. Maybe we're on for anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour-and-15 minutes, sometimes longer. But if someone wasn't there live, they don't get a chance to contribute or ask questions. So, we then create a discussion board where that gets carried on with all of the students. Separately from that, all of our professors are reachable by email, by video conference, by telephone call. I'm always getting phone calls and emails from students with specific questions. And as I said before, because we have this mindset of being more teaching-focused than research-focused, both are important but most of our faculty are geared toward helping students through with very interactive tools.

12:33 James 'Jim' Mahar: If I could just jump in there for a second, I completely agree and to the point where the first thing I do to my students is give them my cell phone, we have a WhatsApp thread that, it takes off, it really becomes a community much more than I expected when we started. They share Halloween pictures, they show pictures of their pets, they show just everything. And I may take it to the extreme, but during the semester, I may get 50 to a 100 messages. Just some of them, "Hey, what's the weather in different parts of the country," et cetera. So, it really becomes a community. You're not out there on your own. And I can't stress that enough.

13:18 PB: Even on the Zoom sessions, I've had many pets and toddlers show up on the Zoom sessions, on the live sessions.

13:30 AZ: Alright. So, as we move into our topical discussion about finance and marketing, we're going to start with this question: How do you see marketing and finance intersect in a business or organization? If you could type your answer into the Q&A box below, I can read off some of the responses. Give you a minute or two.

14:00 PB: By the way, this is an example of us being interactive.

14:05 JM: Sure.

14:09 AZ: So, go ahead and click that Q&A box at the bottom of your screen and type in your answer. You can actually type it in where it says question and then submit that over and we'll read off some of the answers. We would love to hear from you.

14:33 PB: And if you don't have any thoughts on it, that's fine. That was really our way of gauging what your thoughts are on the subject before we went to the next slides.

14:47 AZ: Alright, we'll dive into the topic and if I see anything come through Dr. Barretta, I will let you know.

14:53 PB: Okay, that's fine. Okay Jim, do you want to start with this one? Or do you want me?

15:04 JM: You can, or I can. It doesn't make any difference.

15:08 PB: Okay, I'll start, and you feel free to interrupt me.

15:12 JM: Okay. Start.

15:14 PB: So, as I said earlier, one of the things that we looked at when we were sprucing up the MBA program for on-ground and online a few years ago, was the interactions. And where we started was where do these interactions happen in the workplace within your organization? And then we mapped that to our courses. So, the important part about this is why these interactions exist. And for those of you who are working in an organization, you'll recognize that even within one discipline, within one functional area, it doesn't happen in a vacuum. If I'm working on a product development team and we decide we want to create this new feature, we have to A, find out how much it's going to cost. B find out if it's going to be something that's worth budgeting for and then work with the accounting department to do a new break-even analysis, things like that. We'll talk about that in one of the more specific slides later. Jim, do you want to add anything?

16:23 JM: Just to interrupt. Yeah, just to interrupt. I mean right now, as I mentioned earlier, I'm going through... Or one of the businesses I run, we're going through a fundraising portion and every investor wants to know what our marketing forecasts are, how are we going to market it, what are our pricing mechanisms? I am convinced. The era of silos where you just could be good at one area is so far gone. If you're a finance person who can't speak marketing or if you're a marketing person who can't speak finance, you're really going to limit your upside.

16:58 PB: Very true. Also, I'll add, in Dr. Mahar's bio, it talked about his interest in behavioral finance. Behavioral finance and behavioral economics, those are areas that are very much in line with marketing and in marketing, our consumer behavior area is very much in line with behavioral finance and behavioral economics.

17:27 JM: Agree. I agree with you. Right. Are we going to answer the questions or how do you want to do it next?

17:39 PB: Are there questions yet?

17:42 AZ: Yeah, we got a couple of responses. "All marketing decisions are financially based and vice versa," and "Through looking at how marketing techniques bring in revenue for the business." Those are the two answers that we got.

18:00 JM: Absolutely.

18:00 PB: Okay. Very good.

18:02 JM: And they clearly are integrated throughout. And I think what we do at St. Bonaventure is really start that early on. It's not, as you said before that it's not just you go over and study this, and you would then come over and study a finance class. I talk to Paul and other professors almost on a weekly basis, "What's going on in your class?" And we tailor them. So, in some cases, the same case will be done through different eyes. So sometimes it's focusing on the marketing aspect of the company, sometimes you're focusing on the accounting, sometimes on the finance, and sometimes even on the HR or management side. So, it really does make it a much more inclusive, and much fuller experience, I think.

