2016 Best MBAs: Lexie Cegelski, Florida Warrington

Lexie Cegelski

Lexie Cegelski


University of Florida, Warrington College of Business

“Take every opportunity seriously, from interview choices to experiential learning. No matter where you get your MBA, there will be boundless opportunities for professional development…and I learned that the opportunities that you choose to take and experience will define and shape your network and career path.”

Age: 24

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Education: University of Florida, BS in Chemical Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Kraft Foods Group as a Packaging Engineering Co-operative Intern.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Anheuser Busch In-Bev, St. Louis, MO

Where will you be working after graduation? Anheuser Busch In-Bev’s Procurement team as a Global MBA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

MBA Association President (2015-2016)

MBA Association Vice President of Internal Affairs (2014-2015)

Graduate Business Career Services Student Career Coach (2015-2016)

MBA Admissions Ambassador (2014-2016)

Hough Graduate School of Business Teaching Committee Chair (2015-2016)

First Place FICC Case Competition Team Member (2016)

First Place Katz Case Competition Team Member (2015, 2016)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I created an Active Membership program for the UF MBA Association immediately upon my election to President last year. With our small class sizes, meetings for our 11 clubs and social events are particularly sensitive to RSVP quantity, and I wanted to establish an incentive system to keep involvement at the top of the student priority list. This year, we will be able to recognize our first 40 Active Members with a medal keepsake to wear at graduation. Seeing the students get rewarded for involvement is empowering as a leader and kept my teams motivated to create amazing progrmaming. I am very proud of this initiative and my entire team for successful implementation the first year of its existence.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  Winning the 2016 Katz Invitational Case Competition sponsored by Direct Energy is my proudest professional moment. I was part of a team that competed in the competition in 2015 where we did not succeed in bringing home the trophy. With a goal to come out on top the following year, my team returned to Pittsburgh with a strategy that focused on customer centricity and corporate social responsibility. By moving the needle, we impressed the judges and brought home the win (and a large check!). This was an incredible experiential learning opportunity, and it was rewarding to work with my amazing team which included expertise from Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America, and UF’s Levin College of Law. We were extremely honored and proud of the recognition for our analysis and presentation skills.

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Richard Lutz – I truly believe he goes above and beyond the classroom. He does his best to learn more about his students and their preferences which creates an enjoyable & innovative in-class experience within the Marketing Department at the University of Florida.

Favorite MBA Courses? Building & Managing Brand Equity (Dr. Lutz), Art & Science of Negotiation (Dr. Wheeler-Smith), and Developing Leadership Skills (Dr. Podsakoff)

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to make a career change from engineering – the full scholarship opportunity at UF MBA combined with the career team’s placement success consequently stood out as a major advantage. I was honored to be one of two Engineering Partnership students for my class. This allowed me to begin the program immediately following my undergraduate degree.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I enjoyed developing my network and learning from accomplished peers in this program and in my internship. From former brand managers, to English teachers in Japan, to Hollywood screenwriters, and Survivor contestants, I absolutely love that business school brings together a wide range of people to learn together and from each other. My case competition team and MBA Association Board were incredibly influential in my MBA experience. The knowledge and insight on behavior and professionalism that I gained from these groups will be invaluable in my future. I enjoyed making these connections, and know that my business school network will continue to positively impact me after graduation.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was not expecting the overwhelming support that peers at UF MBA provided one another, and the magnitude at which that support strengthened our network. I assume it is similar in other schools, but I was blown away by how MBA students had my back, and I had theirs – from studying for interviews, to re-teaching complex material, to participating as career coaches to first year students. The nature of our small program (35 full-time 2nd years) allows us to understand the intricacies of each individual in the program, and creates a camaraderie that dampens competitive nature of the typical MBA. I know I can go to anyone in my program, as well as alumni, and they will support me with anything I need.

What was the hardest part of business school? The most challenging part of business school is looking past the classes to set yourself up for long term success. It’s having the motivation to get that perfect internship, that once-in-a-lifetime interview, that funding for your startup. It’s what you do to set yourself up for success AFTER you graduate, and the earlier and more motivated you are, the more successful you will be.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself – and own what you want in an MBA program. UF will be incredibly transparent with you on their capabilities both academically and professionally, and the more you are clear on your goals, the more we can identify gaps in matching you to our program, and vice versa. On top of that, come prepared with questions for your student ambassador. They are the ones who really understand the value of the program from your vantage point – and it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t take advantage of the wealth of knowledge they possess.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was a sophomore in undergrad. I didn’t feel that I was learning practical business skills in my engineering curriculum, and working in R&D didn’t give me the opportunity to make as large of an impact as I knew I could.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…probably be working in the oil industry in Texas – and would most likely be applying for a business degree considering how oil prices have plummeted in the past year.”

What are your long-term professional goals? My ultimate career goal is to be an executive of a company with a background in several different functional areas. I would also like to successfully open and run a business in hospitality when I retire from the corporate world.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I definitely have to thank my parents for my success. They have always pushed me to challenge myself and to take myself out of my comfort zone. Without their encouragement, I would never have swam, played an instrument, or enrolled in Engineering – some of the most defining moments of my life when I was younger.

Fun fact about yourself: I was born on Leap Day, and celebrated my 6th birthday this year!

Favorite book: It is hard to choose, but I currently love The Martian by Andy Wehr

Favorite movie: The Avengers – and all superhero movies

Favorite musical performer: Zac Brown Band

Favorite television show: NCIS

Favorite vacation spot: Easter Island

Hobbies? Video Editing, Reading, Baking, Swimming, & Playing Bassoon

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

“At UF MBA students are empowered to take ownership of their experience through involvement. There have been few UF MBAs who have taken this opportunity as thoroughly to heart as Lexie Cegelski. Within weeks of beginning the program, Lexie was selected by 2nd year MBAs and staff to act as the Vice President of our MBA Association with the responsibility of creating and delivering programming to promote a cohesive student body. Lexie excelled in this role from day one – and much of her accomplishment was achieved through successfully influencing others and effectively delegating. Subsequently, Lexie was elected by her peers as the President of the MBA Association. In her role, she continued successfully empowering and inspiring other leaders to achieve more through her “Active Membership” program. Today, we are proud that almost all of our students are involved in at least one aspect of student-driven programming and more than 60% of our graduates are earning a distinction for being highly involved.

Another area where Lexie made an impact has been her successful engagement as a member of UF case competition teams. In Lexie’s first year, she auditioned for three case competitions where her team placed 2nd and was not selected to advance. Lexie was undeterred from these setbacks and used them as learning experiences. This perseverance paid tremendous dividends (literally) as she and her team have won spots to represent the University of Florida at two competitions where they placed first and have earned a total of $20,000. Lexie’s performance highlighted UF’s excellence in preparing students to apply lessons learned in the classroom to actual business challenges.” — Kara Cupoli, Senior Director of Full-time Student Affairs and MBA Engagement, University of Florida, Warrington College of Business


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