2017 MBAs To Watch: Corey McMillen, UCLA (Anderson)

Corey McMillen

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Age: 31

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Central Florida, Criminal Justice

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? United States Marine Corps; Director of Logistics, Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Bain & Company, Los Angeles

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • President of class section during first year
  • Vice President of Education, Management Consulting Association
  • Vice President of Corporate Outreach, Anderson Veterans Association
  • Interview Preparation Team Coach, Management Consulting Association
  • Anderson Career Team Coach, Parker Career Management Center
  • Orientation Section Leader
  • John Wooden Global Leadership Fellow
  • MBA of the Month, December 2016
  • Helping veterans in my network transition to the private sector

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m extremely proud of my contributions to Anderson’s Veterans Association, namely the networking events we put together this year. Networking is one of the greatest challenges for transitioning veterans, and we were able to host several events that brought companies and veterans together. The first event we hosted at the start of the school year was a veterans-only career night, which enabled top employers and students from across the region to start building relationships early in the recruiting cycle. The event was a huge success with over 50 veterans attending from across five business schools. In addition to the career night, I set up separate networking events with every major consulting firm that recruits at Anderson. These events ranged from office visits to case interview workshops to happy hours, and they provided an opportunity for Anderson’s first-year veterans to strengthen their relationships with each firm. The reason I’m most proud of these contributions is that we impacted veterans well beyond the walls of Anderson. There are talented veterans looking for jobs all over the country and there are great employers who want to hire them. I think these events provide a good example of how we can strengthen relationships between the two groups.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leading Marines was the greatest privilege I could have asked for in life, and I’m tremendously proud to say I was a Marine Officer. I can’t think of a greater responsibility than to be trusted with the personal and professional development of our nation’s most selfless citizens. Every opportunity to train a Marine, promote a Marine, help a Marine through a personal challenge, or watch a Marine grow into a leader warrants being my proudest professional moment. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Elisa Long is by far my favorite professor. There are certain people in life that just inspire you to be a better person – she is one of them. Her passion for teaching and our personal success was contagious in the classroom and still inspires me today.

Favorite MBA Courses? Insight-to-Outcome, Business Strategy, and Data and Decisions

Why did you choose this business school? There are four key reasons I chose Anderson:

1) Academics – Attending a top business school with rigorous academics was very important to me since I have a non-traditional background.

2) People & Culture – Starting my career surrounded by the right people was paramount. You don’t have to spend much time at Anderson to observe the vibrant and collaborative nature of the student body. The collaborative part was especially important because I knew there would be a lot of intelligent and competitive people in business school, but Anderson really differentiates by harnessing that energy to elevate the group rather than individuals.

3) Location – After being stationed in Southern California with the Marines, I knew this is where I wanted to build my network and start my career.

4) Veteran Friendly – After eleven years in the military, it was critical for me to transition at a business school that understands and appreciates veterans. Anderson has more than lived up to this reputation.

What did you enjoy most about business school? It’s really the people I’m around every day who have made business school so enjoyable. Not a class or project goes by where I don’t learn something new from a peer or have an idea pressure-tested as part of the group decision-making process. Plus, Anderson’s admissions team does a great job picking people who are both smart and fun to work with.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Anderson has fundamentally changed the way I think about teams. Whether it is a club event or academic assignment, we are constantly working in diverse groups. Before business school, I didn’t fully appreciate how valuable this diversity is when it comes to problem solving. The best teams I have worked on at Anderson have been comprised of people with different academic, professional, and personal backgrounds. A great example is the team I was on during the Deloitte Case Competition in my first year. We had a school teacher from Boston, an engineer from South Korea, a business analyst from China, and a former U.S. Marine. Even though there were many teams comprised of former financial analysts and consultants, our team finished in 2nd Place because we could draw on our unique experiences and backgrounds to develop a creative solution to the problem Deloitte put before us.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was really surprised by the numberof people in the class above mine who were willing to go out of their way to invest in me. When I arrived at Anderson, most of the second-year students had just returned from summer internships with great job offers in hand. Instead of relaxing and celebrating, they immediately started investing in my class. I couldn’t believe the time commitments they made, even on weekends. Since then, I’ve learned that this is at the center of what it means to be an Anderson student, and it has been a pleasure to pay it forward now that I am in a position to help others reach their goals.

