2016 Best MBAs: Dustin Rohrer, Vanderbilt

Dustin Rohrer Vanderbilt

Dustin Rohrer

 
Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management         

“After his internship [with Bain], he has spent this past year working tirelessly helping his classmates prepare for the recruiting process. He has taken the reigns in the Owen Consulting Club to lead the case interviewing preparation. He also initiated a case certificate program, encouraging the first year students to practice and develop their skills to a greater level than they would have otherwise…Because of his efforts, many students have performed much better in their interviews, which I know have led to more first year offers in consulting than we have ever had. And, more importantly, he has made sure that this program is sustainable.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

Education:

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – B.A. in Music

Manhattan School of Music – Master of Music

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Freelance drummer and recording studio owner

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Bain & Company – Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company – Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Ingram Scholarship

Owen Admissions Ambassador

Owen Consulting Club – VP of Development

Christian Business Association – VP of Finance

Beta Gamma Sigma honors society member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? This year, I started a Case Certification Program through the Owen Consulting Club. Several other consulting clubs do something similar, and I felt it would be a good way to help first-year students prepare for consulting interviews. I developed a curriculum, trained first-year case givers, and brought in consulting alumni from different firms for a final day of mock case interviews. The program was rigorous, but we got some great feedback and saw measurable results. Participants in the certification program found themselves more prepared going into first round consulting interviews, and they landed opportunities at BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte and several other firms. It was gratifying to work with the Consulting Club to put this program together, and to see first-years grow in their confidence and abilities.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I founded and operated a recording studio business in Nashville for three years before coming to Vanderbilt. Though it was a challenging experience, I enjoyed developing a client base, hiring other musicians, and building a reputation for my business. I learned a great deal about operating in a service industry and saw immense value in understanding operational, marketing and financial best practices. It also gave me the opportunity to experience the freedoms and frustrations that come with being a small business owner.

Favorite MBA Courses?

Applied Investment Management

Mergers & Acquisitions

Organizational Learning and Effectiveness

Why did you choose this business school? Owen’s small class size and tight-knit community attracted me to the school. As someone with an unconventional background, I also wanted a school with a strong career management center that could guide me in my unique search for the right job. I hit the jackpot with Owen’s CMC, which challenged and encouraged me in every step of my job search. In fact, I only applied to Bain after being encouraged to do so by our CMC director, Emily Anderson.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Throughout the past two years, I have enjoyed the opportunity to work on difficult problems in teams. I have worked with some great groups across all of my classes at Owen, and I always come away with a deeper understanding of something after hearing someone else’s perspective, or having my own answers pressure-tested.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? It is important to be honest and unapologetic about who you are and your past experience. There are transferable skills I developed in my career as a professional musician that are useful in my work as a consultant. It is equally important to follow this honesty with hard work and a commitment to team success. Some of my role models are the most collaborative people I know.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? It is the variety of backgrounds of my classmates. My closest friends include a professional horse trainer, a biomedical engineer, a private wealth manager for musicians, and a retired army officer.

What was the hardest part of business school? Overall time management was a challenge. I enjoy getting into the nuanced details of whatever I am studying, and there is not time to do that when juggling a hectic MBA schedule. I learned a great deal about prioritizing the most important aspects of my studies and better managing my time in the first year of my MBA. I carried this skill into my internship, where an 80/20 focus and good time management are essential aspects of the job.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Get to know the school through the application process. Owen is a very different MBA experience from some of the larger top-20 business schools. Much of the work here is extremely collaborative, and the small class size gives you the experience of being part of a big family. In addition, take time to think through what you want out of the MBA experience, and practice communicating that effectively. When you get here, be flexible and open to new opportunities and career paths.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when……I discovered a love for finance and statistics through online classes. While out on tour, I filled my time by taking several online classes. My favorites were finance and statistics. Though I had been exposed to both subjects earlier in life, I found a new appreciation for the usefulness of each. These two disciplines provided frameworks for explaining and evaluating much of the world around me.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still touring and recording music as a drummer.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Two of my current role models are Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Bain & Company Chairman Orit Gadiesh. Ben Bernanke made an impressive transition from well-respected academic economist to the world’s most influential monetary policy official. He used his deep understanding of monetary policy in the Great Depression to make some tough decisions in the recent Global Financial Crisis. Orit Gadiesh has imbued Bain & Company with the understanding that good questions lead to impactful results. In addition, under her leadership Bain has stayed focused on True North in its client engagements.

