KOKOMO, Ind. — As a four-year veteran Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA US) employee, Brayden Lucas looks forward to moving up within the company. He’s taking the necessary steps to be eligible when opportunity knocks by enrolling in the new Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) cohort program, a partnership between Indiana University Kokomo and FCA US.
“A lot of the jobs I’m interested in require a master’s degree,” said Lucas, a maintenance supervisor at Indiana Transmission Plant 1. “This opportunity is local, and FCA US was willing to work with the schedule, which will make it easier to complete. This should open a lot of doors to new opportunities for me.”
Lucas is one of 30 FCA US employees who started the program in January, with class once a week on campus and additional time in online instruction. They will complete the program as a cohort, or team, progressing through the program together.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said expanding IU Kokomo’s relationship with FCA US will benefit the region.
“This is a great corporate-university partnership,” she said. “One of our main goals is to continually assess the area’s educational needs and engage and provide opportunities for people who want to advance their education.”
Jason Lewis, human resources manager for FCA US, said the curriculum, faculty, and price played a role in choosing IU Kokomo for the M.B.A. program. He appreciates the opportunity to develop talent within the company, with a convenient schedule.
“We encourage employee development at all levels, especially those motivated to further their careers,” he said. “But finding the time to take classes is a big consideration, and sometimes a deterrent, for working adults. We appreciate that IU Kokomo is willing to work with us to make it convenient for our employees to pursue an advanced degree.”
The first semester will be taught on campus, said Gloria Preece, M.B.A. program director, adding that faculty will teach most of the remaining classes in FCA US facilities. Leaders from both sides identified a time that would work best for the majority of potential students.
“The opportunity for the students to get an AASCB-accredited M.B.A. in a format and at a time that’s convenient for them benefits everyone,” she said. “For FCA US, it provides a chance to grow their talent base locally, with current employees.”
Completing the degree as a cohort builds a support system for the students.
“As a group, they’ll establish relationships among themselves, to help each other along the way,” Preece said.
IU Kokomo and FCA US have a long-established partnership, with many students completing internships and having other opportunities provided by the company.
“We value our relationship with FCA US and this has been a great opportunity for us to expand that relationship as a member of the community,” said Preece.
Beta Jones is a business unit leader on the new FCA US hybrid transmission assembly line, and appreciates the chance to further her education with a schedule that fits around her career.
She also likes that the program participants are all FCA US employees, because they share a common goal.
“We can help each other because we’re in the same business, and we have the same goal: to build quality auto parts,” said Jones, from Russiaville. “It’s nice to do this with people you work with on a regular basis.”
Like Lucas, she hopes earning an M.B.A. will enhance her career.
“I think it will give me better opportunities for growth and development in my company,” she said.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.