Getting through an MBA program can be quite the challenge, but Rob and Ali Chockley had each other when times got tough.
“Originally, it was Ali’s idea to expand her career opportunities and increase her value to employers, and I was like, ‘Hey, why not? I might as well do this too,'” Rob said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and it just made sense to do it together so we could help each other out and experience it together.”
The Chockleys, both oil and gas professionals, spent two years in the UL Lafayette MBA online program — Rob with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Ali with a concentration in Sales Leadership. They graduated together from the B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration in May 2020.
Ali and Rob were able to learn from each other in the classes they took together and separately.
“When one of us didn’t grasp a concept right away, the other one could help explain it better,” Ali said. “Plus you just get the added benefits of being able to talk through the information and case studies to help solidify the learning.”
“Some of the sales leadership courses I took were also very applicable to Rob, such as customer relationship management,” Ali said.
“Sharing information with each other and talking about our courses was almost like taking two sets of classes,” Rob added. “I got a lot of sales leadership, and she got a lot of the entrepreneurship.”
Knowing the Drill
Rob and Ali are on different paths in oil and gas. She works in engineering sales and his focus is the upstream oil sector.
“I did my undergrad in chemistry at UL Lafayette, and I had started working a 14/14 rotation offshore,” Ali said. “I could get really bored on my 14 days off, so I was looking for some type of online MBA program to keep me busy, while at the same time improving myself.”
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business,” Rob said. “About halfway through the program, I had the opportunity to start up my own LLC doing consulting in the oil and gas industry. So it was interesting to be able to apply a lot of the stuff that I was learning in the program to real life in real time.”
The online format meant staying organized was crucial, which Ali had an easier time with than Rob.
“She would keep me on track,” he said. “I’d sometimes forget, ‘Oh, we have an assignment due tomorrow? Oops,’ when she’d say, ‘Have you done that yet?’ So it helped.”
But it was more than just keeping each other accountable that helped the couple.
“It wasn’t like one was experiencing life and fun and doing things without the other,” Ali said. “We were both pretty dedicated to our studies during the week, so it didn’t make me jealous of him being able to live life while I had my head down in a textbook. We were both on the same path at that point.”
Working hard to get through the program allowed Ali and Rob the opportunity to play hard when they weren’t studying.
“We took a trip to Hawaii in the middle of it, even taking some exams online in Maui. We went to Australia for a wedding and vacation. I had some other international business trips in the middle of a few terms,” Rob said. “We were still living life. The flexibility of the online format was good and it fit our lifestyle.”
Deadlines and Due Dates
The couple were halfway through the program when they learned they were going to have a baby.
“We seem to love stacking everything at once, so when we found out that I was pregnant, we had to figure out how many classes we needed to double up on before Evelyn arrived,” Ali said. “I didn’t want to be studying while sleep deprived and taking care of a newborn child, trying to finish up this MBA.”
Ali and Rob managed to complete their coursework right before their baby girl was born, but it was not an easy pregnancy.
“The professors were very understanding about the situation, and if we needed another couple of days to finish an assignment, or if we had the chance to work ahead during some weeks, they were very accommodating of that,” Rob said.
When Ali needed a break, all she had to do was open the lines of communication with faculty.
“I had to email professors a few times to ask for a day or two extension when it came to writing papers because of the rough pregnancy,” she said.
The Chockleys have some advice for anyone considering a return to school for their MBA.
“Really think hard about your concentration. At first, I wanted to do the Project Management concentration, but it didn’t end up meshing with my career goals,” Ali said.
“The value proposition in getting an MBA from UL Lafayette is great,” Rob added. “It’s relatively inexpensive, and the online format is convenient, making UL Lafayette a good choice for anyone seeking to broaden their career options.”
With MBAs in hand and a newborn in their arms, the Chockleys feel ready for anything.
“We’re pretty driven individuals, and driven as a team too,” Ali said. “We are always up for one more challenge.”
Learn more about UL Lafayette’s MBA online program and nine concentration options.