What are your long-term professional goals? As a life-long learner, my goal is to always do work that challenges me to learn new things. I had the chance to work with a Nashville venture capital firm last year, and would love to do more work in venture capital or private equity. I also have a desire to impact what I believe is a broken education system in the US. Finally, I have a lingering dream to go back to school and get a PhD in Economics.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife, Lisa, deserves a lot of credit for my success. She has been a strong and encouraging force in my life since high school. As we were making the decision to transition out of the music industry and apply to MBA programs, she showed unwavering confidence that I was on the right track. As I applied to and interviewed at some of the top consulting firms, she never doubted that I could find a company where I was valued not in spite of my past experience, but because of it.

Fun fact about yourself: I have played drums for 4 different American Idol contestants.

Favorite book: Two recent favorites: All the Light We Cannot See and The Fabric of the Cosmos

Favorite movie: Interstellar

Favorite musical performer: Miles Davis’ second quintet (1964-69)

Favorite television show: The West Wing

Favorite vacation spot: Carolina beach

Hobbies? Much of my time over the past four months has been devoted to studying for the CFA Level 1 exam which I plan to take in June. Aside from that, I enjoy learning new things. My current hobby is theoretical physics. Over the past year, I have been reading everything I can find that relates to relativity and quantum mechanics. I am fascinated by the ideas of space-time curvature and the quantum entanglement. I also enjoy playing backyard baseball with my two kids (ages 6 and 4) and watching UNC basketball with my family.

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

“Dustin has been an absolute delight to work with throughout his two years at Owen. Before I met him, I had reviewed his resume and was quite honestly wondering how I was going to be able to help him as I anticipated that he was using the MBA experience to move from performing into what I assumed would be work in the music industry in Nashville (which often does not seek out MBA talent). When I did meet him very early in his first year, I was especially delighted to discover he is very smart, very mature, and incredibly curious. Dustin is a very engaging and positive person, with a very authentic presence. He seems very comfortable with a small group as well as in front of an audience, which I assume he mastered in his years of performing. And he just seemed to be soaking up every aspect of the MBA experience. He was ready to explore all sorts of business career paths. After several conversations, it became evident that he had the intellectual capability, the drive, the professional presence and the demeanor that consulting firms look for. To me he was a gem that these firms are just waiting to discover in the crowded MBA talent pool.

Dustin was not timid about seeking guidance and advice from faculty, staff and his peers on how to begin the process of recruiting. I do not believe he had ever done a case interview before coming to Owen, but he approached the challenge with gusto. He was very successful in his recruiting his first year and landed in a top strategy consulting firm. After his internship, he has spent this past year working tirelessly helping his classmates prepare for the recruiting process. He is an active member in several clubs, and has taken the reigns in the Owen Consulting Club to lead the case interviewing preparation. He also initiated a case certificate program, encouraging the first year students to practice and develop their skills to a greater level than they would have otherwise. He was responsible for inviting several alumni back to campus this fall to help students practice their case interviews and critique their performance. This was the culmination of the case interviewing certificate program. Because of his efforts, many students have performed much better in their interviews, which I know have led to more first year offers in consulting than we have ever had. And, more importantly, he has made sure that this program is sustainable. The new Owen Consulting Club leadership is already planning for the program for next fall. Dustin is one of the students who make a long lasting impression on the school, faculty, staff and fellow students. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to work with him while he has attended Owen.” — Emily Anderson, Director of Owen Career Management Center, Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

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