2016 Best MBAs: Brian Kirk, MIT Sloan

Brian Kirk MIT

Brian Kirk


MIT, Sloan School of Management

“Business school gave me a new medium to discover myself, reassess my personal and professional priorities, and really push myself to do more…I feel as though MIT Sloan has helped me lay another brick in my road of self-discovery every day.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Jamison, Pennsylvania

Education: B.S. Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University; Class of 2009

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Submarine Warfare Officer, USS Louisville (SSN-724), United States Navy

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Parthenon-EY; Boston, MA

Where will you be working after graduation? Hive Maritime, Inc.; CEO

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MIT Sloan Veterans Association Co-president
  • MIT Veterans Club President
  • Admissions ambassador
  • First Year orientation pilot

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m exceptionally proud of the progress my team and I have made developing our startup, Hive Maritime, into a promising new business. All of the cofounders had just come from the military – we had zero experience starting or operating a business. We’ve worked very hard to develop and get our idea off the ground, and I’m really thrilled with our progress.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Earning my submarine officer qualifications in the US Navy is, and will likely remain, the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my professional life. It took me nearly 3 years from the time I entered the Navy to complete the rigorous training cycle, become a skilled operator of the ship’s nuclear reactor, learn to drive the boat on the ocean’s surface and at depth, and understand all the systems, valves, procedures and people that enable such a complicated piece of equipment to operate. Being pinned with the coveted ‘gold dolphins’ of the elite submarine service is a badge of honor and something I will never forget.

Favorite MBA Courses? Competitive Strategy, Game Theory, Entrepreneurial Sales

Why did you choose this business school? My wife and I were both looking to go to schools at the same time and, after a significant amount of time apart and a lot of time away from home in the service, we prioritized being in the same city. Boston offered both of us great academic options, and MIT, in particular, sold me on their entrepreneurial spirit, truly unique class culture and dynamics, and their intrinsic link between business and my technical background. I feel very privileged to be a part of such a stellar group of individuals and an even more impressive collective; I smile every morning when I put my Grad Rat class ring on!

What did you enjoy most about business school? Business school gave me a new medium to discover myself, reassess my personal and professional priorities, and really push myself to do more. I’ve always been a relatively driven and ambitious person, but business school developed by personal and professional skills, and boosted my confidence to the point where I realized that I could really have long lasting and widespread impact. I feel as though MIT Sloan has helped me lay another brick in my road of self-discovery every day, and that is certainly what I have enjoyed most about my experience.

What was the hardest part of business school? The transition from military to civilian life was abrupt. I went from a submarine of 150 mostly introverted people to a banquet hall during my class orientation with 400 bubbly extroverts with interesting stories and ambitions, all of whom seemingly always wanted to chat. It was a lot to take in and was pretty overwhelming. It took some time to readjust and feel at home in that environment.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Talk to students before you apply. Everybody in the class will respond to a cold email from a prospective; willingness to help is in our blood. MIT Sloan is a truly unique place and a highly collaborative environment, and it is not for everybody. Understanding our student body and our culture will help you determine if it is the right fit for you and help you to tailor your admissions essays once you learn what we’re all about.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was working on Thermodynamics homework set in my junior year of undergrad. Although engineering was interesting, I knew then that I wanted to manage and lead teams, not just sit at a desk and crunch numbers.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…500 feet under the surface of the Pacific Ocean.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I’m passionate about bringing disruptive technology to archaic industries.  My cofounders at Hive Maritime and I have a profound vision for the future of autonomous oceanic shipping, and I want to be at the heart of using technology to revolutionize how this industry operates.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d like to thank my parents, first and foremost. They’ve given me their unending support, pushed me to work hard and do my best in all I do in life. They worked hard to provide me with a solid educational base and an understanding of world culture. And tey made sure that I appreciated the simple things in life. They have believed in me every day of my life, told me that I could when others said that I could not, and pushed me to find and perform at my limits. For this, I am eternally grateful. I would not be where I am, or the man that I have become, without them. I’d also like to thank my submarine brothers from the USS Louisville. We made it through some very tough, exceptionally stressful situations together and learned a lot about ourselves along the way. When times got tough, they believed in my abilities even when I doubted, and supported me as coworkers, friends, and brothers. Hooyah.

Fun fact about yourself: I used to make my own surfboards in high school.

Favorite book: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Favorite movie: Casino Royale

Favorite musical performer: Taylor Swift (and I’m not remotely embarrassed by this fact either)

Favorite television show: House of Cards

Favorite vacation spot: South island of New Zealand

Hobbies? Skiing deep powder, triathlon, hiking, surfing, travelling fitness, and general adventuring

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

“When Brian Kirk was on active military duty as a US Naval submariner, he noticed that cargo ships were often stalled in their journeys for days at the major canals.  When he arrived at MIT Sloan in 2014, he partnered with classmates to create Hive Maritime. Hive Maritime uses a predictive analytics and optimization platform to streamline transportation in the maritime shipping industry, addressing an issue that costs billions in fuel, demurrage and other operational expenses annually.

Brian majored in Mechanical Engineering at Penn State and spent 5 years as a Submarine Warfare Officer in the Navy before joining MIT Sloan in 2015.”

Maura Herson

Director, MBA & MSMS Programs Office

MIT, Sloan School of Management


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