2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Oliver Convertini, Ohio State (Fisher)

Oliver Convertini

Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

Age: 40

“Equally generous and loquacious, a social, passionate leader and veteran dedicated to people and works.”

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Family Members: Victoria Mitchell (Mother), Christopher Mitchell (Brother)

Fun fact about yourself: I participated in the Running of The Bulls in Pamplona, Spain and lived to talk about it.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The Ohio State University / B.A. – Arts & Sciences, Community College of the Air Force / CCAF – Aerospace Technology & Engineering

Where are you currently working? Graduate Student / Entrepreneur & Consultant (self-employed)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I will volunteer time for an international organization that supports the lives of displaced veterans and active soldiers from all over the world, providing financial resources to support their families while they are deployed. I also support troops in their desire to obtain higher education.

I have also been the cultural education lead for the Columbus Italian Club, creating the organization of in-person educational sessions to teach other members of my ethnic/cultural background about their history, heritage, and current socioeconomic events in relation to the world today. Finally, I teach beginning level Italian language.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being the first person in my family to both graduate college and obtain a Graduate degree makes completing EMBA program is a proud achievement for myself and my family. My mother was a single parent and sacrificed everything for my brother and I. Seeing the joy in her face at my graduation ceremony as I gave our class’s reflection speech was worth every sacrifice and concession I had to make in order to do the program. However, the personal event I feel most humbled by was in the submission of my final exam paper for the Dean’s Financial Management course. This was an assignment given to us at the beginning of the semester due to the comprehensive expectations as a deliverable. After completing this, my paper was incorporated my paper as an instructional example for their curriculum.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? An achievement I will always be thankful and proud of was in the creation of my start-up company. I saw a “Blue Ocean” opportunity to provide a solution in a space where disruption was needed. From there, I validated the idea by the following: 1) raising $1.25M in pre-seed funding, and 2) Achieving sales in the market that made huge positive impacts in both our clients’ operations and in the guest experiences of their customers. The knowledge that my team and I were able to make a positive difference in the economic prosperity of our community (and those all over the country) is an experience that I will take with me in every venture I take on in the future.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Dan Oglevee, who taught our Entrepreneurship course, stands out to me. Launching a start-up company is an immensely difficult but rewarding venture, where the odds seem to be always stacked against you at times. During the program, our company faced some very large, unexpected challenges that, as a leader within my start-up’s organization, were weighing on me 10x. It was Professor Oglevee’s experiential guidance and instruction, coupled with the honesty of his own challenges he had previously faced in this space, that allowed me to do the following. First, it helped me improve upon my own subject matter knowledge and strategy on how to best traverse the terrain within the “start-up world.” Second, it gave me the perspective and affirmation for our team’s efforts and extended to me a personal strength and confidence to continue pushing through, no matter the outcome of our difficult challenges we were facing.

Taking an idea you have – and then deciding to take that idea and launch a business for the first time – is a profound interpersonal journey. Walking away from any real stability or routine and risking everything is a surreal experience.

When things take a turn for the worse, you feel a lot of pressure – not just for yourself, but for the well-being your employees’ (of whom I had 15), your stakeholders, and your clients’ operations (one of which being a major professional sports team). It can be quite overpowering as it’s people’s futures and the direction of their lives that are now at stake.

Professor Oglevee showed me through his teachings that I wasn’t alone in the hardships I was facing as a civilian leader of a company. Instead, these “tough” situations aren’t new occurrences in this nuanced professional environment I found myself in. He demonstrated the same leadership quality, instructional capability, support, and personal investment that I had seen in only a few of the best military leaders from my time in the service. And because of him, I know that I was able to be a better leader and decision-maker.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I was very aware of the quality of the Academic Institution that Ohio State and the Fisher College of Business had established. And that awareness was further realized as I continued my professional journey, which took me to three continents and 14 different countries as both an active -duty veteran and civilian-working professional. The professional quality of Fisher MBA alumni and the caliber of corporate partnerships of the university made my decision to select Fisher College of Business (Ohio State University) the first choice for my Graduate-Level education.

As I went through the application process, it was the intentional care and thoughtful discourse that I had with the Executive MBA Program’s Administration team that became the ultimate differentiator for Fisher. I could easily see the personal care they took in who they wanted to be a part of their program because, as students and alumni, we too reflect their efforts. So, if this team cared as much about who they welcomed into their institution’s family, and the obvious care they took into crafting an executive-level education experiences, was confident that Fisher College of Business was the clear choice.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest takeaway from this program which I applied directly applied to my work comes from my Operations Course taught by Dr. Aravind Chandrasekaran. His teachings and methodology for engaging stakeholders (both internal and external of the company) was exactly the example of instruction I was hoping to experience from the EMBA program. I was able to take his guidance into assessing and managing process improvement, integrating it into my own approach real-time with active account management and internal projects for my company. Furthermore, it enhanced my ability to teach my own direct reports and employees on ways that they too can apply what I had learned into their own tasks and endeavors. I would literally learn from his content on a Friday session, and directly apply it into projects on Monday, at work. This “instant value-add” was incredible to experience and very motivating. I’m proud to say that this sharing inspired one of my managers to seek his own MBA experience. That employee is set to graduate next year.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Walking into this program, I was unsure of how I would measure up to the caliber of people that would be in my cohort. Academically, I have a non-traditional background as it pertains to perhaps more traditional undergraduate business degrees: I do not have one. And despite what I hope to be a diverse and relevant professional experience across different industries, I was uneasy about my ability to contribute after hearing about the careers of my colleagues in the program.

