Ramona Aubry, Ph.D.
Online MBA (Marketing) Class of 2022
Director of Customer Success, Expert.ai
Ramona Aubry always wanted to be a Terp. Come next year, she’ll be adding an MBA from the University of Maryland to her resume.
The catalyst for her applying to UMD was attending a meeting with C-suite stakeholders who were discussing methods to boost profitability. After that meeting, Aubry told her husband she needed to go to business school and learn more about how companies improved market share.
“Before I began the Online MBA program, I felt like something was missing from my professional life,” says Aubry. “I needed to fill in some gaps to understand my company’s long-term strategy and positioning in the market.”
Finances were an initial concern, but a grant from UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business coupled with tuition assistance from her employer allowed Aubry to make it work.
Aubry valued the hybrid model of Smith’s Online MBA, along with its status as one of the top 10 programs nationwide, according to U.S. News & World Report. The combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning, in addition to the in-person residencies that bookend the MBA, helped validate her decision.
“It seemed like the perfect way to be in class (even if it was virtually), interact, debate, express myself and be close to my family,” Aubry explains. “I have two young kids and need to be home in the evening.”
The online nature of the program turned out to be hardly noticeable.
“The infrastructure of the classes, the materials, the support offered outside the classes — everything is set up to enable any type of student to feel as if they are in an on-site class,” she says. “I was impressed by the quality of the online materials on one hand and the IT reliability, proactivity and continuous support on the other hand.”
Like many students in the OMBA program, Aubry picked up practical knowledge that she could directly apply to her position at Expert.ai, an international artificial intelligence company. Aubry evolved into a more sales-focused role six months into the program, but she says her MBA coursework prepared her to pivot.
“Everything I learned in the first months in the MBA helped me adjust very quickly,” she says. “The accounting classes gave me a very good idea of what budgeting and forecasting mean in the context of sales. The marketing classes equipped me to understand and properly qualify a business opportunity.”
Specializing her MBA in marketing, Aubry recalls using a business model assignment for her own sales kickoff, as well as a strategic IT course that helped her understand how to cooperate with the company’s internal technology team to stay aligned with its business strategy.
There’s also a personal component to Aubry’s OMBA studies.
“I would like to own a business one day, and the entrepreneurship class I took last year helped me realize the complexity of being on your own and starting a business from scratch.”
Aubry urges current and future Terps to stay organized and leverage the Smith Online MBA’s flexible class scheduling so they can put their full effort into their studies.
“Learn to manage and master your time,” Aubry says. “Stay focused and see what the best pace is for you. For some students, two classes per term seems too much, so they end up doing a ‘good enough’ job. Smith is not for ‘good enough’ students. Smith prepares you for greatness. Take one class instead of two and study hard!”
Aubry has a renewed sense of purpose and direction for her career that she attributes to the guidance of Smith OMBA faculty.
“Smith professors are amazing mentors and coaches who adapt to multiple types of students with different backgrounds and personalities,” she says. “There are a few professors who woke me up from my professional sleepwalking and gave me the desire to change a few things in my job and career.”
What does the future look like for Aubry? She’s set out a plan that includes both immediate and gradual benchmarks for success.
“As a woman in my 40s, I plan my moves strategically, and my short-term goal is to grow my competencies as a leader in general and as a marketing/sales director in particular,” she says. “In the long term, my goal is to own my business and help other people grow with me.”