2016 MBAs To Watch: Elizabeth M. Richter, Michigan State (Broad)

Elizaeth Richter-Michigan State-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Elizabeth M. Richter

Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business Full Time MBA Program

Age: 27

Hometown: White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Undergraduate School and Degree: West Virginia University College of Business & Economics – Bachelor of Science in Business Administration – Marketing – Summa Cum Laude 2011

Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo – Spanish Study Abroad – credits earned 2009

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Kohl’s Department Stores – Non-Retail Analyst in Procurement – Headquarters Menomonee Falls, WI 2011-2014; and Gene and Nancy D. Richter Foundation – Board of Directors

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Cisco, San Jose, CA – MBA Manager of Global Planning and Fulfillment

Where will you be working after graduation? Flex (formerly Flextronics) San Jose, CA in the Supply Chain Leadership Program two year rotation and Gene and Nancy D. Richter Foundation – Board of Directors

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

– Professional Associations: Institute for Supply Management (ISM), American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), Forte Forum, Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity, Beta Gamma Sigma induction in undergrad and graduate school – graduate rank is 8th in class

-Certifications: Supply Market Analysis and Cost Modeling by Anklesaria Group (TCO Modeling)

-Notarranni Scholarship for International Business $10,000

-Jane M. Klausman Scholarship for Women in Business through the Zonta Organization $1,000

-2nd place The Pitch competition for product innovation and entrepreneurship with my product being in the women’s fashion industry

-1st place Extreme Green 2016 entrepreneurship competition with my product being in the children’s clothing industry

-MBA Associations: Graduate SCMA 2nd Year President (1st Year Liaison), MBAA, Women’s BWMBA (VP of 1st Year Relations), Broad Sport Commission member

-Language: Spanish study abroad in Santander, Spain 2009. Competency is intermediate. Mandarin online courses and through classmates – beginner proficiency.

-Volunteer: Charity Committee for 400+ executives at Kohl’s, Backpacks for Success – source, pack, and distribute backpacks to underprivileged children through 100 Black Men of Madison Association, Led two Habitat for Humanity ReStore projects in 2015 & 2016 to further learning for graduate supply chain management students at MSU as well as benefit the organization – 5S organization project and cost modeling, raised over $13,000 collectively from selling pies donated by Grand Traverse Pie Company and through participating in a date auction.

-Planned and executed two treks for the Graduate Supply Chain Management association to visit P&G’s Ohio Manufacturing and Distribution Centers as well as Steelcase and Lansing Brewing Company tours.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Apart from trying to start my own business in women’s fashion (including a 3D printout of a shoe that transforms from a flat into a high heel), I am most proud of the business plan competition that my team won this semester. We were an assigned team in our first year of business school. We were perfectly diverse in thought, gender, race, religion, and were even cross-functional. This was a lot to maneuver. We were the only team that reassembled. On our first day as a team, we pledged that we would win a competition together (we still have the contract). This was our last shot. I came up with the idea for expandable clothing that grow with the children. The rest of the team conquered their area of expertise in marketing, finance, and distribution to land a winning product. In the end, we are actually talking about how to patent the intellectual property and start producing.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I am most proud of taking a leap. I could easily be a farmhand on my sister’s farm in West Virginia, which would not have been fulfilling for me. I am proud of myself for taking the chance to go to college and then the next one to work at my first professional job buying international transportation. And the next leap to graduate school and a move across the country, and the world, to China (most likely Suzhou), for my dream job at a supply chain solutions company. I’m excited to see where the next stretching leap will take me.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Hollenbeck. He really takes teaching to the next level by providing students with enthusiastic lectures that are more interactive than most. He is very engaging and also hosts a simulation to teach teams to work together and to identify future leaders. I was one of four students selected to be a team adviser in my second year for first-year teams. This was an incredible learning experience. Having been through the simulation the previous year, I realized it can be hard to analyze a situation when you are involved. Learning through these teams as an outside observer taught me to predict situations and watch for other leadership emergence. I kept a diary for each of my students and documented my initial thoughts as well as my more developed thoughts at the end of the semester. I also learned about myself and whether I am too quick to pass judgment at times. This will help me become a better manager in the future.

