2015 Best MBAs: Scott Schmidt


Scott Schmidt

University of Iowa, Tippie College of Business

Some MBA students are viewed as prodigies. Others are considered to be climbers, creators, or connectors. The University of Iowa’s Scott Schmidt is a flat out role model. An active duty U.S. Army major who dreams of becoming an entrepreneur, Schmidt earned his class’ unadulterated respect with his ability to manage time and gracefully handle the difficulties he faced at Tippie. Midway through his first semester, Scott’s fourth child, a son, was born. He expertly mastered the juggling act associated with being a full-time student. In his spare time, Schmidt is a volunteer with Junior Achievement, Hawkeye Area Down Syndrome Associate and Madison High School.

Age: 38

Hometown: Madison, NE

Undergraduate School: University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Undergraduate Degree: BS Agricultural Business

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? United States Army, Major. AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot. Five tours overseas; South Korea, Germany, Iraq (3)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? N/A (I was returning to active duty so I did not do a summer internship)

Where will you be working after graduation? United States Army, Major. I will be in Program Management for a radar program. My role is to manage and provide contract oversight to ensure that the necessary requirements are met and delivered on time. Specifically, I will be working closely with Lockheed Martin as they do initial testing, fielding, employment training of soldiers/end users, working on enhancements to the system, and the retirement of legacy systems.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…when I was growing up I knew I wanted to run my own business. I read books in high school about leaders, many of whom went to business school. That planted the seed for me.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still flying every day. I miss it, but business school has shown me the array of opportunities out there that will broaden my career far beyond being a pilot.”

What are your long-term professional goals? After military, I plan to return to Nebraska to become an entrepreneur in the area of commercial-scale non-GMO and organic agriculture. At some point I also hope to run for public office and give back to my community.

Favorite Courses: Managerial Finance (Professor Rietz) and Corporate Investment and Financing Decisions (Professor Garfinkel).

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I served in a command position during each deployment and, as a result, I was responsible for my soldiers’ training and preparations. Easily, the most rewarding part of this was completing our missions and bringing everyone home safely. I was also the first Army officer chosen to fly the AH-64E Apache helicopter.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My father. He is a business owner and I got a chance to grow up watching how he ran his business, and that really instilled a life-long goal to be an entrepreneur myself. His core strengths of integrity, character, and community involvement were cornerstones of his long-term success.

Why did you choose this business school? Location and reputation, initially. As the application process went on, the admissions team really worked hard to accommodate me and tailor the academic program to my personal circumstances. The small class size was also a big draw for me.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The constant learning. Seeing the application of classroom skills. Realizing how expertise in areas like finance, when combined with leadership and other soft skills, make you an effective leader in an organization. After business school, you’re not just a technical expert, you’re also a leader in many other ways.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment, but for me, the most memorable part of this experience is meeting everyone and creating valuable relationships and friendships.

Fun fact about yourself: I was home-schooled growing up. My brother and I are both military pilots so we were able to fly missions together in Iraq.

Favorite book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Favorite movie: Legends of the Fall

Favorite musical performer: U2 and Pearl Jam

Favorite television show: 60 Minutes

Favorite vacation spot: Home. I’ve traveled a lot through my military career, and honestly, I prefer being home with my family.

What are your hobbies? Basketball, sports, reading, aviation, and flying.

What made Scott such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Much of what makes Scott a worthy nominee for the Top 50 MBA Students of 2015 isn’t his contributions to classroom discussions, or his involvement in extracurricular activities.

As a non-traditional student and an active duty member of the United States Army, Scott brought a unique point of view to the classroom that is often missing from traditional debate. Having completed five overseas tours, including three in Iraq, he’s encountered life or death situations that make any classroom case pale in comparison. Those experiences give Scott an outlook that is relatively unique among his peers. Scott also worked to complete the Army’s rigorous and demanding Command and General Staff College course while completing his MBA.

Notably, Scott is an inspiration to his fellow students, in particular in the area of school/life balance and time management. Scott arrived at the University of Iowa with three children under the age of 5 and a fourth on the way. Midway through his first semester, Scott’s fourth child, a son, was born. He expertly mastered the juggling act associated with being a full-time student (much more than a 40-hour-a-week job) and the father of a newborn, impressing the staff, faculty, and his fellow students.

Within a few days of his birth, Scott’s son was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Scott continued to work hard in school despite dealing with an unexpected turn that required him to become an expert on yet another subject – his son’s diagnosis. At the same time he was returning to school after many years outside the classroom, working to keep up in subject areas he hadn’t touched in over a decade. Scott and his family handled the news of his son’s diagnosis with grace, and immersed themselves in local support organizations, including the Hawkeye Area Down Syndrome Association, where they volunteered their time. As Scott himself has said, their son’s diagnosis, while unexpected, has brought incredible happiness into their life; it’s altered the path they had in mind for their family, but in a beautiful way.

This positive outlook in the face of adversity is indicative of Scott’s upbeat nature. He doesn’t ask for special treatment, even when the balance between school and home life is difficult. It is this resilience that makes him a model for his fellow students and an inspiration to the staff and faculty.”

– Dave Deyak, Assistant Dean of the Full-time MBA Program

Best of 2015

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The Complete List: The 50 Most Exceptional MBAs of 2015

Katie Benintende: Making A Difference At UC-Berkeley’s Haas School

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