Dr. Sandie Dela Cruz got a glimpse of some of the issues that can arise when running a business after she briefly took over her family’s audiology practice in her home country — the Philippines.
She didn’t dwell on those issues. Instead, she enrolled in the online MBA program with an Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Specialization at LSU Shreveport to help herself solve them. Dela Cruz will graduate in 2018.
“Many of my colleagues have failed because they didn’t know how to run a proper practice,” she said. “Having an audiology clinic is not just about serving our patients; it’s also being able to run it properly so our doors stay open. With billing and with the current marketing, it’s hard for us as private practitioners to compete with the bigger chains. The MBA has definitely given me a competitive advantage.”
Dela Cruz, who is a medical device consultant for Sonova Group, hopes to permanently take over the family business someday. When she does, she knows the MBA will have helped provide her with the knowledge she will need to help the business survive and thrive.
“The MBA coursework made me understand what the mistakes were,” she said. “I took a course with Dr. [Michael] Meeks called Small Business and Family Enterprise [MADM 752], and I saw what the problem was when I started taking that course.”
Dela Cruz, who earned a Doctorate of Audiology online from the University of Florida in 2014, has acquired additional perspective to go along with the knowledge she is gaining in the online MBA program by working outside of the family business.
“My dad worked for somebody else, so he was running his company as a corporate company,” she said. “I was running it more like this is our family business. Taking a job outside of our family business will help me develop our practice someday.”
From Los Angeles to Louisiana
Dela Cruz opted to attend LSUS online because of the low cost of the MBA program and the school’s Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (ACCSB) accreditation. The online format has worked well with her busy schedule, which includes seeing patients.
“Especially because it’s a supplemental course for me, I don’t want to spend $100,000 for an MBA,” she said. “I want to learn from great minds and from other people, but I’m not willing to be in debt again. Sometimes my job will take more than 12 hours a day, but I like the flexibility that LSUS has with the type of curriculum they provide. Quite honestly, it’s a great program .”
Although she already had a master’s degree in clinical audiology from University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, Dela Cruz didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to learn more with another degree.
“When I submit my resume, some employers think I’m a forever learner because I never stop going to school,” she said. “My point of view is, I don’t see any harm in going to school again, because you are learning and you are adapting to a new way. You have to see what’s new and adapt to it — adapt or die.”
Even with more than a year of school remaining, Dela Cruz already knows she made the right decision to enroll at LSUS.
“Aside from learning, we do presentations, group meetings and essays,” she said. “I love how [MBA Director] Dr. [Tami] Knotts and Dr. Meeks teach; it’s more of a Socratic type of learning. The most important part is the depth and content of what you are writing. That’s what I love about it.”
Not So Fast
Dela Cruz grew up with parents who are both doctors. Her sister is also a doctor. Her dad initially wanted her to become an optometrist to work in the eye and ear clinic he opened before they came to the United States.
“I was supposed to be the eye part,” she said. “After working for one year as an optometrist, I told my dad, ‘You know what? This is not something I want to do. I want to be able to help us in our business because that’s what I love.’ He said, ‘Yes,’ and I took up audiology and went from there. In our family, we really do value education.”
The plan was for Dela Cruz to come to the United States for her doctorate, and then return home to the Philippines. Instead, she met her future husband, Michael, got married in 2015 and stayed.
“I was taking BADM 700 [Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance], which started the week I was getting married,” she said. “I was studying for class. That was tough.”
Now, Dela Cruz has settled into married life. She likes to cook, hike and swim in her sparse free time.
“I love the serenity of hiking,” she said. “I’m not the type of person that’s very competitive. I want to start early, see nature and enjoy it.”
Dela Cruz is glad she is able to earn an MBA online so she can still have some time to enjoy those things and enhance her business acumen.
“A lot of people think because it’s online that it’s easier; it definitely is not ,” she said. “You have to have proper time management. Professors expect you to finish certain things at certain times. You can’t just go up to them and say, ‘Hey, I’m really having trouble.’ No, you have to finish it.
“Time management is very important. My advice is to try to connect with other peers in the group and try to be proactive with discussions, because the input of your classmates is important. They come from different industries, so you will also learn some things from them.”
Once she finishes the online MBA degree program, she plans to make a trip to Shreveport for graduation.
“I will definitely attend graduation,” she said. “I think it’s the fruit of your labor, even if a lot of people think you don’t have to do it. I worked hard for it; I want to do it.”
Learn more about the LSUS online MBA program with an Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise Specialization.
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