18:43 PB: Indeed. And I want to address directly what Ashley just read on or spoke to us, all marketing decisions are financially-based and vice versa. That's a very good point, and one of the things that we talked about on this slide here, the third bullet point, numbers is sometimes the language that a business or non-profit organization speaks. Agreed. And the reason why finance and marketing have so much interaction is sometimes those numbers are interpreted differently in two different places. Marketing has a bit more subjectivity to it. So, I used an example before about a feature, should we add a feature to a product? Well, if finance is going to tell us how much it's going to cost to do that, and there might be a finance person that says, "If you do that, you're going to drive up our cost by 20%." In marketing, we'll look at that and say, "Thank you for the number. We figured that, but there's a section of our market, there's one small segment of our market, that very much wants this particular feature and we need to find out if they're willing to pay an extra 20% to 30% to do that, before we make that decision."

20:12 PB: So, numbers is the business, and is the kind of the language of business, and marketing decisions, and financially-based decisions affect each other very much. It's just that a lot of times we look at the same numbers, and we interpret them differently, and that's where that collaboration happens. And Jim just talked about breaking down silos. In organizations and in programs like ours, it's important to not have those silos because they... Not having silos means that I can go to... So, if instead of being a finance professor and a marketing professor, Jim and I were chief marketing officer and chief financial officer, as Jim pointed out, before we have to know enough about each other's functions. So, I would go to Jim and say, "I thank you for the numbers, and here's what I'm thinking." And when I can go back to him and say, "We have 7% of our market that would want this feature. Let's look at these numbers together and recognize that if 7% of our market is willing to pay more for this feature, then it's worth going in and creating an alternative product line," for example. Does that make sense?

21:37 JM: It does to me.

21:38 AZ: Yeah.

21:40 PB: Okay.

21:43 AZ: Alright, shall we move into the first example?

21:49 PB: Sure. I think we kind of probably jumped ahead a little bit, but I'll let Jim start off on this one.

21:58 JM: So maybe I'm not sure which slide I'm supposed to be looking at right now.

22:02 PB: Profit responsibility.

22:06 JM: Where'd it go? Okay, there we go. Okay, yeah. So, clearly, we have each unit, or business unit here we call them, has profit responsibilities, and that could be a division, that could be a whole small office. And if you don't know how to track that, and if you don't have profits at least somewhere in the future, you're not really going to have much ongoing success. And to get that we really need to be marketing. And I think, at some level, and I don't want to give Paul and other marketing people too big a swelled head, but I really think the world comes down to marketing in the end. We have to get the word out to people, we have to know what the product is. What does the market want? If we don't know our market, we may make the best whatever-it-is, but if the market doesn't want it, we're not going to sell it. And if we can't do it at a profit, finance isn't going to fund it. Over and over and over again this collaboration is necessary, and it needs to be across all areas. We're clearly speaking finance and marketing here, but we also have to get operations involved. The entirety has to be holistic, and to look at a business as a series of parts doesn't make sense, it has to be a whole, and I think that's my big thing I want to point out, that everything has to fit in together.

23:32 PB: I definitely agree with that. I also want to address a word that Jim just used, which is that he talked about knowing what the customers want. Now, I won't go into too much detail, but basically marketing has changed in the past 25 years. From trying to convince people they need something, to first finding out what they want. When I teach a class, I talk about good marketing guy and bad marketing guy... Or girl. Bad marketing guy or girl is trying to convince you need something. Contemporary marketing is let's find out what people want first and then give it to them at a price... At a... With a particular product that meets the wants that they have. And now to do that, one of the ways we do that is through strategic business units, which that's from an organizational perspective. If I'm a product manager, then I'm in charge of the profitability of my product category and therefore I need to work with finance department to constantly stay on top of how we're doing compared to what we forecasted we should do. So that's, again, where that collaboration comes in.

24:51 JM: Completely agree.

24:53 PB: Yep, yeah.

24:55 JM: And one area that really plays out and I see this in everything, in grocery stores, in airlines, whatever, in cannabis, et cetera is pricing. And, I mean, pricing is a very important decision that we all have to make and that cuts across all areas of the business. Paul, do you want to talk a little about it from the marketing aspect?