Favorite MBA Courses? Apart from the leadership course taught by Dr. Hollenbeck, I took an international course called Assessing Global Business Environments, taught by Dr. Kirca. We started the course with quite a few students and ended with six at the end of the first week because there were cases due every day. I liked the openness and interactive atmosphere that the professor created along with the material. We talked about international firms and entrance strategies into new markets. We talked about valuable real-world business issues that other courses glossed over such as GDP and tax advantages in certain countries. We also set aside time to have open discussions about what was happening in the world — I specifically remember asking his thoughts on the Paris attacks. He realized these are important events and often several of us would stay after class discussing other business news.

Why did you choose this business school? During my junior year of undergraduate education and after attending the annual ISM Conference, I realized that I wanted to study supply chain management. Unfortunately, WVU did not offer that degree. So, one of my professors offered me an independent study on the subject of sustainable supply chain management. My coursework material was used over the next year to create lessons for the university on the subject. While I was working in supply chain management at Kohl’s though on-the-job training, I determined that I needed the formal education in supply management if I wanted to excel later in my career.

I interviewed current students, alumni, and professors at both MSU and ASU after determining that they were among the top-ranked schools from U.S. News and World Report in the subject. Upon assessing all the data along with input from my mentor and family, I decided that MSU was the best fit culturally and for my education.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The small class size of approximately 80 students allowed me to get to know everyone in the program. We also know many of the students in the graduating years ahead of us and directly after us. MSU has an amazing alumni network that continues to connect through sporting events and are open to conversations. As president of the GSCMA, I had to plan treks and cold-called an executive at P&G who was also a MSU alumni. After several conversations and much planning, he agreed to have our organization tour their facility and it by far exceeded our expectations. With a class size of only 80, you build connections to lean on in the future. I could call upon any one of these 80 students 10 years into our careers and confidently say that all of them would help me problem-solve or offer advice.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? When entering business school, I expected to learn about academics, but I also learned about myself. When entering a tough program, at times you wonder if you’re cut out for it or if you measure up to the rest of the candidates. In times of doubt, you have to be confident that you are as good as the next MBA or you wouldn’t be here. The program has taught me resiliency and highlighted my personal strengths, not to mention I took the Strength Finders assessment. When looking back on the last two years, yes, I’ve learned much about business and supply chains, but I’ve also learned about myself on this journey that pushed me to keep excelling pass the point I thought possible. Every time you are out of your comfort zone, you are growing. This has almost an addictive feature to it that pushes true leaders to never stop learning throughout their career.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The international aspect to business school was the most surprising to me. I grew up in a very non-diverse area and then moved to another in Wisconsin. I have now met so many international students and actually become lifelong friends with them. Recently, one of my friends told me that the reason people like me is that I listen and am interested in the international students while other domestic students would rather hang out together. I found this strange as I was oblivious to the fact that this was happening. To me, we should all be interested in their learnings as they already have international experience, knowing other languages, cuisines, religions, and cultures. I had the privilege of house hopping in India with three of my classmates over winter break and could write an entire book on everything I learned. After graduation, I will be traveling to Inner Mongolia, China for another classmate’s wedding. I am surprised by how much the MBA program has taught me in terms of academics, but also socially. It has been a fruitful and educational journey, from not meeting someone of Asian descent until I left for undergrad to now becoming lifelong friends and attending their wedding.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time management is the hardest part of business school. Professors knowingly give too much work for a full course load, making you read every word and complete every assignment to the best of your ability. MBAs learn how to produce good work quickly. I am completing my MBA with a concentration in Supply Chain Management with sub-concentrations in Management and International Business. Time management is also difficult for me because I am involved in extracurricular activities and organizations. I have done this because I wanted to get the most out of the experience. I also have learned to thrive on having too many activities going at once, so this semester outside of school, I enrolled in weekly Mandarin and guitar lessons as well as golf lessons at the driving range.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? I often respond to potential MSU applicants, as my contact information is listed on our school website for organizations. I’ve done it so many times that a common script I start from before tailoring it to the specific person is posted below. In summary, my best advice is to be yourself during interviews. There is something to say for networking and personal connections in business. It can really take you a long way just to understand and to listen to others. To master this, be genuine. Here is my script:

