2016 Best MBAs: Rebecca Sholiton, Northwestern Kellogg

Rebecca Sholiton Kellogg

Rebecca Sholiton

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“I am leaving Kellogg with a clearer vision for myself as a professional, a leader and an entrepreneur. I am confident that I have the peer and mentor relationships I will need to keep me accountable to that vision.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Inverness, IL

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Texas at Austin –Finance Honors and History

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

  • Sector 3 Social Venture Group – a consultancy that designs and executes economic development projects for large aid organizations, public and private companies and philanthropies. As a partner at S3SVG, I co-authored and designed a program selected as 1 of 3 projects for the global USAID initiative, Women’s Leadership in Small & Medium Enterprises (WLSME).
  • Goldman Sachs Foundation 10,000 Women Peru – Measurement & Evaluation Lead
  • Deloitte Consulting – Strategy & Operations Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I did growth and operations consulting for a small food startup in Chicago while starting my own business, Pak’d.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working on my start-up, Pak’d. We make fresh, healthy and fun lunches delivered directly to families’ homes. Our Paks are perfect for kids’ school lunches and we offer adult Paks making it possible for the whole family to access a balanced meal, on-the-go.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • Co-President, Women’s Business Association
  • Founder of the Kellogg Women’s Leadership Seminar
  • Selected as a Zell Fellow, 2015-2016
  • Selected as a Forte Fellow
  • Best Impact Investment Winner, MBA Impact Investing Network & Training Program (MIINT) 2015
  • Operations Lead, Women’s Leadership Workshop 2015
  • Director of Education, Brew ‘n Q Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I worked with Dean Blount, Professor Victoria Medvec, and the Women’s Business Association to create a brand new program for Kellogg women – the Women’s Leadership Seminar (WLS). The WLS is open to all graduating Kellogg women and focuses on the research demonstrating the unique challenges women face during their careers. The program provided an opportunity for my class to have a shared experience as women and created an environment to discuss the big what-ifs around the idea that women ‘can or cannot have it all.’ Throughout the seminar, it was clear that the WBA was able to elevate the global gender equality conversation at Kellogg in a meaningful way. Small group dinners and candid conversations began occurring organically between classmates, and we had over 200 men commit to our first annual Gender Equality pledge.  Many of my peers told me that the Women’s Leadership Seminar was the highlight of their Kellogg experience and that they feel they have a stronger network to leverage in their careers as a result. Seeing my peers experience this vision in such an impactful way was my most rewarding experience at Kellogg and in my career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I co-designed and built a program in Lima, Peru that provided over 1,000 female entrepreneurs with access to business education over a 2.5 year period.  The project evaluated whether individual advising, group networks, or classroom learning was most effective in growing their businesses. The results of the project are being used in future public policy recommendations for organizations investing in entrepreneurship as a form of economic development. I learned an incredible amount from the entrepreneurs with whom we worked, and they motivated me to start a business of my own. I still maintain contact with many of our graduates and was able to make a return visit to Peru in December 2015. I am most proud of how the project will continue to help individual entrepreneurs in the future.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Victoria Medvec and Professor Mitchell Petersen have both made a tremendous impact on my professional and personal development.  Professor Medvec is an incredible champion for women while at Kellogg and throughout their careers after graduation. She has been a vocal advocate of mine within her own network and has challenged me to work harder, think bolder and grow as a leader. Professor Petersen’s open door policy has encouraged me to seek out consistent feedback on my projects, business ideas and academic questions. He also serves as a strong positive role model through his commitment to intellectual curiosity, hard work and community. I believe both of these professors will continue to serve as trusted mentors throughout my career.

Favorite MBA Courses? My top two courses at Kellogg were Entrepreneurial Selling and Global Capital Markets.

In Entrepreneurial Selling, we spent five weeks learning and practicing how to sell a product. The class explored the sales process and common pitfalls that can hinder even the most experienced sales professionals. The class was immediately applicable as an entrepreneur as I work on selling my company to investors, selling my vision to employees and selling my product to customers.

Global Capital Markets walked through the current state of the global economy starting with the causes of the financial crisis. The course was taught by Professor Janice Eberly, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the U.S. Treasury, who brought a unique, insider perspective to discussions about global and US current events.

