Poets&Quants Names Austin F. Garrido '24 MBA as a 2024 Best and Brightest Online MBA

Austin F. Garrido

Photo courtesy of Poets&Quants

Austin F. Garrido ’24 MBA was recently named as one of Poets&Quants’ Best and Brightest Online MBAs of 2024.

Hometown: Northridge, CA 

Undergraduate School and Degree:

University of Southern California – Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona – Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering

California State Polytechnic University-Pomona – Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

Where are you currently working? Raytheon Missile and Defense – Principal FPGA/ASIC Designer – At my workplace, I’m able to apply my unique blend of technical proficiency, leadership, and interpersonal skills.  I have a sincere desire to bring out the best in people, which makes me fortunate to now be inspiring a team of 10 Engineers.  I’m glad I can not only provide my team with the motivation to complete our goals but also utilize my 14+ years of design experience to help support my staff and give guidance on our designs.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My time working at HRL Laboratories was amazing. I got to work on cutting edge research and with a great group of people. From that, I really grew my technical career, where I was featured on several published scientific papers spanning from GaN Power devices to Algorithm Implementation on FPGAs. I am really happy to have received my first patent which was granted in 2022. At the very start of 2024, I was blessed to receive my second patent with hopefully more in the pipeline!

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? Simple. First, I knew with my schedule that an online program was going to be the way to go. Second, I heard good things about the MBA program from those in my work place who were going or had gone. Last, I recently moved to Tucson and got a chance to visit the campus before attending. The staff in the MBA program are super helpful. They are there for you onsite, via Zoom, or just a call away.  Their friendliness, support, and availability really helped me choose this as my #1 pick for the MBA program I would like to take.              

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I really enjoyed the discussions. I actually had some great dialogue in there where I got to learn not only the subject matter, but see different viewpoints from several different industries. Coming into the MBA program as an Engineer, this was new to me. My engineering masters only had well engineers, whereas you get to interact with people from many different industries and different journeys of life in the MBA program. I ended up with a few friends already from the group assignments and we keep in contact as we all go through our MBA experience.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I really enjoyed the online experience as it gives me the opportunity to watch the classes wherever I may be and at the time I can commit. I have had times where I was on business travel, in another country, or just chilling in an AirBnB but was able to watch and submit my work. Often, I would enjoy watching the classes while going on the Stairmaster or walking on the treadmill. I’m pretty sure the in-classroom professors would get mad if I told them… “Hey can you like 1.5x the talk I got things to do.” That’s also a bonus, by the way, since the classes are recorded it gives you the chance to listen at whatever speed or rewatch whenever you need to get a better understanding.  The slides they present in each lecture will also be provided, which allows you to review for your midterms and finals.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? Get ready to be busy early on in the week because, for some random reason, most of your work will be due by Thursday Night!  Make your Monday and Tuesday the days to just pound out the work by watching all of your lectures and doing the reading. This will help organize your life so your significant other, friends, or family can get used to you being busy and your work to know those nights are set up for school work.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? Very much so, as I have learned better techniques to enhance my leadership skills. The Management courses are fantastic and my favorite from the program. I ended up in a leadership role while attending, so the coursework started to align with my real-world experience.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? While in the program, I grew my team from 1 to 10 people. It just so happened that I was aligning myself to a management role; my course work began to assist me with my new leadership responsibilities and the work was snowballing as we completed more assignments. I got to say it was really the right place, right time and right support from the MBA.

Why did you pursue an online MBA program instead of a full-time residential program? I knew that I wanted to work while going to school. Additionally, there was no way that I could travel as much as I did on a full-time residential program. I enjoy in-person programs, but there was a time and place for that. Now, I’m fully into my professional career and enjoying the freedom to travel, so an online MBA is the way for me.

Number of Hours Per Week Spent on an Online MBA: Usually I’m taking two classes so about 24 with a majority spent on Monday/Tuesday nights and then the rest spread around the week/weekend.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I am passionate about leading people. I love to learn about what they want to do with their careers and to find ways to make that happen. It brings me joy to work with my colleagues, build synergy within my team, and to get the job done!  If someone were to talk about me, I would love it for them to say he was an inspirational leader, smart, emotionally intelligent and a damn good designer. Ultimately, I would like to reach the highest professional level I can achieve, using my technical and management skills to lead larger projects to success.

This article originally appeared in Poets&Quants.com and was written by Jeff Schmitt.