Meet the CPA Advancing Her Data and Leadership Skills with an M.B.A.

Written by Amanda Wicks • Updated on

Natalia Antzoulatos, a full-time professional and busy mother of three, chose Illinois Tech’s online M.B.A. program for its unique tech concentrations.

[Featured image] Illinois Tech M.B.A. student Natalia Antzoulatos

Figuring out what to earn a graduate degree in when you’re interested in more than one subject can be complicated. CPA and consulting manager Natalia Antzoulatos had been thinking about earning her M.B.A. so she could enhance her business management skills. But she also knew data analytics was in demand and thought a master’s in that area would be a wise investment so she could better “interpret data and help businesses make decisions.”  

When she came across Illinois Institute of Technology’s Master of Business Administration program, she realized she didn’t have to forgo one interest to pursue another. The online M.B.A. from the #23 university on the Wall Street Journal/College Pulse’s "2024 Best Colleges in the U.S." list is tech-focused and designed for those who want to develop their leadership skills alongside skills in data analytics, data visualization, and even artificial intelligence.

“I think that’s why this degree is special to me,” said Antzoulatos. “It’s not as traditional as some other degrees that spend a lot of time on management theory and a limited amount of time on the technical aspects of things. I feel like this one is a good balance between both.”  

Before Antzoulatos committed to the program, she explored her options to ensure it was the best choice for her. “I ended up taking three classes from three different universities [on Coursera] at the same time,” she explained. “I thought that was really helpful. It’s great to try something and see that it works.” 

Illinois Tech made sense for the type of education she wanted to learn—and how she wanted to learn it. “It was affordable, the ranking of the school was great, it’s 36 credits, and I could pick a concentration that’s more unique and relevant,” she said. 

She also appreciated that the program was housed entirely on Coursera. “It’s a one-stop shop for everything you need, which I love,” she said. One of the other universities Antzoulatos considered was scattered across four platforms. “I was too busy for that,” she said. 

Antzoulatos upgraded the Competitive Strategy course she was taking to the for-credit option and began working through the two other pathway courses she needed to gain full entry into the program.

Thanks to Illinois Tech's partnership with Coursera, students can take advantage of performance-based admission, taking and passing three pathway courses without having to pull together the various materials to apply. Even though a formal application wasn’t a major barrier for Antzoulatos, she still appreciated being able to get started right away without having to follow the timelines of a more traditional academic calendar.  

As if working full-time while earning her M.B.A. doesn’t keep her busy enough, Antzoulatos also has three children, so finding time to get everything done takes commitment. “Due to the flexibility and asynchronous courses, I found that it’s achievable with self-discipline and commitment,” she explained.

She dedicates time every night to her studies. “I’m not necessarily doing homework, but there are lessons that you can listen to and there are required readings every week. Having the Coursera app is super helpful because I can be laying in bed on my iPad doing those.” 

Even with the asynchronous nature of the program, Antzoulatos takes advantage of live opportunities to connect with her faculty and peers. “Another big plus for the program is there are plenty of opportunities to connect with faculty and network with fellow students,” she said. And she knows building that network is a big part of earning an M.B.A. “It's not just the knowledge you gain—it’s also meeting people.” 

 Antzoulatos has already been able to apply what she’s learned to her full-time role, including one of Illinois Tech’s required pathway courses, Mastering Excel Essentials to Enhance Business Value.

“I’ll be honest with you, I use Excel every day and I still learned new things, which I thought was pretty amazing,” she said. This summer, she plans to take one of the program’s newest electives on AI. “I’m looking forward to that. It’s so very practical.” 

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