“A little about myself: I am a second year supply chain management student with three years prior industry experience working at Kohl’s Department Stores. At Kohl’s, I was in procurement and partnered with the logistics teams to source international transportation as well as technology and equipment for the 13 DCs/E-fulfillment centers. Outside of classes, I hold an elected position in the Graduate Supply Chain Management Association, and spend a large amount of time working on my own product development through resources offered by the university. I interned with Cisco in San Jose this summer in their supply chain department for Global Planning and Fulfillment.

“Enrolling in Michigan State University’s full-time MBA program has been one of the best choices I could have made for my career. It is a top-notch school for supply-chain management as you have probably seen in the rankings. We have also risen to the top for all MBA specializations in the business school in general. The Dean, who also taught a course for the entire semester, is trying to make our program special with the twist of innovation. Faculty has found that most companies expect the same skills of an MBA student graduating from any of the top schools, but being able to problem solve by using innovative solutions sets us apart from other students. We have done quite a few projects already where the professors have brought in executives from major companies to judge competitions.

“In-between modules, students participate in Broad Week, which is in intensive three day workshop focusing on a specific aspect of business. This is a way to hear from industry experts and practice case studies. This year we even did a little bit of improv.

“The course schedule is broken up into modules instead of semesters. In this first semester, we had two sets of courses. This is a very fast-paced program where you have many resources at your fingertips. You will be assigned into groups of five students in the first year where you learn a lot of leadership skills by working together and how to manage time with the course load. You will have about five classes at any one time, but it’s plenty to keep you busy along with a multitude of other events available.

“The camaraderie of the group is one of my favorite aspects of this program. We have about 80 students in year two and comparable to that in year one. With such a small group, you are able to really make connections for a lifetime with your class. The student organizations are a large part of the learning experience in the program. There are tons of groups to join including the MBAA, which resembles student government for MBAs, the Multicultural Association, and Broad Consulting Club to name a few. Through the GSCMA, members are able to take treks or day trips to see major companies’ supply chains. This fall, we traveled to P&G’s 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center in Ohio. We are also putting together a program to partner with Habitat for Humanity in an effort to utilize our supply-chain skills to streamline flow in their receiving centers.

“The MSU full-time MBA program provides students with amazing opportunities to connect with recruiters. During some class sessions and organization meetings, we have guest speakers. There always seems to be at least one company on campus. During the fall semester, we also have a private MBA tailgate where one company hosts the entire event each weekend and brings several executives to network with us.

“Choosing MSU to complete my MBA program has been one of the best choices I could have made. Also, I believe the full-time model of graduate school is important as it immerses the student in the subjects and really allows them to grasp the topics rather than trying to find time on nights and weekends as you would in an executive program.”

