Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
How is this for a career change? In two years, Elena Gartner Phillips went from being a music teacher to a senior consultant in strategy and operations at Deloitte Consulting’s Chicago office. And this modern day viola-playing Eliza Doolittle even graduated at the top of the class! What’s her secret? She just dived in and didn’t listen to the naysayers. She eventually led a project team to Ghana to help entrepreneurs build a clean water system. She also earned first place at the Consulting Academy Deloitte Case Competition and was nominated by faculty to be a coach to first years. Talk about scoring one for the introverts!
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Undergraduate School: Northwestern University
Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Music in Viola Performance
Masters School: Rice University
Masters Degree: Master of Music in Viola Performance
Where did you work before enrolling in business school?
Professional Self-Contracted Musician and Teacher: Houston, TX; Hudson Valley area, NY; and Milwaukee, WI
Director, West Point Strings, United States Military Academy at West Point
Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Deloitte Consulting LLP, Cincinnati, OH
Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Consultant, Strategy & Operations, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Chicago, IL
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I worked as a box-office manager for a small, arts non-profit in Chicago during my senior year at Northwestern.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…practicing, taking auditions, freelancing, managing a teaching studio, and wondering how to make it all run better.”
What are your long-term professional goals? Long-term, I want to be self-employed again, working in strategic planning for arts and non-profit organizations.
Favorite Courses: Marketing Strategy, Developing Strategic Capabilities, Brand Asset Management
Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I am most proud of the social impact work that I have done in Africa over the past two years: Working in Ghana to develop a microfinance organization through Kelley’s GLOBASE program and developing a business plan and growth strategy for a clean water organization through the Hoosier Social Impact Fund. Both have enabled me to gain invaluable experience and perspective as well as add value in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My Graduate Career Services coach Pam Roberts and my husband. Pam Roberts for countless hours of listening, teaching me that networking is something that even introverts can be good at, and knowing how to push me to make difficult decisions. [And I want to thank my husband] for his continuous support, patience and willingness to live in two different states because Kelley was the best fit for me.
Why did you choose this business school? Kelley was the place that felt like home. It was the program I interviewed with that best embraced my non-traditional background and enabled me to see how valuable my past experience and music training would be in a corporate setting. I wanted a smaller program where I would have personal access to faculty and staff, and now two years later, I have a wealth of resources in the relationships that I have been able to build.
What did you enjoy most about business school? Working as a second-year coach. Returning to school after the internship, I helped first-years navigate the transition back to school and develop interview skills, which made me realize just how much I had accomplished in the first year of the program.
What is your most memorable moment from business school? There have been a number of memorable moments: receiving internship and job offers, weekend getaways with our Outdoor Club, and IU football tailgates. However, one of the more vivid moments is being completely embarrassed when I was cold-called in our first accounting class. I managed an answer that I am sure confused our professor because I was still speaking using ‘creative musician’ terms instead of actual accounting terminology. I’m pretty sure he pretended that I hadn’t answered.
Fun fact about yourself: To celebrate our sixth anniversary, my husband and I paraglided off of the Tetons.
Favorite book: Of Mice and Men
Favorite movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite musical performer: Yo-Yo Ma
Favorite television show: Mad Men
Favorite vacation spot: British Virgin Islands
What are your hobbies? Running, Yoga, Cooking, Practicing Viola
Twitter Handle: @ellouisegp
What made Ellen such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?
“One of my favorite movies is “Remember the Titans” and I am particularly fond of the character Ronnie (“Sunshine”) Bass. Bass enters a highly competitive environment and is immediately underestimated and misunderstood. Over the course of the movie he turns out to be the best player on the Titan football team, the glue which holds the team together, and the catalyst for the team’s eventual championship.
Ellen is Kelley’s Ronnie Bass. When she arrived on campus and her classmates began to size up their competition she was quickly mischaracterized as “poet” who enrolled in the wrong degree program. It’s understandable considering her introverted personality and music background, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Like Bass, Ellen has become the top student in one of the best classes in Kelley’s history. She performed academically, landing in the top 1% of her class. She performed outside the classroom as a faculty-selected coach, the leader of the capstone week student committee, and as a Dean’s Fellow. She performed in the job market, landing one of the most competitive internship opportunities on campus and then converting that into a full-time job offer (which she accepted.) She performed within the student community by befriending nearly all of her classmates, helping host prospective students on trips to Kelley, becoming the go-to person for mock interviews, and by being a counselor and confidant when the time called for it. If we selected an MVP, Ellen would clearly be ours.
One effective way to judge the success of an individual is to evaluate how much better they make the people and the system around them. With that metric in mind. Ellen deserves to be judged as one of the most successful MBA students in the country – we are all better for having had the privilege of being around her over the last two years.”
– Eric Johnson, director of Graduate Career Services