Lynn Isaak

Passion & Resiliency

Lynn Isaak is graduating from the MBA program this December. As commencement approaches, she shares about her experience in the program and offers advice to current students.

Lynn Isaak (MBA ’22) has two values that she considers especially important in her work: passion and resiliency. After three decades of working in various roles as a civil engineer, Isaak decided to go back to school through the UF MBA Online program. Furthering her education has been a challenge that has reinforced her values and helped her carry them into her professional fields.

Lynn Isaak stands in front of the Panama Canal.

With her background in engineering, Isaak enjoyed learning about the Panama Canal during a class trip to Panama.

Isaak was born in Michigan but moved to Florida when she was in high school and earned her undergraduate degree at the University of South Florida. Since then, she moved to Texas and has been living there with her family and cats for the past 18 years. Her career as a civil engineer has spanned across both states.

For most of her career, Isaak has worked as a project manager, building roads and bridges in Florida and Texas. She has spent decades working with the Departments of Transportation in both states, as well as working for private consulting firms and even starting her own engineering consulting firm. To describe her career timeline, Isaak uses the analogy of a football game.

“The first quarter was with the Florida Department of Transportation, second quarter was in the private consulting space, third quarter was back with another Department of Transportation and the last quarter is back with a consulting firm,” she said. “Overall, my career has been split equally between the public and private sectors. And when this last quarter is done, I’m not going into overtime – the game will be over!”

When the pandemic struck, Isaak decided to make the most of her additional time at home by applying for the MBA program. With several of her family members having graduated from UF in the past, she was eager to join the Gator Nation.

“My husband and a work colleague encouraged me to apply over the summer of 2020,” she said. “They said I’d really enjoy the curriculum and have fun along the way.”

Following her husband’s and colleague’s encouragement, Isaak made the bold choice to apply.

“Warrington was the only business school to which I applied, and I told myself, if I got in, I had to go back to business school,” she said. “My employer had a competitive, application-based tuition assistance program and I was accepted into that program, too, which further solidified my desire to go all-in and take the plunge. So glad I did!”

Although she now lives in Texas, Isaak says that a piece of her heart will always be in Florida. The option to earn her degree online allowed her to be connected with Florida while maintaining her professional career.

“The two-year online program allowed me to fulfill my dreams of being a Gator while living in Texas,” she said. “It was the perfect mix of being flexible to meet my full-time work schedule and being a highly respected, accredited business school, coupled with being affordable even for an out-of-state student.”

Business students do the Gator Chomp in front of the Panama Canal.

Isaak and her fellow UF MBA students show their Gator pride at the Panama Canal.

Isaak’s cohort members within the program also hail from many locations across the US, spanning three different time zones and all working in different professions. Together, they have worked to support each other through their academic pursuits.

“I have met so many amazing students in the program and we have cultivated life-long relationships,” she said. “We have never met in person, but we spent countless hours together on Microsoft Teams and were in the business school trenches together! Super excited to high-five the F2MBAF22 – Team #7 at graduation!”

A highlight of Isaak’s experience with the MBA program was a global immersion trip to Panama in October of this year. While there, she had the opportunity to practice what she had been learning in a foreign country and be immersed into the Panamanian economy and businesses.

“For a lot of us in the program, the theoretical was brought to a practical application and the concepts that we had been learning about became real within the business setting,” she said. “As an engineer, the Panama Canal was on my bucket list of places I wanted to see, and I finally had the opportunity to witness first-hand a few ships passing through the lock system. I was energized by the experience, and a whole world of professional possibilities emerged.

“The experience broadened our views not only of the business world, but of the cultural world, as well, all while embracing the good vibes of Panama.”

From her experiences, Isaak has gained confidence and a global perspective. Looking ahead, she anticipates advancing her career to an executive level. Using her business degree to complement her technical acumen, Isaak is equipped to take on her next challenge.

“My goals are to grow the Texas branch of the company I work for and for it to become a sustainable and profitable organization within the next five years,” she said. “The Texas market is a tough market to break into as an out-of-state firm, but the business plan I have in place is solid and viable to make it happen. Above all, my goal is to grow a team of like-minded professionals and for that team to feel valued and inspired to achieve their goals while enjoying rolling up their sleeves for everyone’s success.”

Landscape view of Panama City.

Isaak was able to practice what she had been learning in the classroom during a class trip to Panama.

To other students seeking to advance their education and careers, Isaak offers advice.

“Remember the reason why you are pursuing your degree,” she said. “Only you can motivate yourself when it comes down to it to finish your degree. It’s got to be your passion, not someone else’s.

“That passion will keep you going when times get tough.”

Holding onto her values helped Isaak through a difficult time. After suffering a violent injury which left her unable to walk for several months, Isaak needed to draw on her passion and resiliency more than ever.

“While recovering physically and mentally, I had to have the grit, perseverance and resolve to stick with the program,” she said. “I’m so proud to be walking across the stage to receive my MBA and official induction into the Gator Nation! I found resiliency within my passion, and you can, too – Go Gators!”