2016 Best MBAs: Kyle Wehr, University of Iowa

Kyle Wehr Iowa

Kyle Wehr


University of Iowa, Tippie School of Management

“The most precious commodity for graduate students is their time. Kyle is giving of his time and attention to helping others succeed even when he has other pressing business at hand. This has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers.  Additionally, staff and faculty voted him the 2015 Excellence in Leadership award winner. In a program of high-achievers, particularly within his class, he was identified as a stand-out.”

Age: 25

Hometown: Moline, IL


St. Ambrose University

Bachelors of Arts, Management

Davenport, IA

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Junior Achievement of the Heartland

Development Director

Moline, IL

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015?

Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Hallmark National Chain Drug team

Kansas City, MO

Where will you be working after graduation? I am still searching for the right opportunity. I want to align myself with an organization that improves quality of life while operating with strong ethics and values similar to those that I hold.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • 2015 Excellence in Leadership Award
  • Young Professionals of Iowa Board of Directors, January 2014 – Present
  • Business Solutions Center Project Leader
  • 2nd-Year Career Coach
  • 2nd place in the 2015 Rutgers Ten Plus Supply Chain Case Competition
  • Graduate College Grant Review Committee, 2014-15 School Year
  • Presented eight (8) Junior Achievement programs for a total of about 35 hours
  • Graduate Assistant with Career Services
  • Tippie TeamUp Mentor
  • Asked to speak on behalf of the Full-Time MBA program at the Iowa City Rotary
  • Asked to assist Admissions with a handful of prospective lunches and conversations
  • Served as captain of the MBA, intermural softball team during the spring of 2015

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Receiving the 2015 Excellence in Leadership Award was a very humbling experience, but presenting eight Junior Achievement programs while in business school is the achievement that I am most proud of completing. Many people that I interact with, regardless of age, education level, socioeconomic background, etc, struggle with an effective understanding of personal finance. Our public schools are failing when it comes to providing students with these basic life skills, which is why I believe the programs Junior Achievement provides are so critical, Being able to effectively expose these life skills to more than 145 students during the last 21 months has been an absolute pleasure for me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievements that I’m most proud of are those that improved organizations. Stepping into roles and increasing the organization’s sales or fundraising by 35% and 41% year-over-year, as I did with the DuPage Hounds and Junior Achievement meant a lot to me. Being able to improve an organization in a different way during the MBA program, as we did with Hillphoenix – Specialty Division through a 58% improvement in their quote turnaround time, meant a lot as well. Everyone wants to know that they are adding value. At the end of the day, these achievements do that for me. I hope the team that I am currently leading is able to do the same for the Urology Clinic at The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC).

Who is your favorite professor? The MBA experience is influenced by so many more people than just professors. There are incredible professors at Iowa, if I’m forced to choose one I’d pick Barry Thomas though. Dr. Thomas taught Operations Management and Data Programming with R. I use the process improvement concepts almost on a daily basis and he is a very personable professor. Jennifer Blackhurst, Faculty Director of the Business Analytics Academy and professor, is my favorite administrator and Cindy Meis, Associate Director of Career Services, is my favorite staff member. Both of them influenced my experience pretty heavily.

Favorite MBA Courses? Beyond the consulting courses, I really enjoyed Operations Management, Advanced Analytics, and Corporate Financing & Investment Decisions.

Why did you choose this business school? I made the decision to obtain an MBA about six (6) years ago, while still in the middle of completing my Management degree at St. Ambrose. I’ve always been on the business path. That said though, I did make a conscious decision to focus on Analytics. I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in small business (less than 50 employees). During that time, I noticed that most decision making is done through intuition or shooting from the hip. I realized from this experience that integrating insights from data with the decision making process could lead to better resource allocation.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The consulting projects and opportunities at Tippie are tremendous. During my time here, I’ve been able to improve three organizations (manufacturing, office/service, and healthcare through process improvement projects), develop a valuation tool for an emerging technology in the energy sector, and utilize analytics to prioritize resources for a senior living, healthcare organization. Putting the theory to work while collaborating with classmates and stakeholders has been a very enjoyable part of business school.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school?

  1. Be authentic
  2. If you understand valuation, Iowa is a no brainer. Tremendous education for an incredible cost.
  3. Take advantage of the opportunities you receive
  4. There is no substitute for a strong work ethic; this is Iowa, our ancestors worked on farms for decades.

