2016 Best MBAs: Caitlin Fross, University of North Carolina

Caitlin Fross UNC

Caitlin Fross

 
University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“I’d like to run an organization, either a consulting firm or a large foundation, focused on international development.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Concord, Mass.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Dual-degree student at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, MSPH expected May 2016

Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, BSFS 2011

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Deloitte Consulting LLP, Federal Strategy and Operations Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? McKinsey & Company, Atlanta Office

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Nonprofit Board Fellow; VP External Outreach, Carolina Women in Business; VP Learning & Development, Consulting Club; Career Mentor; Forté Fellow and Ambassador; Dean’s Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Last year I volunteered as a Nonprofit Board Fellow. I asked to work with a client who was offering health insurance premium subsidies to the lower income residents of Durham County. The client was struggling – residents of Durham County were not enrolling in the program despite the fact that more than 10,000 people were eligible for the subsidies. This meant that many county residents were uninsured. I met with stakeholders throughout the Triangle to identify barriers to access, and develop recommendations to alleviate them. I am most proud of this work because it enabled me to leverage my background in consulting to help individuals and families without health insurance get coverage.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my second year at Deloitte, I found myself sitting in an office at the Ministry of Health in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, helping to translate a meeting between a ministry official and two partners from Deloitte. Our team was there to discuss an infrastructure project – part of the rebuilding effort post-earthquake. Wwe were facing a language barrier, so I helped facilitate the discussion between both parties by translating the discussion from French to English.

I am most proud of this achievement because of everything it took to get me there. From the moment I joined Deloitte, I knew that I wanted to work on the Global Health Team, but it took almost a year of determination and hard work to make it happen. Once on the team, I volunteered to travel to Haiti, to work on post-earthquake health and infrastructure projects. I had majored in global health as an undergraduate student and studied French for many years. To actually in the middle of everything I had been pursuing for so long – discussing the nuances of rebuilding a nation after a natural disaster – and knowing what it had taken to get me there, made it the highlight of my professional career to date.

Favorite MBA Courses? Strategy, Sales, Design & Delivery of Healthcare Systems

Why did you choose this business school? I chose UNC Kenan-Flagler for three reasons: the action-based curriculum, global learning opportunities, and strong sense of community. It was important to me to choose a business school that offered practical, hands-on learning experiences. UNC Kenan-Flagler offered me the opportunity to take what I had learned in the classroom and implement it in the real world, through programs such as Nonprofit Board Fellows and the Dean’s Fellows Project. I also valued UNC Kenan-Flagler’s wide range of global opportunities. While at business school, I have been able to study sustainability in Copenhagen and to enroll at a business school in Bangkok. These experiences widened my understanding of the business world and have been an invaluable part of my business school education. But perhaps most important to me was sense of community. UNC Kenan-Flagler students are invested in their education, and in improving the school for themselves and for their classmates. The level of engagement from the study body is unlike anything I’ve experienced before, and was ultimately the deciding factor for me.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Getting to know my classmates has been the highlight of my business school experience. UNC Kenan-Flagler attracts a diverse, talented and engaged student body and I have loved learning from them these past two years. I have an incredible amount of respect and admiration for the community at UNC Kenan-Flagler and feel incredibly fortunate to be part of it.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Talented leadership is the most important factor in determining the success or failure of a business.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The most surprising thing about business school was the diversity of past experience among my fellow classmates. I entered business school expecting a majority of my classmates to have come from traditional business backgrounds, but instead I’ve found that many people come to business school looking to change careers. My study team was made up of a former government employee, an entrepreneur, an IT expert, a retail manager, and a strategy consultant. I was surprised by our ability to productively challenge each other, and push each other to approach our work from multiple perspectives.

What was the hardest part of business school? Managing competing priorities is one of the hardest parts of business school. That’s especially true in your first year, when academics, recruiting and extracurricular activities compete for your time. It can be challenging to figure out where to focus your attention.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? If an MBA will help you achieve your dream career, definitely apply. Business school is an incredibly rewarding experience. Once you’re in the application process, I’d recommend visiting campus and reaching out to current students to get their perspective on the school. It’s a great way to understand the campus culture and determine whether UNC Kenan-Flagler is right for you.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw that global health problems might have business solutions and realized an MBA would be a good compliment to an MSPH.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in the nonprofit sector and living in the developing world.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I’d like to run an organization, either a consulting firm or a large foundation, focused on international development.”

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d most want to thank my family for my success. Their unwavering support has empowered me to pursue my goals. I often look to them for advice and perspective and would not be where I am today without them.

Fun fact about yourself: In 2014 I ran the Boston Marathon with my siblings. We were living all across the country at the time, but we trained together, and even met up in Seattle for our first 20-mile run.

Favorite book: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Favorite movie: It’s Complicated

Favorite musical performer: Darius Rucker

Favorite television show: West Wing

Favorite vacation spot: Adirondack Mountains

Hobbies? I love being active – running, playing soccer, practicing yoga – traveling, reading a good book, and spending quality time with family and friends.

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

“Excellence is one of our core values. Specifically, it means “We strive for the very highest standards in everything that we do both within and out of the classroom.” Caitlin Fross truly exemplifies this core value – everything she takes on is done to the very best of her ability. Academically, she is top of her class both at UNC Kenan-Flagler and at the UNC Gillings School for Global Public Health, where she is earning master’s degrees in both schools.

Even though Caitlin is a dual-degree student, she found the time to excel in a number of extracurricular leadership roles. She served as project leader for a Dean’s Fellow project, focused on updating cases used in the core curriculum to better reflect the contemporary workforce. Caitlin also served on the board of the United Way of the Greater Triangle as part of the Nonprofit Board Consultants Program. The nonprofit organization benefited from Caitlin’s business leadership and new insights.

Caitlin has worked tirelessly as a leader in the Carolina Women in Business and by partnering with the Admissions and Student Services offices to coordinate events for women geared at highlighting the benefits of pursuing a business career and completing an MBA Program. Specifically, she assembled and moderated panels for Forte, UNC Kenan-Flagler Women’s Workshop, Fellows Visit, and Next Generation Female Leaders. The first three panels focused on women interested in pursuing MBAs, while the latter event was for female high school students considering majoring in business and pursuing some aspect of business as a career. She achieved our goals for the panels: show the range of options available in business and to profile women who were extremely successful in what they decided to pursue.” — Sridhar Balasubramanian (Dr. B), Associate Dean of the MBA Program, University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING MBAS