Why did you choose this business school? I came to Kellogg because of its commitment to entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Further, I believe Kellogg is the number one school for women MBAs. From the Zell Fellows program for entrepreneurs to the school-wide Project Impact initiative, Kellogg’s programming provided me an amazing opportunity to learn and grow both personally and professionally.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Hard question! My highlights: the people, the WBA, the opportunity to travel with classmates, and the Zell Fellows program.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I am leaving Kellogg with a clearer vision for myself as a professional, a leader and an entrepreneur. I am confident that I have the peer and mentor relationships I will need to keep me accountable to that vision.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The mentorship from professors has exceeded my expectations. I knew that I would build a strong network with the other students, but I was not expecting to form such close relationships with professors.

What was the hardest part of business school? Prioritization! There are so many opportunities – to meet people, to work with professors, to get involved with clubs, to start a business. It can be challenging to pick just a few areas of focus.  Learning to find comfort in trade-offs is a valuable skill that I will take forward.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school?  Ask our students tough questions.  I think this is important for any school.  What has been good and what would they improve?  What has and has not met their expectations?

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I wanted to make a transition back to the US from living abroad for almost 3 years. At that point, I knew it was time to make a pivot in my career and that business school would provide me with the opportunities, network and skills to make a smart change.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would…have given myself six months to start a business or find a job at a start-up….I imagine that I would have pursued an Executive MBA a few years later.”

What are your long-term professional goals? Over the next ten years of my career, I want to build a company and brand that can empower women as consumers to purchase products they feel good about and trust. Long-term, I want to develop and invest in entrepreneurs. I look forward to being involved in the Chicago entrepreneurial community as it continues to grow.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I have been lucky to have some amazing mentors thus far in my young career. Most importantly, my dad has kept me centered and will always serve as my role model because of his commitment to hard work and pursuit of what makes him happy (in his case: family, fishing, wood-working and hunting).

Fun fact about yourself: I brew my own beer.

Favorite book:  The Sun Also Rises

Favorite movie:  The Sound of Music

Favorite musical performer: Michael Jackson will always be my favorite.

Favorite television show: Current – Game of Thrones; Oldie but Goodie – Sex and the City

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere that I can get a good ceviche, drink a beer and sit by the water.

Hobbies? Cycling, traveling, reading, and, most recently, coloring meditation

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

“Rebecca is an incredible member of the Class of 2016 who has excelled in her two years at Kellogg and left a lasting legacy within the school. I had the opportunity to have Rebecca as a student in her first class at Kellogg. She stood out in the class with the comments she added to class discussions. What particularly impressed me though is that she sought me out following the class and told me that she wanted to craft a unique leadership program for the female students at Kellogg. She told me this during one of her first days at Kellogg and I watched her accomplish this incredible goal over the next year. It was remarkable to me to see how Rebecca drove this initiative through the school. Rebecca worked with me to create content for the program, she brought the WBA on board to generate student support, and she met with the Dean’s office to garner the school’s involvement. Her determination, insight, and drive were amazing and revealed to me why she has already created a successful start-up business.

This winter, the Women’s Leadership Seminar was launched. More than 150 female students participated in a novel, integrated seminar that included five sessions on topics such as Controlling Your Narrative, Negotiating Effectively for Yourself, and Leveraging Your Network. The seminar provoked deep discussion amongst the women of 2016 about the challenges they will face in their careers, the goals they have, and how they will overcome obstacles across their careers. The Seminar created a forum for rare conversation about the concerns the students have in their quest to have families and big jobs; in every session, there was a focus on the impact they want to have in many parts of their lives. The energy from the Seminar was amazing and the second year female students who were not enrolled in the Seminar begged to join the class. Male students even asked if they could participate. The women met outside of the class in reading groups and formed discussion groups to continue to talk about the content we discussed and the issues they know they will face. Some of the discussion groups are continuing to meet this spring. The Seminar was an incredible success with extremely positive feedback from the students who participated. Many of the women who participated said that it was their “favorite experience at Kellogg.”

What was most remarkable though was the conversation that the Seminar sparked outside of the sessions. I saw the participants raising topics about gender issues in other classes and initiating a broader conversation across the school. Plans are already being made for the Women’s Leadership Seminar next year and new programs for female students have been crafted by the school to complement this offering. Rebecca Sholiton had the vision for this program, created it through intensive hard work, and provided the female MBAs at Kellogg the opportunity to share in this experience. She will leave a lasting legacy at Kellogg that will continue to shape how Kellogg prepares female leaders in the future. She is clearly one of the Best and Brightest in the Class of 2016.”

Victoria H. Medvec

Adeline Barry Davee Professor of Management and Organizations

Kellogg School of Management


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