25:19 PB: Sure. Pricing is a very, very powerful tool when it comes to marketing. A lot of people who learned about marketing, kind of as an undergraduate or in high school even, think about the 4Ps. And most marketing professors have a love-hate relationship with the 4Ps. And the 4Ps basically, are product, price... The heat part's coming out of me, just bizarre to think... Product, price, promotion and place, and place is distribution. The problem with the 4Ps is that everything that doesn't fit into product, pricing, or place, goes into promotion, and therefore, it gets lost. But pricing is an important part of what we call the "marketing mix", which is the newer way of looking at what used to be called the 4Ps. And it's such a powerful tool for so many reasons. First of all, it's a value indicator. If you see four versions of a product on a shelf, you might be like, "Oh I want the best version, but I don't need to spend all that much money."

26:29 PB: So, you're going to go for the third highest version of what you're looking at. A lot of times that's done on purpose because we know that that's psychologically, that's where people's brains go. And so, there's a lot of psychology, from pricing to the... A term that I'd like to use called "price to the want". So, what we do is we consult with finance and we consult with accounting. We know where the break-even point is, so in other words, we can't go lower than this price without losing money. And some strategists say it's okay to lose money on one thing if you're gaining it on another, but the most important thing is understanding what people want. Because, going back to the example I used early and to make it more specific, if we're selling automobiles and there's this special feature that will keep your coffee warm for seven hours in your coffee holder cup, well, not everyone's really going to want to pay that money, but there's certain people who do, well, who find it worth it. Well, if we can create that and it costs an extra $70 when you buy your car, then there's going to be a small group of people that want that feature, but for them it's worth it and therefore we should create it because we know that we're satisfying a want that... Of people who would pay for it. That's a very general example, by the way.

27:57 PB: It goes much deeper, and it's on a case-by-case basis, but that's the point of pricing to the want, understanding the wants first, giving people what they want and working with finance and accounting, so on and so forth, to price it at a way where the people who're paying for it are happy to pay for it. In fact, you've just increased their satisfaction because you've given them something that they want. And just one last thing on the price-value relationship, it's not as strong today because of basically the internet, where information is out there everywhere, but it's still pretty strong when it comes to high price equals high value. The person who started Bloomberg, Michael Bloomberg, also the former Mayor of New York City, he was famous for saying, "If your product isn't selling, raise the price." In other words, let the market know that you're selling something of high quality, and therefore it's priced higher. Which goes against the economic model of lower the price to increase sales, but it talks to the value perception of price. Jim, you'd like to add in anything to that?

29:11 JM: Sounds like behavioral finance. Sounds a little like behavioral finance, just throw it out there.

29:17 PB: Exactly. Indeed.

29:17 JM: Maybe you should come and talk to my class?

29:20 PB: Consumer behavior and behavioral finance, the same thing almost.

29:26 JM: Yeah.

29:28 PB: Actually, just to answer that... Just to answer that, marketing as a discipline is best explained this way: It's as if economics had a baby, gave it up for adoption, and it was raised by sociology and psychology. Because everything we do is economic-based, but we're thinking very much about how people perceive things. So, we want to know what's going on inside consumers' minds and what's going on in around them in the world, and you put those things together in our economic foundation, and that's why I like to describe marketing that way.

30:11 JM: Very good.

30:11 AZ: Alright. Thank you so much. Next, I'm going to have Mary Katherine jump in and chat a little bit about our next steps in the application process.

30:24 MH: So, for our application requirements for the MBA program, you will need to submit the application, obviously, with your resume and official transcripts from all schools that you have attended. You must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to be considered for our MBA program. So, I know the first question most people will ask is about GMAT or GRE. Our requirements are that if you have above a 3.3 GPA, you're waived from GMAT or GRE requirements or if you have 3.0 with two years of relevant work experience. Now that relevant work experience is determined by the Program Director. But if you have below a 3.0 GPA, you are still welcome to apply, and you most likely need the GMAT or GRE.

31:10 MH: But the first step in the application process is always to talk to your admissions advisor. We will go through the program details more in-depth and make sure that [31:17] ____ our program is going to be a good fit for what you're looking for. So, we have six convenient start dates a year for this program, our next one is next week, on October 22nd, and then after that we have January 21st. So those are the two next opportunities that you have to get started with us for our MBA program.

31:39 AZ: Great, and would you mind talking a little bit more about how soon people should apply and that type of thing?

31:46 MH: Yeah. So, the application process is constantly ongoing, because we do have these six start dates, and each start date fills up pretty quickly. So, we encourage students if they are interested to reach out to an enrollment advisor and their enrollment advisor in their initial conversation, will set up a timeline specific to you, and when you need to get your documents in, and when we can get a decision back for you.