I knew I wanted to go to business school whenI looked around the minor league sports industry, while completing my undergraduate degree, and saw incredibly low compensation and profitability. I realized that I needed broader exposure to industries and sectors.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…searching for opportunities to expand my knowledge and skillset in some other fashion. I think that it’d be very interesting to complete further study of global economic models throughout history. This type of research could serve well in the development of economic policy. We live in a very interesting time with the central banks around the globe keeping interest rates low to negative and the scope of government continuing to expand.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Specific, long-term goals are hard to develop because they typically never work out the way that you plan. These are very similar to the old phrase “tell God your plans, if you want to see Him laugh.” Therefore, I approach this question with an answer that is related to a way of life. So, my long-term professional goal is to take advantage of opportunities that are placed before me while serving those people around me. I want to develop leaders by providing direction and opportunities to grow, while allowing my mentors to provide the same to me. If I’m able to remanence in retirement about the people that I helped along the way and the opportunities that we took advantage of together, I’d say it was a successful career.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The typical answer to this question would be my parents. I do thank them for my success, but I think a better answer is all the people that gave me leadership opportunities growing up. People such as John Hendricksen, who let me start helping at church when I was 10-years-old; Coach John Turner, who pushed me to be a better baseball catcher and develop a sense of teamwork; Brian Prybil, who asked me to lead homecoming activities and blood drives in high school; and Ryan Simmons, who gave an 18-year-old, high school graduate the opportunity to learn about business and event management from inside a minor league sports organization. My parents instilled values and basic skills in me, and still do, but people such as these men really cultivated my leadership ability. Collectively, I’d like to thank all of them for giving me the opportunity to grow.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m getting married in June to my lovely fiancée, Hillary. She makes my life exponentially better and I’m incredibly excited to build a life with her.

Favorite book: I really enjoyed reading 41: A Portrait of My Father by President George W. Bush. He touched on the fact that his parents, President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, always committed to going beyond halfway during discussions or disagreements. Both of their willingness to go beyond the typical halfway point really helped their relationship throughout the years and I believe that is applicable in any type of relationship. If you are able to listen to the other and are willing to give up your position for a better one, I believe that you’ll be a lot more successful in life than if you continue to hold your position out of pride.

Favorite movie: Movies really are not my thing, but I really enjoyed The Big Short, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and Bridge of Spies within the last year. Older movies that I prefer to re-watch include: The Rookie, Fever Pitch, Vantage Point, and Anchorman.

Favorite musical performer: My fiancée, Hillary, singing and my littlest sister, Carolyn, playing piano. If I had to choose famous performers, I’d pick Zac Brown Band. They do a lot of incredible things on a musical level.

Favorite television show: Honestly, I don’t watch much television. I am a NHL.TV subscriber and watch my favorite team, the Dallas Stars, during my free time. Other than that, I’ll zone out and relax with random television series on Netflix.

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere in Iowa, essentially. I love the great state of Iowa and love exploring the beautiful land and bodies of water. The lack of urban areas is a real joy in my life as it is very peaceful, which makes it easier to experience God’s creation.

Hobbies? Spending time with family. My little sisters are graduating from undergrad (Illinois State) and high school, respectively, this year. Hillary and I made countless trips during the last two years to be around for their events (theatre performances, sporting events, etc.). Fortunately, Hillary is the youngest and all of her family is close to Iowa City, so it isn’t as long of a trip to spend time with them.

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

“Kyle has distinguished himself by seeking out opportunities to expand his knowledge base and leadership skills, demonstrating a strong intellectual curiosity and high level of engagement. Remarkably, he has achieved a 4.01 GPA while finishing the program with 89 credits when only 60 are required—essentially completing an MBA and a half!

The most precious commodity for graduate students is their time. Kyle is giving of his time and attention to helping others succeed even when he has other pressing business at hand. This has earned him the respect and admiration of his peers.  Additionally, staff and faculty voted him the 2015 Excellence in Leadership award winner. In a program of high-achievers, particularly within his class, he was identified as a stand-out.

In both classroom and co-curricular activities, Kyle is the first person to volunteer, always seeking to learn and contribute and providing results that help guide decision making. Kyle has taken on multiple leadership roles inside the MBA Program: he is serving as a second year coach to first year students as they navigate their internship search; he is part of the first TeamUp Tippie Mentoring Program that pairs undergrads with MBAs; he is leading a consulting project team of first years related to patient satisfaction and flow-time within a specific department at UIHC that will result in an improved experience.

Kyle served as the de facto leader of Tippie’s four-person team that competed and placed second in the 2015 Rutger’s Ten Plus Supply Chain Case Competition. This was particularly noteworthy because this was Tippie’s first time participating in this competition and Kyle led a team comprised of two other first-years and one second-year student.

Kyle’s leadership roles also extend beyond the University. He has been on the Young Professionals of Iowa Board of Directors since January 2014, most recently elected to the Executive Committee as Treasurer. He is passionate about volunteering for Junior Achievement and began his sixth program since moving to Iowa City.

Kyle’s decision making is wired to a strong set of core values that blends his passion for social responsibility and improving organizational performance. He puts those beliefs into action and develops creative solutions that balance both.” — Dave Deyak, Assistant Dean, University of Iowa, Tippie School of Management


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