By the end of the first session, I realized that I did belong there, equal among the rest of my cohort. Even more, everyone else had similar feelings of self-doubt. So, my advice is to ignore those doubts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in fear of looking “dumb.”

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Here is the question on many students’ minds: “Can I do this?“. The answer is YOU CAN. When it comes to the inferred question of personal “skill or capability,” I absolutely had the ability to do this work. It’s amazing the difference in your “capability” to do anything when that “thing” is something YOU want to do.

As an undergraduate student, I remember not being sure of who I was or what I wanted to do. This disposition does not make for a well-focused or confident student. But I chose to do this program and wanted to do this work. So, whether I found something hard or challenging in the program, I got it done. And you’re not alone: your cohort and team members are in it with you and there is always someone to support you in an area that you might not be as strong.

With the question of work-life balance… You need to get out of your own head and stop looking for all the reasons why you shouldn’t do this program. Instead, focus on the reality that you can do this if you want to. You simply just need to sit down and do the work to adapt your personal and professional schedule. And just like your cohort members supported you, your family and professional colleagues will support you too as this is a value-add to everyone’s life in your environment.

What was your biggest regret in business school? The regret that stands out was not taking more advantage of the Mentorship Resource that was available to us by the program. I think it’s tough, when you start the program, to feel confident in engaging anyone, let alone a stranger, to whom you want to entrust any of your vulnerabilities. As I look back, the moment our cohort, started to open up and seek each other out as partners and confidants enriched the EMBA Journey for each one of us. I can only imagine how that would have happened, even more so if I had sought a relationship with one of the alumni mentors. But this program has helped to change that perspective, and I recognize the importance and value of a network and forming that inner circle of people to act as my own “personal board of directors.”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I wish I could highlight several individuals from the program. But the first name to stand apart for me is Stephanie Green. Stephanie is an incredibly kind, humble, and generous person. She was willing from the start to be open about herself and her journey. She works in the financial sector, a Senior VP in private wealth management at a large financial institution. She is also the first African American Woman to go through her Company’s Management / Advancement program. She, by all accounts, has “made it” already. Having already reached the senior tiers of company leadership, Stephanie was driven by a desire to continue her education and personal growth, regardless of what “rung in the ladder” she has already reached.

Her personal inspiration comes from her grandmother, who also had sought a graduate level education much later in her life. Stephanie’s passion for education and personal growth could be seen daily as she showed up every session, sitting in the front row, always taking notes and asking meaningful questions that drove insightful discussion within the classroom. Most importantly, she is a friend that I made and in whom I feel most thankful for having. And while she would admittedly mention the relevance of a not-so-far-off retirement for herself, I am proud to say that she just accepted an offer for further advancement in her company, where she will oversee a massive geography of market – once again showing us all that growth never stops.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I chose the EMBA program, because the education is only half the value of what you should get out of going through a graduate program experience. It’s the PEOPLE who are the other half of what makes this experience worthwhile. The meaningful relationships you form in expanding your personal network and incredible life-time friendships is the true legacy of what makes this educational experience so much more impactful. The EMBA program’s design on engagement and interpersonal communication was important for me. And it is the intangible vibrancy of this shared experience amongst all of the cohort that enhances your own personal growth. The focus on in-person interaction, networking events, GEMBA visits, Immersion Experiences, and corporate visits is what sets the EMBA program aside from an online or part-time experience.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to take what I’ve learned from my education and experience and pay it forward to teammates or leaders I work with. My specific goal personally is to now re-attack the entrepreneurial world and strive to succeed in an exit. Regardless of whether that comes to fruition, I know that I can get up and do it again – all while still creating value in the lives of my customers, and enrich the lives of my would-be employees, friends and family.

What made Oliver such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Oliver Convertini is an exceptional individual who has not only excelled academically but has also demonstrated remarkable leadership, compassion, empathy and resilience in the face of personal challenges.

Despite personal hardships, Oliver maintained an unwavering positive attitude and never allowed the challenges he was facing to hinder his commitment to his studies or his dedication to supporting others. Oliver consistently went above and beyond to provide guidance, mentorship, and encouragement to his fellow students, fostering a supportive and uplifting environment.

Moreover, Oliver’s ability to persevere in the face of adversity has served as an inspiration to the entire EMBA cohort. His resilience, determination, and optimistic outlook was instrumental in helping a number of his classmates overcome their own personal and professional challenges. Specific quotes from classmates include:

“Oliver is a role model in our class in many ways – his thoughtful insights during class and his ability to relate class subjects to current events helps the entire class link our discussions to “real-life”. He is always willing to assist other classmates both in and out of class.”

“Oliver has always wonderfully contributed thoughtfully to every course within the EMBA program. He is always engaged and provided leadership and value both internally and externally throughout our journey.”

Oliver’s contributions to the EMBA program, his dedication to learning, and his supportive and engaging presence have left a lasting impact on his classmates and the program as a whole. Without question, he embodies the qualities of a true leader and team player. It was a privilege having Oliver as a member of the EMBA Class of 2023 and it is my sincere hope that we continue to attract and welcome individuals of his caliber to future cohorts.”

Daniel D. Oglevee, MBA
Academic Director, EMBA
Sr. Lecturer, Finance
Department of Finance


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.