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Winning Voices: Sonja Allison

Winning Voices: Sonja Allison

Each week, JWMI profiles students and alumni in its new featured series “Winning Voices.” Learn about our diverse community and what sets our program apart from those who have experienced it. For more great “Winning Voices” content, click here.


Sonja Allison
Senior Vice President, IT Manager
NewDominion Bank

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

In my role within the Information Technology team, I maintain the day-to-day IT operations, work to resolve any network problems and assist end users with any issues they may have.

Why did you want to get an MBA?

My career felt stagnant. I wanted to add a credential to my resume that might help me advance in it. I also pondered opening my own business. My sister, Frantasia Allison, recently graduated from Strayer University and shared her positive experiences with the school. I went to my local campus for an appointment with the Strayer admissions officer who shared information about the JWMI program. Based on my resume and work experience, the admissions officer thought I would be a good fit for the program. He answered my questions, shared more about the program and listened to my goals. I was very excited to be accepted into the program.

How has the JWMI curriculum helped you in your career?

The content in the program has been very relevant to my career. I have been able to apply concepts to my current position. I have gained a better understanding of my employer and the overall business as it relates to operations and finance. Each course built on the next and was always relevant to the business of my organization.

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How did the online MBA program compare to your initial expectations when you first began your MBA journey?

I was skeptical about a 100% online program. I was used to taking a mix of online and on-ground courses. So I questioned how the concepts and learnings could be communicated effectively.  I also feared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the assignments due to my busy work schedule. However, the EOP (Executive of Practice) videos, DQ (Discussion Question) boards, Jack calls, and faculty all helped me to stay on task with the content.

What’s been your most rewarding experience in the program?

It is difficult to narrow down just one rewarding experience. However, the New Business Ventures and Entrepreneurship class would be at the top of the list thus far. The course gave me the confidence to know that should I decide to pursue my business idea, I would have the skills to do so. In the class, not only did we get experience writing a business plan but we received valuable feedback on that plan. Looking ahead as I finish the MBA program, graduation will likely be my most rewarding experience. I’ve overcome many obstacles during this journey including breast cancer follow-ups, major surgery and the death of my mother. Throughout all these challenges, I stayed the course, maintaining a 3.75 GPA, and plan to graduate in June. Earning my MBA is a gratifying accomplishment.

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What strategies did you implement to manage job, family, life and an MBA?

The class week runs from Monday to Sunday. I chose to look at weeks in a Sunday to Saturday timeframe, which left me an extra day to get assignments done. I purchased a tablet so that I was able to access Blackboard (the online classroom) anywhere at any time. I often used my lunch hour to accomplish my weekly readings.

What advice can you share with new students embarking on the Jack Welch MBA journey?

I have three pieces of advice for new students:

  1. Make sure you set expectations for what you want to get out of the program. Don’t do it to check off the MBA box.
  2. Apply what you learn on a weekly basis to help you gain real-world insights from the curriculum which will help you better understand your current employer and corporation.
  3. Make sure you select an MBA path (the number of courses that you will take each term) that will allow you to digest the information and make the most of it.

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