"I think the benefit I got from the program is pretty universal.”
How far would you go for a McIntire education? For Mike Wisler, Vice President of U.S. Card Division, Capital One IT, and a 2010 alum of the M.S. in MIT Program, the answer is, “about 5000 miles”—or, more precisely, the distance from London to Charlottesville, Va.
“The novelty of the commute wore off pretty fast,” Wisler jokes. What hasn’t worn off, though, are the skills and knowledge he gained through the program. “There was always the recognition that—although I was certainly competent—some of the insights I’d gained through experience may not have had the full richness that comes with formalized learning in an academic environment,” he says.
Particularly helpful, Wisler says, was learning the fundamentals and principles of enterprise architecture. “I’d had enough projects to learn my way through things,” he explains. “But it was extremely useful to be able to understand—in the absence of a crisis or a project—why things are constructed in certain ways, and the principles by which one would go about building those things from scratch.”
But Wisler says the program’s benefits go well beyond the fundamentals of IT. “To me, the bigger benefit was that the technology education was so tightly wrapped up in the context of broader business management,” he says. “I call it, ‘the demystification of strategy and finance.’ When I got back to work, I was really able to talk to the board about capital expenditures, and about technology as an enabler of business.”
Wisler also says he learned a tremendous amount from his fellow students, who brought a rich diversity of perspectives and experience into the classroom. “There was so much debate and dialogue—it was really beneficial to me,” Wisler says. “The amount I learned as a result of the caliber and diversity of the students, supplemented by UVA and McIntire’s culture of learning, was something I really hadn’t anticipated,” he says. More, he reports, his classmates’ flexibility and team spirit enabled him to fully participate outside of the classroom despite the five-hour Charlottesville-London time difference. “I could easily have been starting my work at 11 p.m., just when the rest of the class was getting off work, but my team found ways to accommodate my schedule,” he says. “I think it was a product of their character, but it was also a product of the type of student who’s attracted to—and selected for—the program.”
Ultimately, Wisler says, it’s not just a difference in time zones that the M.S. in MIT Program is able to transcend. “The things I learned in the program were just as applicable in Europe as they are in the United States,” he says. “I think the benefit I got from the program is pretty universal.”