I just finished my fourth semester in Auburn’s Online MBA program. I’ve learned a lot so far, and am honored to have the opportunity to take part in it. I am about halfway through my plan of study now. I was originally going to graduate in Spring 2022, but I tacked on some additional coursework and will now graduate in the fall of that year — with some extras!

By August, I expect to complete a Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Management. It consists of three classes, which cover information security, risk management, internal controls, compliance laws, and auditing. I pursued this with elective courses at Auburn because I want to expand my knowledge of risk management, which is crucial to a lot of fields, especially engineering. I’ve been interested in security for a long time, too, so that was definitely a plus.

I also added a Master of Science in Finance degree, which I intend to complete along with my MBA. There is some overlap in curriculum between both degrees, making for a total of five extra classes. While taking Financial Analysis in the fall, I discovered that I want to learn more about Finance, and have recently taken an interest in investing. I expect my knowledge in Finance to be very useful, and also to round out my “big picture” perspective. In a way, Economics, Finance, and Business are on a scale from big picture to small picture, with Finance right in the middle.

I’m currently holding down a 4.0 GPA: wish me luck!


My progress through the program is shown below. Classes in 2022 are tentative, as registration has not yet opened.

Spring 2020Marketing
Summer 2020Organizational Leadership
Tech Strategy
Fall 2020Financial Analysis
Supply Chain Management
Spring 2021
Information Technology Auditing
Information Risk Analysis
Global Financial Markets
Summer 2021
In progress
Advanced Real Estate Finance
Security & Information Assurance
Certificate: Cybersecurity Management
Fall 2021Financial Engineering
Multinational Financial Management
Spring 2022Mergers, Acquisitions, & Restructuring
Applied Financial Management
Summer 2022Cost Analysis & Systems (Managerial Accounting)
Fall 2022Consulting Project
Quantitative Decision Making
Degree: Master of Business Administration
Degree: Master of Science, Finance
Some course names changed to better communicate what the course is about to a general audience


Below I’ve highlighted some of the things I learned during each class. Conclusions are my own, and have been drawn from the course material, lectures, and any related material that I was going through at the same time.

MarketingMarketers start by understanding customers, then make a product that fulfills their wants and needs. They position it in the market, so that customers know how it’s different from competitors. They aim to sell more product to more people at higher margins and find the right niche for their product. They learn who is their customer, and who is not their customer.

I learned how to: manage a simulated product line from design to distribution and advertising.
Organizational LeadershipLeaders define a vision of what could be. They motivate others towards that vision by correctly aligning incentives. They empower them to succeed by removing obstacles, procuring resources, and building relationships. They acquire power, which makes these goals possible, then share and delegate it responsibly.

I learned how to: lead a change management initiative, lead a team up a simulated Mt. Everest.
Tech StrategyCompanies survive by maintaining control of a rapidly changing collection of scarce, valuable resources. These frequently include position in a market, data, and skilled employees. Technology itself is an easily imitated commodity with short shelf life. Advantages of scale usually allow established market leaders to dominate competitors.

I learned how to: analyze the strategies used by large tech companies to hold significant market share.
Financial AnalysisIt is better to have a dollar today than a dollar tomorrow. The present value of the dollar tomorrow is the amount that could be earned by investing it at the appropriate level of risk. The value of any financial asset is the present value of its future cash flows. Markets are the most efficient way we have to determine this value. Companies succeed by generating the return that their investors expect for the level of risk they are taking on.

I learned how to: value stocks, bonds, and projects. Prepare pro forma balance sheets. Calculate weighted average cost of capital and sustainable growth rates.
Supply Chain ManagementCompanies face uncertainties of demand and disruption as they source all the stuff they need to make and sell product. They manage this risk by forming good relationships with their suppliers, sharing data, setting standards, and strategically managing their distribution and return networks.

I learned how to: manage a simulated supply chain, project demand, and prepare supplier scorecards.
Information Risk AnalysisBusinesses constantly incur risk, which must be correctly managed to ensure survival and to achieve maximum returns. This is done first by understanding risks, then by mitigating, transferring, avoiding, or accepting them.

I learned how to: preform a risk assessment of an IT infrastructure, including qualitative and quantitative assessments, a cost benefit analysis, and business impact analysis.
Information Technology AuditingCompanies must adhere to standards that are imposed by management, regulators, and customers. This is done by translating those standards into security controls that are selected for a particular level of risk, then independently verifying that those controls are in place.

I learned how to: design an internal control system to comply with PCI-DSS and other regulations & standards.
Global Financial MarketsFinancial markets connect investors with people who need funding. They give the investor control over where their money is, and help them to manage risks associated with business operations, market prices, credit, and foreign currencies. These risks become systemic when they affect the entire financial system. Governments and central banks heavily regulate financial institutions in attempt to preserve economic stability.

I learned how to: manage foreign currency risk with options and futures contracts.

Next Up

This summer I will finish my coursework in Information Security, and will also learn about Real Estate Finance. I chose the latter since some day I would like to own real estate, and it’s also an important asset class for both investors and companies. In the Fall and Spring, I will dive into Finance, then wrap up my MBA coursework in the Summer and Fall of 2022.

My earlier post very much still outlines my long term plans, which are flexible. As I learn more about business, I honestly ask why engineers aren’t taught many of these concepts, since they really are essential. To me it is axiomatic: these tools will be useful. What is to be seen is how I will use them.