NDSU MBA program: ‘Making me a more valuable employee and team leader’


Larissa Willett and Katie Mastel are working professionals pursuing their Master of Business Administration degrees at North Dakota State University. While their careers don’t have much in common, they’re both continuing their education to strengthen their business network and become stronger leaders.

“Pursuing my MBA is something I’ve wanted to do since very early on in my professional career,” said Willett. “My goals have been to develop as a strategic thinker, improve my analytical and critical thinking skills, expand my communication skills, widen my view on a variety of business topics and become an overall stronger leader.”

Willett has spent her professional life working in various accounting and finance roles. She discovered in high school that she was good with numbers. She held several accounting roles at Target Corporate in Minneapolis early in her career. But the desire to be back in this region led to a job as a controller at SJE Inc., in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Mastel recently earned her undergraduate degree from NDSU in marketing. Her minor was political science. During her time as an undergraduate, Mastel served as the Student Body Vice President and also interned at the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce. She’s currently their government affairs and advocacy manager, where she leads public policy and advocacy efforts to advance pro-business policies. 

Mastel said the NDSU MBA program will help develop stronger management skills and prepare her for future opportunities.

“There already have been numerous opportunities to apply course work to my current job as a manager,” Mastel said. “This educational step will certainly strengthen both my technical and general competencies, making me a more valuable employee and team leader. Because of the invaluable diverse skills taught in the MBA program, my education will certainly lend itself well for the rest of my career, no matter what path I take.”

Life-long learning is important to both Willett and Mastel. The management and leadership skills taught in the program, along with the in-person learning environment at NDSU, encourage strong collaborations to widen their professional networks.

The NDSU MBA program’s class schedule makes it easier to balance pursuing a graduate degree with managing a full-time career. Most courses are held just one night a week for eight weeks, with expanded distance learning options for remote students.

“I have two young boys at home, so it has been a team effort to balance everything. But I am hopeful they will remember me furthering my education and it will instill in them the importance of education,” Willett said.

Willett is in her final semester at NDSU and will graduate this winter. Mastel just started in the MBA program and expects to graduate by winter 2022.

“I would absolutely recommend the MBA program for those already in or seeking management roles. I would expect this program to enhance my leadership skills and provide excellent connections,” Mastel said.

NDSU offers 87 master’s and 52 doctoral degree programs, as well as 21 certificate programs. Explore the educational path that best fits your professional goals by visiting ndsu.edu today.