Dr. Frank Blondino went coast to coast while enrolled in the online Master of Business Administration program at Boise State University.
The Monroe, Virginia, native started the program while residing in his home state. One year later, he landed a job in Carlsbad, California, and then completed the MBA program in March 2020. He is director of pharmaceutical development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals.
“I had been wanting to earn a master’s degree for 15 years,” he said. “Life carried on and kept getting in the way. I decided two years ago to go ahead and start. I wanted an accredited, highly ranked school. Boise State was one of the three schools I seriously considered.”
The flexibility of the online format was crucial for Dr. Blondino because he often travels for work. Plus, he and his wife, Annu, have two daughters, Anoushka (17) and Jayna (7).
“Most of the executive MBA programs require you to be on-site every other Friday or Saturday,” he said. “I could never guarantee I could do that because of my job. With the online format, I could work all day, get home and spend time with my family.
“When things settled down, I could focus on studying in the evenings. They have been quite accommodating to me on the weekends for the last couple of years. I owe them a lot.”
Having never taken any online courses, Dr. Blondino was nervous about learning in a fully online environment.
“You just dive into it,” he said. “The first course you take prepares you for all of the rest of the coursework. I got used to it and acclimated to it pretty quickly. My daughters and I had some homework sessions together. We sat on the couch with our laptops and did homework together.”
When Dr. Blondino initially enrolled in college, he planned to take the pre-medical route and become a physician.
“I decided I didn’t want to spend 48 hours straight in a hospital, so I went to pharmacy school,” he said “I was working in retail pharmacy during my undergrad and decided I also didn’t want to do that, either. So, I went to graduate school.”
Dr. Blondino graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1991. Four years later, he added a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics from VCU.
“I wanted to get involved with science,” he said. “That was a way I could help folks, keep them healthy and develop lifesaving drugs and other medications. It was also a way for me to stay involved in healthcare without being on the retail side.”
Good call. Adding to Dr. Blondino’s more than 15 years of field experience is his four-year stint as associate professor and associate director for development research at his alma mater.
“I have advanced my career over the years and had a couple of products approved,” he said. “I certainly want to keep moving up the ladder.”
BUSMBA 555: Business Plan Development was Dr. Blondino’s favorite course in the online MBA curriculum. He also enjoyed learning about the broad scope of business through all of the courses.
“Doing the business plan really stood out,” he said. “I have done some of what we were taught in the coursework, but putting it all together for the capstone was very valuable.
“It was all new information in the finance and accounting courses. I used some of it, but I don’t look at spreadsheets and accounts all day. I hope it’s going to be applicable in the future. It’s a good background to have, for sure.”
Now that Dr. Blondino has completed the online MBA program, he looks forward to enjoying the California weather with his family more regularly.
“We were all looking forward to me being done and being able to spend nights and weekends together again,” he said. “California is fantastic. We have a joke that there are two nice weather weeks in Virginia — the week of spring and the week of fall. It’s like that same week every day here.”
Although Dr. Blondino was uneasy about enrolling in an online MBA program, he now knows that it is not difficult to navigate the format. He also believes anybody with any computer skill level can succeed in the program.
“The apprehension about doing everything online for folks who aren’t computer savvy was unfounded,” he said. “Everything is quite smooth once you get in there.
“If there’s any concern about being able to navigate through the degree and get value out of it, there shouldn’t be. Plus, the flexibility of working on your own schedule is important.”
Dr. Blondino hopes to take on new challenges in his career and apply the knowledge that he gained in the program to eventually move from the science realm of pharmaceuticals into operations.
“The MBA gives me a better business and operational perspective,” he said. “It gave me some good business practices and some different management ideas for managing people. It was definitely good value for the money.”
Learn more about the Boise State online MBA program.