2016 Best MBAs: John Petersen, Ohio State Fisher

John Petersen Ohio State

John Petersen


The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

“He is unafraid, and always ready to tackle complex problems. I am immensely proud of our veterans in the MBA program at Fisher, and John is a poster child for what our veterans are capable of – bravely working on important problems that others find daunting.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Undergraduate School and Degree: BSBA Business Administration, Finance

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? US Army as a Company Commander

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Partners for Care in Nairobi, Kenya

Where will you be working after graduation? Partners for Care in Nairobi, Kenya I’d want to go back to Africa to work with an NGO again.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Russ Klein MBA internal case competition best presenter award, LSS volunteer, GAP Program 2nd year coach, and leader of more group projects than I can count.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Definitely working in Africa. The opportunity to go to Kenya for an MBA project and then spend my summer there was the most rewarding thing I have done at Fisher. It wasn’t just exciting, I also got to meet so many new people and make a lot of friends. I even had my own intern while I was there! It really filled me with a lot of pride to see the work she did after I would give her a project.  Hearing that she got hired on as a full time employee was the most exciting news I’ve gotten during the program.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Designing the culminating training/validation event for deploying reserve component movement control teams when I was in the Army. This project was way outside my comfort zone and usual line of work, and I also got to lead a very dedicated team through the process. Hearing the praise deploying units had for the exercise I designed made all the headaches and struggle worth it in the end.

Favorite MBA Courses? Risk and Simulation, data analysis, logistics management, and global sourcing (with an honorable mention for the core marketing class taught by Professor Shashi Matta).

Why did you choose this business school? After seven years in the army, I wanted to be close to family again and Fisher has always received high praise as a military-friendly school. Those two facts coupled with the great experience I had as an undergrad made it an easy choice for me.

What did you enjoy most about business school? While I always enjoy learning new things, the best part of business school has been meeting new people. It’s always interesting to hear about somebody’s background or find out that they worked overseas in a city you want to visit.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Coming in, I had this misguided assumption that my peers with civilian backgrounds wouldn’t have a lot of leadership experience. Naturally it didn’t take long for some of my classmates to prove me wrong and I’ve been blown away by them. There is this proactive attitude that almost everyone seems to have and there is never any hesitation to tackle a challenge.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Don’t just think about where you want to work or what industry you want to be in. Take some time to think about what your learning goals are and what you really get excited about. Have a plan for taking classes to help you meet those goals and make the time for things you’re passionate about. There are so many opportunities for learning at Fisher: Be ready to snatch as many as you can.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…my godmother told me stories about being a consultant and running a leadership program for BP. She made me realize business isn’t just about Wall Street and the market; it’s about leadership, people, and solving problems.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wandering around Africa or hiking in Nepal.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire My godmother, Mary Zingale. She started her own consulting business when I was a kid and she made it all look so easy. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood all the false starts, doubts, and misgivings she had. I think that knowledge just makes me admire her that much more.

What are your long-term professional goals? I want to be the expert people turn to when they have a complicated problem.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom has always been there to push me into trying new things and to tell me to have patience when I fail.

Fun fact about yourself: Despite seven years in the Army and a childhood of falling down hills and out of trees I’ve never broken a single bone. I take this as a sign that I should keep taking risks!

Favorite book: Anything by Patrick O’brian.  His first novel, Testimonies, is especially good.

Favorite movie: The Sand Pebbles

Favorite musical performer: Metric

Favorite television show: Game of Thrones

Favorite vacation spot: Rome, I still remember my first trip there when I was nine.

Hobbies? Military history and working out though I’ve recently gotten into foil fencing…….which I enjoy despite getting beaten all the time.

What made John such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“As an educator, very few moments are more gratifying than when you see a student discover their true passion. John, a veteran returning to pursue his MBA at Fisher, not only found his passion during the MBA program, but pursued it relentlessly and successfully. Military tough, with a heart of gold, John thrived during Fisher’s Global Applied Project  (GAP) in Kenya. He was so moved and inspired by his three-week experience on that project, that he stayed back and spent his summer working with the NGO that provided the GAP assignment. John is a passionate problem solver, and this setting brought the best out of him. He is unafraid, and always ready to tackle complex problems. I am immensely proud of our veterans in the MBA program at Fisher, and John is a poster child for what our veterans are capable of – bravely working on important problems that others find daunting.” — Shashi Matta, Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing, and Director of MBA Programs, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University


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