2015 MBA To Watch: Kareem Edwards


Kareem J. Edwards


University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“It can be easy for people to be passionate about things, but putting them into action like Kareem has done takes courage, tenacity, maturity, sensitivity, and drive.” That’s how Heather Byrne, the managing director of Ross’s MBA program, describes a few of Kareem Edwards’ strengths. As a student, Edwards co-founded Manbassador, an organization designed to fight gender inequality. He also served as president of the Black Business Student Association, along with being one of 100 global MBAs selected to present at and participate in the 2015 MBA World Summit in Barcelona, Spain. He will be joining Kraft Foods as an assistant brand manager after graduation.

Age: 30

Hometown: Far Rockaway, NY

Undergraduate School: DePauw University

Undergraduate Degree: Mathematics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? From 2007–2010, I worked at Lehman Brothers / Barclays Investment Bank as a Money Markets Sales Assistant. From 2010 – 2013, I worked for Bank of America Merrill Lynch as a Capital Markets Business Analyst, AVP.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? A.T. Kearney, San Francisco; Consumer Retail

Where will you be working after graduation? Kraft Foods, Assistant Brand Manager

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…after a successful 5-year career in finance, I decided to pursue a new challenge in a different industry.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…coaching and training junior staff members while fostering both an independent yet cohesive and productive team environment while developing career paths and retaining talent.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I strive to become an entrepreneur that owns several businesses (real estate development, food franchises, and groceries stores) in low-income areas to help improve and enrich the community. I plan on hiring members from within the community in the hopes of providing training and scholarships in order to allow them to become self-motivated.

Favorite Courses: Management and Organization: Leading with Values, Management and Organization:  Navigating Change, and Strategy: New Age Innovation

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of?

Crain’s Chicago Business 20 In Their 20’s: In 2013 I was recognized as one of today’s most impressive up-and-comers in Chicago. The recognition is a testament to my team’s commitment, hard-work and passion to work together to serve our clients. Additionally, I think the recognition speaks to my leadership capabilities in defining an ambiguous situation and leading a team to success.

College Degree: In school, more education translates into more knowledge; and in life, more education yields more opportunities and greater control over one’s circumstances. As a first generation college student, my success in education has allowed me contribute to changing my family’s trajectory.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My mother. From a very young age she instilled in me life-long values that have helped me become successful in my professional and personal life. She is the true epitome of sacrifice, hard work, and fortitude. As a child, I watched her make sacrifices for anyone from our immediate family, to complete strangers without complaining. Her humility and commitment to creating, supporting, and strengthening communities is second to none. Observing her as a child, I quickly learned that sum is grater than its parts. Thus, my community is always greater than my personal gain and it’s important to make sacrifices to ensure that my community or team is successful.

Why did you choose this business school? While researching various business schools, I researched rankings and the core industries and companies within each school. The main differential for choosing the Ross School of Business was the various community members including current students, alumni, and faculty and staff. Every person I met was extremely down to earth, intelligent, and passionate about Ross. I knew that, at Ross, I could be myself. Entering a community where I would feel both valued and challenged as an individual was extremely important because I desperately wanted to challenge myself in and outside of the classroom in order to become a stronger leader.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Having access to various perspectives, whether that was in the classroom or through one-on-one conversations. Ross is an inclusive community that creates endless opportunities to interact with diverse members of the community. There have been numerous times in or out of the classroom where I said to myself, “I would have never thought about that,” or “that’s an interesting and different perspective.”

What is your most memorable moment from business school? At the end of March 2015, I had the opportunity to represent Ross by participating in the 2015 MBA World Summit in Barcelona, Spain. The MBA World Summit brought 100 MBA students from around the world to share best practices, discuss various topics, and establish a global MBA network. During the conference, I had the honor and privilege to present on a topic about which I am extremely passionate: Diversity and Inclusion. Within four days, I was able to exchange ideas, questions, practices, etc. on a global scale. It was truly a memorable experience that I will never forget.

What was the most surprising thing about B-school?

Fun fact about yourself: I won a tater-tot eating contest at Bar Louie in Chicago, IL by eating slightly over 3 pounds in six minutes.

Favorite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Favorite movie: Lean on Me, Warner Bros. Entertainment

Favorite musical performer: Stevie Wonder

Favorite television show: A Different World, NBC TV Network

Favorite vacation spot: Sydney, Australia. I grew up by the beach and Bondi Beach is simply amazing. Additionally, I love the energy and culture of the city. Lastly, I have had some of the most enlightening conversations in my life while visiting Sidney.

What are your hobbies?  I enjoy all types of music, but my favorites are R&B and reggae. I love to listen to music, whether live or in the comfort of my house to relax. I also love playing basketball. It is a great way to work out and release stress. Lastly, I enjoy volunteering as I always learn a lot about others and myself.

Twitter Handle: @kareeme06

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

“Kareem is the kind of student I will never forget and one who has inspired me. His involvement at Ross is certainly something that makes him stand out. He is a committed leader who is highly collaborative and respected by the faculty, staff, and his peers. He was elected by his peers to be the President of the Black Business Student Association (BBSA), which is one of Ross’ most established and active student-run organizations. This role involves leading and managing an executive board of over 15 fellow students, which requires the ability to listen to multiple constituents, build consensus, and set a vision for the organization. Kareem has an excellent reputation among the BBSA leadership and membership for being a thought leader with a high level of integrity and commitment. As BBSA President, Kareem led efforts to increase collaboration with other student-run organizations at Ross. He came together with Michigan Business Women to create and execute an event on diversity and inclusion in organizations, bringing several high-level executives to campus from Morgan Stanley, Google, and Kraft. He is also one of the founders of the Manbassadors program, a joint effort with Michigan Business Women, to “enable all members of the Ross family to realize their potential as advocates of gender equality at Ross and beyond.” These efforts require a true leader like Kareem who has excellent judgment and is committed to making lasting change both at Ross and beyond.

Kareem also helped lead the efforts of Black Lives Matter at Ross. It can be easy for people to be passionate about things, but putting them into action like Kareem has done takes courage, tenacity, maturity, sensitivity, and drive.  Kareem has the patience and insight to see things from all sides and to be thoughtful about how to proceed.  He has made Ross a better place and set a strong foundation for important dialogues to continue.” – Heather Byrne, Managing Director, MBA Program


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