32:12 AZ: Alright, great. So next we want to answer any questions that you may have about the program. So again, if you click the Q&A box at the bottom of your screen, you can type in any questions that you may have, and Dr. Barretta, Dr. Mahar or Mary Katherine can answer them for you. So, can you... First question here: Can you tell us of an example of how students have been able to immediately apply learnings from the program to their work? Either Dr. Barretta or Dr. Mahar, I don't know if you have an example.

32:57 JM: I want that one. Paul, you don't get a chance.

32:58 AZ: Oh, okay, great. [chuckle]

33:01 JM: Paul, you don't get a chance. You know, if you're going to get a chance on this one, but although you do know the student. So, a vice president of a local hospital is in the program. And in the behavioral finance class, one of the things we talk about is how to apply, how to get people to sign up for retirement planning, et cetera. And I guess that was a real problem at his hospital that people were not signing up for it. So, he literally, and the class was not over yet and they had a board meeting, he took the idea to the board meeting and he was still in the class, the seven weeks were not over yet, and they were already adapting some of the things that we had from the class. So yeah, absolutely, it's almost instantaneous things can happen like that, yeah.

33:49 PB: I do know the student. And he actually was so excited about that, that... And we stay in touch. He sent me an email exchange about how much he's getting from the program and he told me about being able to apply it that same way, so that is a great example.

34:09 JM: But there are many... There are just so many.

34:09 AZ: I would say...

34:13 PB: Say that again.

34:15 JM: I said there are so many others, that's just the one that's the tip of the tongue one, I mean. There's so many ways it can be used almost instantaneously from running that present value analysis, to retirement planning for your personal lives, to lease or buy decisions, just so many. I'm not even going to go into all of them, but there's a lot.

34:37 PB: Yep, and I agree there are many examples. I've had a student who had his own website, he had his own business, and his website wasn't as powerful as it could be. And he realized that it was very technical as opposed to appealing to his customer base. It was a B2B company, and by week six or so he started instituting some changes in his company website, and he said he found the difference right away. In the Marketing Research course, I teach... In this program, I teach the Marketing Management, which is the core marketing course, as well as the marketing research class.

35:27 PB: Marketing research class is extremely hands-on. Because we're so interactive students go out and they actually use methods in a hands-on way and report back. And we have great discussions about it. And I have had students, and several students tell me that they put some of the methods that we talked about and that we learned about in the class, to use for their job and found that they were getting better information from, who need to get information from [36:01] because of it.

36:04 AZ: Great, okay, next question: Is it possible to complete the program in under 18 months? I'm going to direct this one to Mary Katherine.

36:14 MH: So, the program is designed to be completed in between 20 months and two-and-a-half years. So, the way that you could complete it in less than 20 months would be dependent of course on the number of courses you'd be required to take. And students can apply for permission to take more than one class at a time after they've taken at least one semester and maintained a high GPA. Now this is done on a case by case basis, and there's no guarantee that you would be able to move quicker through the program or that the classes that you need to take would be available more than one session.

36:56 MH: So, we got another question on how much does the MBA cost. So, the cost of the program, again, is going to be dependent on the number of courses that you're required to take. So, the cost per credit hour for our program is $755. That is the current cost, and tuition is always subject to change. As far as the total tuition costs, the total tuition and fees ranges between $22,650 and $31,710. So that's tuition and fees, but it'll be dependent upon the number of courses you're required to take.

37:34 AZ: And your enrollment advisor can assist you with any specific questions that you may have related to finances and how you can pay for the program. So, if you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to your enrollment advisor. Okay. Next question for either Dr. Barretta or Dr. Mahar. What surprises you the most about online students? Anything that you see differently online versus...

38:10 JM: Paul, you want to go first or second? I don't care. But I have an answer.

38:15 PB: You can go first.

38:16 JM: I guess I'll go. Okay. I think the biggest thing that surprised me is how well it becomes a team or a group quickly. I had every expectation of these people being out in the middle of wherever, taking the class, largely alone by themselves. And that has not happened at all. All of my classes have become really groups and we interact, they talk, they tell their problems to each other. And some of this is... We have a WhatsApp thread that I use for all of the classes. And it was interesting last semester... Sorry, last year and we dated it. I know we're not supposed to date things when we do it, but this was dated, but it's important, I think. Last year, there were a bunch of hurricanes on the East Coast and a fire in California, and at the same exact time, I had a student in, who was being evacuated because of the hurricanes in Florida, as well as a person who was evacuated because of the fires in California in the same class. And it really, it was amazing to see the outpouring of what can we do for you? Do you need help? Across the board from people who largely had never met, but had just been participants in the class, and it really develops into a community very quickly.

