Ahmad El-Katib grew up in Jordan. When he turned 18, he immigrated to the United States. He was following in the footsteps of his brother, Joseph Al-Khateib, who moved to Durant, Oklahoma and started his academic career at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Ahmad did the same.
“When I was wrapping up high school, I was wanting to come to the United States and go to school,” he explained. “My brother had recommended going to Southeastern as well. That’s how I was interested in it. I applied, got accepted and started the immigration process.”
Ahmad earned his Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from Southeastern Oklahoma in 2012. While he was there, he also met his future wife, Abbie.
The couple moved to Dallas after graduation, but Durant was home and Joseph was still there, so Ahmad began looking for work back in Durant.
“I didn’t have that much experience, but when you’re a fresh grad, you’re cocky,” he said. “You have a bachelor’s degree, and you think the world owes you something. You feel like you’re going to stand back and get all those different offers. Obviously that doesn’t happen. The reality hit, and you just have to deal with it. I decided to get my master’s.”
Ahmad moved back to Durant after about a year in Dallas, and Abbie, who was still working in Dallas, soon followed after finding a teaching job in Durant. They both began their master’s programs at SOSU.
“We felt blessed enough to have those opportunities. We decided to pursue our education and stay in Durant for a little bit and go from there,” he explained. “The main reason why I wanted to do a master’s degree is because it was something that would differentiate me from all the other candidates because almost everybody has a bachelor’s degree and most people have a master’s. If you want to be special you have to go the extra mile and work a little bit harder to be a little bit different than everybody else.”
Back to SOSU
Ahmad knew there were other options for earning an MBA, but he chose to return to SOSU because of the positive experiences he had there during his undergrad program.
“I had developed some really good relationships with the staff and faculty there that it made a whole lot of sense to me,” he said. “One thing that was very, very important was that it was online. It was very convenient. I was working all the time. It was very affordable. Most importantly that they had the AACSB accreditation. That meant a lot. Some people don’t understand that. It’s a really good certification for business schools. Not everybody has it. When you compare apples to apples, you can’t really beat it. It just made sense.”
And while Ahmad appreciated all of the faculty members and professors he interacted with, one professor who really stood out was Dr. Kitty Campbell.
“She was definitely one of my favorite professors. She’s awesome, easy to talk to. She’s willing to bend backwards just to help you out and very honest and very transparent about everything. It was just a joy to work with her and just to learn from her. She has this quality about her that makes it so easy to talk to her. It was never, ever intimidating like sometimes you feel that way with other professors,” he said.
Ahmad also noted that he learned a lot from Dr. Lawrence Silver, a marketing professor.
“He’s definitely not the easiest, but he presented the information in a way that you can actually understand it and apply it. I enjoyed his classes. He was the marketing professor for most of my marketing courses. He and Dr. Campbell were two of my favorites,” he said.
Ahmad also enjoyed most of his courses. He said he didn’t get as much out of the math-related courses because he’s already pretty good with numbers. He was more interested in the management and marketing courses.
“Because of my personality and me liking to work with people and meeting people, I enjoyed marketing. I have a huge passion for marketing and understanding what motivates people to buy, and especially with me working with market research and data analysis and all that stuff really got me excited about it,” he said.
He also said he benefited from the management courses that helped him learn how to motivate employees and handle tough situations. He said the coursework also helped him develop leadership skills.
Career Benefits of an MBA
While Ahmad was earning his MBA online, he was also working for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Durant. This proved to be a very good combination because he was able to apply his newly gained knowledge while working for the Oklahoma SBDC.
“The coursework was more catered towards applying the information that you learned and how to use it in the real world,” he said. “It was totally different than your undergrad. I would run into similar situations at work that I’m actually studying. Working and doing it helps a lot. It was very easy to understand and apply at the same time. I was happy about that part.”
Ahmad is also enjoying the respect that comes with having an advanced business degree.
“I did not realize how important it was until I actually graduated and had the MBA title,” he explained. “People seem very impressed and will actually listen to more of what you have to say. There is just a tremendous amount of respect that comes with it that I didn’t realize it would come.”
Ahmad also says that earning his MBA has already helped his career. His experience with the SBDC coupled with his graduate degree had recruiters calling. In January 2016, he was offered a job as a small business development specialist with the Choctaw Nation. He was still a student, but would graduate just a few months later in May 2016.
That was just the beginning. After just 10 months on the job with the Choctaw Nation, Ahmad was promoted to a development fund manager.
“I do feel that being offered that promotion five months later from receiving my MBA had something to do with it,” he said. “During the interview process, they were very interested in my MBA and the type of things that we learned during our MBA. That was something that they definitely looked at. I just feel that helped me professionally for sure.”
Advice for Future Online MBA Students
Ahmad got a lot out of his online MBA experience with Southeastern Oklahoma and wants others to understand the value of the program, too.
“You’re not going to find a better value for the amount of education and what comes with the degree itself — that is a huge, huge factor,” he said. “Being in an AACSB-accredited university is a very positive thing, and getting a degree for that much, for less than $12,000, is crazy.”
The value isn’t just in the price of tuition. Ahmad has also reaped career benefits through his MBA program.
“I don’t think students will understand how valuable it is to receive this type of degree from this type of university and then the value that it brings to the table professionally,” he said. “I was very surprised by it. It seems like it gets better and better the more I progress in my career. I know it’s very affordable. I don’t necessarily agree with how affordable the degree is because of the certifications and the amount of education that you receive. I think it’s worth a lot more. It’s a really good deal.”
Learn more about the SOSU online MBA with an emphasis in Management program.
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