Meet Notre Dame’s MBA Class of 2017

Benjamin Kingdon

Benjamin Kingdon

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Winnipeg – Marketing

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Giraffe Marketing, CEO

High Road Property Services, Project Manager

ChangeMakers, Client Service Manager

Recalling your own experience, what advice do you have for applicants who are preparing for either the GMAT or the GRE? Quality over quantity and mental flexibility over mass panic.

Quantity can quickly become your enemy. I relentlessly slogged though practice question after practice question, which was a truly inefficient use of time. Spend your time understanding concepts and use the practice questions to confirm that understanding. You’ll master sections faster and be able to maximize the coveted practice questions from the Official Guides.

There will be a time during the test when you’ll want to panic. This test is designed to make you reach your breaking point. Take a little comfort in that fact. Mental flexibility, along with your ability to implement a strategy and then adapt, will enable you to master the higher level questions. I coached myself to revel in the moments of difficulty. The more difficult the question, the better you are doing, or at least that is what I told myself. Then again, I was also one of those strange people who inhaled power bars while doing jumping jacks during the breaks.

Based on your own selection process, what advice do you have for applicants who are trying to draw up a list of target schools to which to apply? I started not with what school I wanted to go to, but with what I wanted out of my career and my life. Professionally, you want to ensure the schools you choose have the relationships and the ability to help you make the necessary connections with your desired employers. However, the school, faculty, and students will be your world for the next one to two years. Learn which schools parallel your own values. Work your way backwards from what you want out of an MBA to the school itself. The path that this method created helped me narrow down my overwhelmingly large list of potential schools. I had several offers from great programs, but the right school for me was Notre Dame. Each day I spend here, I am reaffirmed that I made the correct decision.

What advice do you have for applicants in actually applying to a school, writing essays, doing admission interviews, and getting recommenders to write letters on your behalf? The most important step before applying to an MBA program is to understand who you are, who you want to be, and how your MBA will help you get there.

The essay is a chance to go beyond numerical values and to embrace your inner poet. The standard essay approach is to describe personal and professional accomplishments. While universities want their candidates to have impressive backgrounds, they also want to know what they plan to do with this coveted education. I chose to write my essay from a future perspective, working my way backwards to the initial steps of my journey. This strategy helped reveal not only my current self, but also my future self.

You have limited time and limited contact with admission teams. Each recommendation letter is an opportunity to add another dimension to your application. Choose people who have experienced different sides of you.

Enjoy the admission interviews and embrace the challenge. Present yourself with confidence and remember that you and your story must be sharable. Jerry Maguire says, “Help me, help you.” Help your interviewer be able to communicate your value to the other members of the admissions team. Be clear, be concise, and be sincere.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I began with Stephen Covey’s strategy of starting with the end in mind. I knew I wanted to transition into the consulting industry and I understood that my passions were competing, winning, and problem-solving. However, I believe in the power of business as a force for good and a source for sustainable change. When I researched programs I learned about Notre Dame’s tradition of competition, winning, and academic excellence. In addition, I learned about its guiding principle, “Ask More of Business,” which paralleled my own values of success and serving the community. The final confirmation of my choice was Notre Dame’s alumni network. It is a family. It is a resource. And it will be a constant throughout my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have found the right school for me and I urge future applicants to start with their own end in mind before creating their list of schools.

What would you ultimately like to achieve before you graduate? My goal is to obtain a job in the consulting industry before graduating. This goal is the culmination of many years of sacrifice and dedication and will enable me to carry forward my values of success and business as a force for good. I hope to be able to pass my values on to future Notre Dame candidates and to the many communities I am now proud to call home.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.