Online MBA, Class of 2015
Director of Materials R&D, YTCA

Stefan Maat specializes in science.

He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in physics and has more than 70 issued or pending patents before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the field of magnetic sensors and storage technology. But even as a specialist who was well-entrenched in the sciences, Stefan recognized the value of functional business education.

“In today’s fast-paced and globally connected world it is important to speak a common language. One such language is that of finance and accounting, which helps to evaluate projects or entire businesses and to make educated business decisions. Marketing is another important discipline that explains and communicates the value of an offered product or service to potential and existing customers around the world. For this reason, I found taking the courses in finance and marketing as very redeeming and useful.”

Those finance and marketing courses are part of the WSU online MBA program, which Stefan began in August of 2012. At the time, he had already built an extensive network of contacts in science and engineering. However, the Carson College of Business presented him with the opportunity to expand that network considerably.

“During the MBA program I have met many students with a variety of professional backgrounds,” Stefan says. “It was a mind-opening experience to approach business problems with a diverse group of people that did not just consist of engineers, and to experience how creatively and efficiently problems can be solved building on everyone’s particular area of knowledge and strength.”

Going into the program, Stefan was aware of the risks that some online programs present. “One of the obvious concerns with taking an online education is to feel isolated where the Internet is only used as a means to receive and submit assignments,” he says. “I can testify, however, that during the WSU online MBA program I never felt isolated. Instructors were very timely and knowledgeable in answering questions by email or posting to the online collaboration space, and they stimulated group discussions by hosting multiple weekly videoconferences.”

Since enrolling in the online MBA program, Stefan has developed a profound sense of belonging to the WSU family.

“I attended several local alumni and college sports events where I met former and present Cougars. I traveled to Pullman with my family to participate in the commencement ceremony, and I had the pleasure to finally meet many of the students in person who I interacted with during the program. I felt proud and a sense of accomplishment at graduation and to introduce my kids to the WSU campus in the hope they become future Cougars.”

Stefan has a healthy appreciation for the fact that, today, all business is global business.

“Being in a management position for a global company carries a unique responsibility as decisions will have global reach,” Stefan said. And he acknowledges the role his WSU education played in achieving that management position. “I believe that getting an MBA from WSU was a decisive factor in getting my present job as materials R&D director at YTC America Inc., the North American corporate R&D center and wholly owned subsidiary of Yazaki Corporation, Japan.”

“It is important for today’s professionals to have an understanding of international business practices as they serve as a standard while being respectful of local customs and value systems,” he says. “Building relationships on trust among business partners by making ethical decisions is the foundation to building and operating a successful global business. I am extremely proud and honored to work for a company with a global footprint. Yazaki does not only have operations in more than 40 countries, but its products are also used all over the world.”

“In my current position, a good sense for making sound business decisions alongside managing the scientific aspect of R&D programs is required,” Stefan said. “The knowledge I acquired during the WSU MBA program gave me a good understanding of how to make technical decisions within the framework of operating a successful business.”

Hearing Stefan talk about the education he received, it’s no surprise that he’s such an enthusiastic ambassador for the program.

“I can warmly recommend the WSU online MBA program to future prospective students. Besides getting and excellent education in business it is a wonderful experience to build on personally and professionally,” he says.