Student Spotlight: Samantha Simank

Samantha Simank, MBA Direct '23, is excited about how SMU Cox will help her become the strategic and confident leader she wants to be.

Headshot of Samantha Simank with a building behind her

With two semesters under her belt, Samantha Simank, is glad she decided to accept her offer to join the SMU Cox MBA Direct Class of 2023. Her experience has been nothing but positive, between new connections and the clear application of course content to her career. We sat down with Simank to learn about what brought her to SMU Cox, her experience with the MBA Direct program thus far, and how she believes the program will accelerate her career.

“I wanted to be challenged”

Simank grew up on the southern coast of Texas in Corpus Christi. She attended Trinity University in San Antonio and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics and Technology in May 2019. Simank works as a data analyst at the consulting and technology services firm, Capgemini. She ultimately decided to obtain an MBA to explore the dynamic nature of business, expand her leadership skills, and accelerate her career.

Location was a significant factor in Simank’s decision to pursue her MBA at SMU Cox. The SMU Cox School of Business offers extensive on-campus resources to online graduate program students, including student groups, mentorship, and career management services. She fully intends to take advantage of in-person connections once COVID-19 protocols allow a full range of networking and immersion opportunities to begin again. “They’ve done a good job of creating this togetherness that is then supported and further fostered,” she said.

Even with social distancing restrictions, SMU Cox faculty are dedicated to shaping future leaders, and Simank feels this support. Simank finds encouragement in having access to this network of experienced professors. “The reviews about the Online MBA program are astonishing, the professor’s reviews were five out of five stars,” Simank said. “I wanted to be challenged. The professors have been challenging me a lot, and everyone has been so open.”

“You have time to develop the experience you need to enter an MBA-level position”

Simank’s experience with her MBA Direct classmates has been highly collaborative. Students break out into group sessions and participate in application-focused course content. She is inspired by the dialogue that goes on during online sessions while students discuss critical business topics and work together to solve real-world problems. Simank hopes to grow these relationships even further as she continues in the program.

Simank appreciates all the SMU Cox MBA Direct offers. One such offering is flexibility in an online degree program for early career professionals. “The program itself appealed to me,” she said. “I haven’t seen others like it.” MBA Direct is designed for recent college graduates and professionals with less than three years work experience. The part-time degree combines highly interactive, synchronized online class sessions with a comprehensive curriculum. As a program designed for young professionals, students complete fewer credit hours per semester at the beginning of the program. “You have time to develop the experience you need to enter an MBA-level position,” said Simank.

Once students complete the program, they don’t have to wait another two years to gain professional experience to support their degree. The SMU Cox MBA Direct allows students to grow on an academic and professional level simultaneously.

Being part of the SMU Cox MBA Direct program helps Simank understand the profound impact market trends have on a business, especially during a pandemic. She has gained new perspectives and applied her course material as a technical consultant.

“An MBA equips you with not only the technical skills you need, like accounting and economics, but also how to manage people,” she said. Samantha cites her experience in her course, “Managing and Leading People”: “We went through certain personality types and how to reach out and connect with them.” This well-rounded curriculum is what Simank was looking for to expand on both her business analytics skills and business soft-skills.

“Everyone in class has something important to add”

Each student in the MBA Direct cohort brings a unique perspective to the group. Students come to the program with diverse backgrounds and can share their experiences during online sessions. Simank sees the value in learning from her peers about new, useful tools and how different students approach difficult problems. “Everyone in class has something important to add,” she said.

Simank’s biggest challenge is finding the right balance between fostering her career and excelling in such a rigorous, prestigious MBA program. She notes that the online classes require active engagement. “We definitely have to be prepared,” she said. “But I think that’s a good thing because it contributes to that class environment.” One of the aspects she’s enjoyed most about the SMU Cox MBA Direct program is participating in role-playing exercises which strengthen students’ leadership and problem-solving skills.

With a solid educational background in data analytics, Simank understands that businesses must gather, interpret, and use data to succeed. “It’s really about the data. Data is the difference between companies that are succeeding versus those that are stagnant,” she said. “And I love it. I’m passionate about it.” When looking to the future, Simank sees herself in a leadership position, guiding analytics efforts and maximizing the use of valuable data. While she recognizes she’s comfortable in her technical role, Simank hopes that obtaining an MBA from SMU Cox will challenge her to find confidence as a leader.

“I hope to grow my leadership skills and step into a leadership position,” she said. About the SMU Cox MBA Direct program, Simank knows the program will give her the necessary business tools and give her the confidence to use those tools and impact people’s lives. “I want to sum up everything I know about business and become the strategic and confident leader that I want to be.”

Join the next SMU Cox MBA Direct program cohort

At SMU Cox, connection is at the forefront of our MBA programs. Whether it’s connecting ideas and applying them to the real world, forging bonds with your dynamic classmates or forming professional relationships amongst the SMU Cox network of over 40,000 devoted SMU Cox alumni, the ties you make here will last a lifetime. Make your first SMU Cox connection by contacting our admissions team to discover how the MBA Direct program can help you accelerate your career goals.