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I found myself on the phone in my apartment with my mentor on Thanksgiving day discussing my next professional move. My parents showed up (the new tradition is I cook and they travel to my location) and I dropped the big news on them. I didn’t have a GMAT score or anything worked out, but I knew that I would follow through.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… either a start-up entrepreneur or a mechanical engineer. As a child, I used to play with Kinney, which are basically Legos, but they have the ability to rotate with a battery-powered engine. My Dad has always pushed me to disrupt the engineering field as a woman. If that were to fail, I would become a start-up entrepreneur. I have many product ideas and would enjoy trying to make them a reality.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I admire one of my bosses at Kohl’s Department Stores most. I know that being young in my career, it was unlikely I would find an amazing role model as a boss (due to pure inexperience). However, my boss, Jack Fraser, was outstanding. He now is a director at Lowe’s. Jack had the right balance of authority and personal interaction. The team respected him, but also felt comfortable making suggestions and offering ideas. His main goal was to have everyone on his team succeed, whether that meant personal development or promotions. He also sourced jobs and expanded our roadmap. There was no mandate from the top down that other departments should work through procurement, so he worked hard to make connections and gain the trust of other managers. Much of his management style reminded me of the book Work Rules, a book about human resource management at Google. We still keep in contact today and he has asked me to work on his team again. He has also referred some of his colleagues to me to discuss the possibilities of joining an MBA program.

What are your long-term professional goals? Long-term goals can be difficult to pin down as life provides different paths and opportunities at each one accepted. The plan, for now, is to complete the rotational program at Flex to gain a broader understanding of supply chain and contract manufacturing. Within the next two years, I plan to live internationally working for Flex. I would like to consider a longer-term international stint in the future again. Upon completing the program, I would like to manage a direct team at Flex. Eventually, I would like to hold a lead position for a Fortune 500 supply chain and procurement team. I have been asked to consider the logistics doctoral program at MSU. I would like to consider this later in time to help give back to students just beginning their career. However, I feel that the industry experience is where my heart lies right now and will also give me more insight to leave with the students.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my mentor, Nancy, who has now become my life coach. We met when I was finishing high school and deciding where I would go to college. In our rural town in West Virginia, there was not an abundance of business opportunities. Not many people leave the area. I had never been out of the country and hardly out of the state. Nancy provided mentorship at my young age, telling me that I could be whatever I wanted. She also taught me about diversity and culture. Every year when I visited her in Michigan, we studied a new culture and ate their cuisine. Each time, she pushed me a little further outside of my comfort zone. I would be nowhere near graduating with an MBA if she hadn’t taken me under her wing at a young age. My parents have always been a strong support system and taught me valuable, character-building lessons from the beginning.

Fun fact about yourself: I am a certified scuba diver, bungee jumped in the Swiss Alps in 2014, and lastly, I have traveled to 17 countries.

Favorite book: Personal: Great Expectations. Childhood: Red Sails to Capri. Professional: Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Executives.

Favorite movie: Office Space.

Favorite musical performer: Jack White — he’s an inspiration on the guitar for me!

Favorite television show: I don’t have much time for television, but I would say “Reign” because I enjoy time pieces or “Sherlock” because I like to try to figure out the twist before it’s revealed.

Favorite vacation spot: Domestic: My family’s farm in West Virginia. International: Rome.

Hobbies? Creating start-ups: two in the works (one for women’s shoe fashion and one for children’s clothing), guitar, skiing, traveling, tennis, scuba diving, volleyball, and basketball.

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

“Elizabeth is a change-agent of the highest order. In addition to being an academic superstar, she is directly responsible for inspiring over 300 community service hours amongst her student colleagues. Through her leadership, the GSCMA entered into a professional consultancy with the local Habitat for Humanity that yielded an innovative new inventory system for 3 properties in the greater Lansing area. The GSCMA was one of the two most productive student organizations in the MBA program, with multiple treks to corporate partners every semester (the average is one per group) to include trips to Amazon and P&G facilities

“While Elizabeth is a strong leader, she can also support her colleagues as an exceptional teammate. She recently took on a co-facilitator role in a massive fundraiser for PI day that yielded over $1,000 for the Greater Lansing Food Bank. These two projects are the tip of the iceberg of impact that Elizabeth has spearheaded during her time at Broad. Whomever assumes her leadership responsibilities has large shoes to fill.”

Wayne Hutchison
Director, Academic and Program Services
Broad MBA

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