What was the hardest part of business school? I completely underestimated how challenging it would be to transition to business school after over a decade in the military. Everything from the bubbly social atmosphere to company networking events was completely foreign to me (and a bit terrifying!). I relied heavily on my classmates, Anderson’s Veterans Association, and the Parker Career Center to navigate the job search during this transition. Looking back, it is quite neat to see how much I’ve adapted and grown in under two years. I don’t think there are words to express the gratitude I have towards everyone who supported me through this process.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? While it is cliché, just be yourself through the application process and during business school. It is so easy to get caught up in GMAT scores and GPAs that you forget how valuable your background and experience really are to the people around you. At Anderson, I learned that a team generates its strength from diversity of experience and thought, along with hard work. That is why it is so important to be yourself.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that it would take a lot more than the leadership skills I acquired in the Marines to be successful in the private sector.”  

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…leading Marines, likely in a far-off land.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? There are two people I greatly admire and try to emulate. First is former Marine Corps General and current U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. There are two qualities about him that resonate with me: 1) He has spent his entire life completely dedicated to studying and mastering his profession; and 2) He is renowned for leading by example in even the most challenging environments. These two traits will suit anyone well in their endeavors.

The other person I admire is Warren Buffet. Warren has amassed a fortune over the years, but most importantly, he has done it with integrity, humility, and class. Most people would let a fortune of that magnitude change them, but Warren still lives in the same house and shows up to work every day to do what he loves. Moreover, his philanthropy is unparalleled as he has pledged to donate nearly all of his wealth to charity. As legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden said, “it isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I had a blast during my summer internship and can see myself pursuing a long-term career with Bain & Company. The fast pace, intellectual rigor, and incredible people were a perfect fit. That said, I’m going to enjoy the next few years and see where life takes me. If business school has taught me anything, it’s that I have no idea where I’ll be in three to four years. Lastly, I’m very passionate about helping veterans transition into good jobs. During my own transition, I couldn’t believe how tough it was to tell my story in a way that highlighted the skills I can bring to an employer. Having gone through this with an incredible support system at Anderson, I would like to help support other veterans earn the jobs they want and deserve.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? There are four people who immediately come to mind. First is my mom, who is an amazing person and deserves credit for any success I have had in life. Not only did I learn my work ethic from her, but she has supported me in every goal I have set out to accomplish, including signing a parental release form for me to join the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old. I’d also thank my aunt and uncle who saw the potential in me long before I did – I wouldn’t be at UCLA Anderson if it wasn’t for them! Lastly, I’d thank Chris Weber, my career advisor at Anderson. The programming he has developed and his personal mentorship through this transition have been unbelievable. There is no way I would have ended up with my dream job had it not been for him.

Fun fact about yourself: I moved nine times in my first four years as a Marine Officer. I even stopped using boxes since I could fit everything into portable plastic containers.

Favorite book: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

Favorite movie: Gladiator by Ridley Scott

Favorite musical performer: Guns N’ Roses – a little outdated but still my favorite.

Favorite television show: The Big Bang Theory

Favorite vacation spot: Osaka, Japan  

Hobbies? Running, hiking, surfing, paddle boarding, diving, basically anything outdoors.

What made Corey such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Corey began impacting our environment the moment he arrived on campus. He was immediately chosen as section president and has accepted the opportunity to lead at Anderson ever since. Rather than go after popular leadership roles, Corey focused on areas that would enable him to give back in his own unique way. He was part of a core team that revamped how we prepare our first years for the arduous consulting recruiting process – which earned him “MBA of the Month” and continued to be an advocate for his military brethren. These efforts and more culminated in him being chosen for the coveted John Wooden Global Leadership Award. We are indebted to Corey for his devotion to doing whatever he can to make it clear that Anderson belongs with the select few top business schools in the world. Corey is the kind of selfless leader that people gravitate to because they know Corey really does care about each individual’s success. The amount of time Corey dedicated to classmates and Anderson is simply astounding!”

Gary Fraser
Assistant Dean, Full Time Student Affairs
UCLA Anderson

Rob Weiler
Associate Dean, Full Time MBA Program
UCLA Anderson

 

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: THE STORIES OF 100 EXTRAORDINARY GRADUATES FROM THE CLASS OF 2017