39:33 JM: That's one thing. And the second thing is the quality of the students. I expected to have to push and nudge and everything else to get them to do work, and it hasn't happened at all. I don't know if it's because the teachers who came before me have all set the stage so high, the bar so high that they know they have to do the work, or it's because of the success coaches or it is because... I don't know, but it has worked really, really well for me.

39:58 PB: Yep, and I'll add to that by agreeing with everything that Dr. Mahar just said, especially the group dynamic. Students really do get along well. I see in the Zoom sessions a lot. But also addressing the quality of the students, I agree, and I think a lot of it comes from their commitment. I'm just amazed at students who for example, work a full-time job, have two kids and three dogs, and they still manage to produce quality work, and that they're not afraid to ask questions. One thing that I found in my courses is I get a lot of questions about assignments leading up to... And I like that very much because I know that they are involved, and their commitment is evolving. Especially in the early days, the early weeks, I'll get a lot of questions and then I'll get a lot of drafts, and I'm not sure that every professor does this, I don't know that they do or don't, but it's a regular policy for me. I'll tell a student, "Write that up as draft, even if it's just a rough draft, and don't worry about grammatical issues or anything like that for the draft." So, I could see what direction you're taking and then I'll get back and say, okay, I would drop this whole first paragraph and I would look further into what you talked about in the second paragraph and give them some guidelines.

41:29 PB: And the level of commitment is very high. And I could tell from the emails that I get from students, they work at various hours. Some are able to do it during the day and get to me, some clearly do it when they get home from work. But it's excellent to see. And I've been very impressed. I think when we started this program, we all talked about how do we make this a program that has a high level of rigor? And it was that we need to challenge our students...

42:00 PB: And what's been fantastic is that the students have responded to that challenge. They've come back and said, "Oh okay, I see, I see the point." And how... The second part of that is how well they apply it to their work lives. We talked about that earlier, but that's a... That's a common theme that I hear from students, "Oh, I just... I used this technique," or "I noticed in my company that our marketing department does this," and I have been talking to them and I made a suggestion about something. So, they do apply it all the time.

42:40 AZ: Great. I think we have time for just one final question. What advice do you have for students who want to be successful in the program?

42:56 PB: I would go back to that commitment, you know, committing to it. I would also say don't be afraid to think of your professor as a resource. I think in the beginning, what I notice, I'm not sure if Jim notices this as well, but in the beginning, sometimes, I feel like students have this picture of just having to deal with someone through e-mail and reading the content that we've written, because we write the content that they're reading in addition to the textbook. And then like after week two, I start getting more e-mails and then they're ending with things like, "Oh my kid won a soccer game", something like that. It becomes more personal. And I think it takes some people longer to get to that level, but when they do, they're more engaged and the learning process is better. So, don't think of your professor as a bunch of a key strokes, think of your professor as a person and exchange thoughts with them, with them. That'd be my advice.

44:04 JM: Yeah, get involved. That is sort of what I said in a way. Just, you know, ask questions, ask texts. Send a text to the whole group and just say, "Hey, I'm learning how to do this". It's almost positive that someone else has the same question as you. And they'll get talking about it and pretty soon, you'll all know what you're doing. So, I would say not just reach out to the professors but reach out to your other classmates. It really, I mean... I love... I keep saying it but WhatsApp to me is a perfect way to do that because I can see the care, I can watch the conversation go and if I want to jump into it and say, "Hey, this is the... This is the way you want to think about it," I can. And if not the students... I think there's an awful lot to be said for the learning process of students helping students, mentoring or whatever you want to call it. That is something that you may not get. I know numerous students have told me they know their classmates better in the online class than they ever did when they were undergrads, in person, because they'd walk to a class, they would sit there, they'd walk home or whatever. Here, there's interactions full-time, all day. It's really a cool aspect to me.

45:14 AZ: Alright, well, I think that's all the time we have remaining for questions today, but feel free to direct any outstanding questions to your enrollment advisor. Mary Katherine, do you just want to remind everyone that schools are closed over the holidays?

45:32 MH: Yeah, so the next start date we're looking at is going to be January 21st. With the holidays, it is much better to go ahead and get started with the process now, so we can get you a decision. And then over the holidays, you can relax a little and prepare for class and don't have to stress about finding transcripts or anything. So, we encourage you to go ahead and do the application process as soon as possible. And if you have any questions, you can always call us at the number on the screen as well as our admissions e-mail address, and we'll connect you with an admissions advisor.

46:04 AZ: Great. So, this concludes our session for today. Thank you so much for joining us and have a great rest of your day!

46:11 JM: Thanks everyone.