2016 MBAs To Watch: Chris Hartlage, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Christopher Hartlage Notre Dame

Chris Hartlage


University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Age: 25

Hometown: Louisville, KY

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Kentucky, B.S. Biology

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Hartlage Fence Company, Operations Manager – Served in role assisting with daily operations of family business in Louisville, KY

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? My summer internship was in marketing at Emerson Electric –  Upstream Oil & Gas – McKinney, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be serving as a Strategic Planner for Emerson Electric – Process Management – Flow Solutions Group

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of South Bend tutoring middle school children for a time. In school, I served as the Student Activities Chair, Management Club Vice President, Graduation Committee Chair, Career Action Group Leader, and as an Admissions Ambassador.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of my responsibilities as Student Activities Chair was to organize tailgates. For a few years, the MBA tailgates had not lived up to the expectations of Notre Dame football. In my time, we held pig roasts, fully catered tailgates, and hosted Kellogg during the Northwestern/ND football game. The events became the focus of people’s fall weekends and truly served as the networking location for bringing together different Mendoza classes.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The proudest moment of my professional career was going back home for Christmas break after the first semester of B-school and consulting with my father on business issues with a different lens. I applied my knowledge gained from the classroom to offer advice on inventory issues, worked through some strategic plans, and had conversations with the accountants on financial issues.

Who is your favorite professor? Robert Battalio – how many professors can bring energy and charisma on a daily basis to a Finance I class? I still remember his quirky and sometimes erratic way of teaching us how to do discount cash flows – which has proved invaluable.

Favorite MBA Courses? Financing the Corporation, Marketing Analytics, Business on the Frontlines

Why did you choose this business school? Notre Dame attracts a unique type of student, one who values a small academic setting that highlights ethics and business for a better purpose. Walking onto campus and feeling at home, the choice was clear. Mendoza is a competitive environment; but a place where someone will assist you in any and every way possible, including the vast alumni network of ND.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Without a shadow of a doubt, the people. I met more impressive and insightful individuals in the last two years than I did in my previous 10. My classmates come from all points of the globe, with phenomenal stories and diverse backgrounds. To experience all of our academic extracurricular activities with these people has been so much fun.  I wouldn’t trade a friendship made at Mendoza for anything.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? The world is a truly connected place. Before B-school, I lived in a bubble of Kentucky. During my time at Mendoza, I traveled as a tourist to China, served on a consulting project in Indonesia, sat in boardrooms in San Francisco, conferences in Chicago and Minneapolis, and have friends from 15+ countries. Without the last two years, I would never have fully understood the connectedness of the globe, and the way in which business has shaped this globalization.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The experiences of the people around me. I had a notion that every person would come from an investment bank or consulting firm, yet I’ve met founders of start-ups, teachers, Peace Corps volunteers, and veterans. Every one of these people has a unique story that continues to amaze me every day.

What was the hardest part of business school? Adjusting to South Bend winters. We got 12” of snow in one day in November my first year.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Do the background career research before stepping foot onto campus. The easiest way to have a leg up on the game is to identify the companies, industries, and geographic markets for your career and pursue those with a vengeance in the first two months of B-school.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…”I had a conversation with a family friend who served as a senior executive in a Fortune 150 company. He had just arrived home from work travel in India and told stories of ex-pats abroad, corporate meetings, and high-stress presentations. The opportunities that a MNC presented him, and the ones they could bring me, cemented my choice.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…back home in Louisville working for the family business.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Albert B. Blanton – President of Buffalo Trace Distillery. Blanton is largely credited with keeping the bourbon industry alive during Prohibition. He capitalized on a disrupted market and got federal approval to continue producing. He used marketing effectively, drumming up the idea of “premium” spirits. Without him, my home state likely wouldn’t be world-renowned for its signature libation.

What are your long-term professional goals? For now, at my age, I desire to climb the ladder and reach CEO of a Fortune 500 company in the manufacturing and heavy industry space. Yet, as life progresses, and plans changes, I will reassess and prioritize personal goals accordingly.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents. My dad was not only my first boss, but the man who taught me to critically think about every issue – while maintaining an ethical and small family business mentality. My mom is one of the brightest and hardest working people I know – she is a successful business manager and consistently succeeds. I have always aspired to be emulate her. Additionally, they provided above and beyond for my educational needs and raised me to be a caring person.

Fun fact about yourself: The first time I tried Chicken Pad Thai was in 2015 – in Thailand.

Favorite book: The Firm – John Grisham

Favorite movie: Remember the Titans

Favorite musical performer: George Strait

Favorite television show: Modern Family

Favorite vacation spot: Nolin Lake – a place back in Kentucky where every summer our friends have a cabin and we spend hours around a bon fire and on the boat.

Hobbies? Watching college basketball, golf, and bouncing around Wikipedia through linked articles – I’ll look up a historical event and get pulled to a biography.

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

“Chris Hartlage stands out as a leader in the Class of 2016. During his time at Notre Dame, he has consistently demonstrated the ability to think beyond his own perspective and experience to understand the “big picture” of the program, the College, the University, and life beyond school. He also dedicated himself to the overall success of the Notre Dame MBA, and earned the respect of his classmates through his contributions to the program.

To mention a few specific contributions, Chris served as an Admissions Ambassador and was instrumental in designing and executing the campus visit days for prospective students. This wasn’t just a duty for him, but a role he undertook with enthusiasm and heart, which speaks to his understanding of the importance of culture and community at Notre Dame. He volunteered as the Student Activities Chair with a sincere desire to bring his classmates together in ways that enhanced their experience. He realized the value of social activities and the impact they could have on strengthening the Notre Dame network.

Chris’ other contributions included serving as Vice President of the Management Club; Career Action Group Leader, where he devoted much of his time helping first year international and marketing students improve their networking and interview skills to better prepare for effective job searches; and as Chair of the Graduation Committee, which involved spearheading daily activities for final week at Notre Dame in order to provide a truly memorable celebration for the Class of 2016.

At the Mendoza College of Business, we ask students to, “Ask More of Business, Ask More of Yourself.” Through all of his interactions with classmates, prospective students, faculty and administrators alike, Chris exemplifies that mission.”

Mary Goss

Senior Director of Graduate Business Programs

Mendoza College of Business




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