2016 MBAs To Watch: Gregory Keel, Penn State (Smeal)

Gregory Keel-Penn State-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Gregory G. Keel

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

Age: 29

Hometown: Ewing, NJ

Undergraduate School and Degree: Morehouse College – Accounting

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Dominion Business Solutions – Senior Consultant/Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? PPG Industries – Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon – Pathways Operations Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • Graduate Assistant – Diversity Enhancement Programs
    • Tutor undergraduate business students
      • Accounting, Supply Chain Management, Professional Development
    • Adviser to the Black Male Leadership Symposium (BMLS) group
      • Undergraduate business students
      • Biweekly meetings discussing current events and various business topics
    • Organizer for second and third annual BMLS symposium
      • One-day conference of guest speakers and panel discussion related to topics facing minority students during and after school
    • Host monthly scholars meeting
      • Bring in company sponsors to meet with undergraduate diversity scholars and discuss a vast range of topics
    • Lead Boeing Scholars Case Competition
      • Annual case competition sponsored by Boeing for the undergraduate first- and second-year scholars. Students are assigned teams, presented with a business case, and have to prepare a final recommendation to industry judges.
    • President – Supply Chain Management Association
      • Lead organization of 70 first- and second-year MBA students
      • Host Chevron SCM Case Comp
      • Organized 2 SCM Company/Candidate mixers
    • Vice President – Minority MBA Association
      • Family Game Night – Casino games for adults and kids games for the children.
      • Hispanic Heritage Night – Recognized the contributions of Hispanics throughout our history and enjoyed special meals from different countries.
      • Black History Jeopardy – A spin on the popular game show with multiple categories for fun Black History facts.
    • Volunteer – MBA Admissions
      • Met with potential candidates and admitted students to discuss the program, career services, and life in State College from a student’s perspective.
    • Member – Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
      • Organized and participated in several community service events including voter registration drive, golf tournament, family cookout, talent hunt program, and a blood drive

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the case competition team I worked with for two major competitions during the second year of the MBA. The team had never worked together as a team before, but we quickly realized everyone’s expertise and worked toward the common goal and developing the best recommendations for the case challenges. The members of the team are now some of my closest friends in the MBA program and people I will continue to reach out to for help on school projects and even after graduation in my professional career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was successfully implementing an inventory control model during my summer internship. The model recalculated the necessary levels of pipeline, safety, and cycle stock to prevent 95% of stock outs. The new model took into consideration the different priorities of each of the product lines, the production constraints and capacity, and the product demand to determine the target inventory level for each product. The model improved the On-Time In Full (OTIF) metric from 74% to 94% within one month. The improvement led to completing more customer orders on time, which increased profits and customer satisfaction.

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Vidya Mani was my favorite professor in the MBA program. She was the Demand Planning professor during the first year of my MBA. Her class was the most impactful to my drive for wanting to seriously pursue Supply Chain Managementand specifically in an operational role. She would introduce the lessons, create exercises for us to practice, then explain how it would be used in a real-world scenario. She was also available to answer my questions during the summer while I was working in my internship and building out the Inventory Level model.

Favorite MBA Courses? My favorite and most useful classes during my MBA have been the following courses: Demand Planning, Strategy Implementation, Strategic Financial Management, and Six Sigma Black Belt. Each of these courses has provided me with specific skills, frameworks, and knowledge that I anticipate being extremely useful to my career progression after graduating in May.

Why did you choose this business school? I was initially interested in Penn State Smeal because of the Supply Chain Management (SCM) program. The program has consistently ranked in the top five SCM programs around the nation by leading rankings. After visiting the campus and meeting the MBA professors and administration, I knew it was a great fit for me. The small class size, genuine interest the administration takes in the MBA students, and the connection I’ve made with my classmates are reasons that attending Penn State has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The networking in business school was the most invaluable experience. I have met people from backgrounds so vast and different than mine that I can now say I know intimately someone from every continent in the world except Antarctica. My classmates, professors, and other Penn State faculty have shared so much information, insights, and skill sets for me to use going forward. The contacts are ones that will continue to mature even after graduation and I look forward to helping them in the future and vice versa.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? A repeated lesson from life and business school is time management and prioritization. So often in school, especially during the first year, there were homework assignments due, company information sessions to attend, internship applications to complete, case competitions to participate in, and social events to attend. As a result, it was important to prioritize each activity. Each week, I would have to make decisions about what I would attend and participate in, keeping in mind all the other things happening that week and coming up in the next week. Learning how to prioritize to meet goals for each week has been the best strategy to successfully matriculate through the MBA program.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The most surprising element to business school was the amount of time spent in the business building. I knew it would be hard work and keep me busy, but I did not anticipate so many early mornings and late nights in the building. I was spending time working on individual assignments, team assignments, job applications, case competitions, and attending company information sessions. There were many days I would arrive before 7 a.m. and not leave until close to 11 p.m.

What was the hardest part of business school? The hardest part about business school was learning the material at such a fast pace. The professors have limited time to teach and I had limited time for each class. Each day the hardest task was truly maximizing 24 hours in a day to learn the material in class, complete the assignments after class, and prepare for exams. Combining the academic rigor with the other goals of networking, securing an internship/full-time job, and still having time for family was the toughest part of business school.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? The best advice I have for a business school applicant is to know what your main objective and goals are for coming back to school. Then set small goals that reach that overall goal. It is important to stay focused on your main objective and prioritize the activities that get you to that goal.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I was working with a client and every senior leader around the conference table had an MBA. I wanted to be in their position and needed to do what they did to get their including earning my MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… still in a consulting role without the leadership role I so yearned for.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Jeff Bezos is an executive I admire in the professional world. He is the founder of Amazon and believes in never settling or being content with where the company is. His leadership principles guide all decisions at Amazon and he has been able to influence an entire work culture to innovate and place value on the customer’s satisfaction.

What are your long-term professional goals? Long-term, the plan is to be a vice president of Supply Chain Management for a publicly held company, preferably in the consumer goods space. To get there, I want to work my way through operational roles along the supply chain, with each new position leading to new responsibilities and competencies.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank my parents and my wife. My parents have provided me with indescribable guidance, encouragement, and support since I was born and have taught me the value of hard work. My wife has been my rock since we’ve been dating. She always has my back and is the best soundboard I have when I am facing tough decisions. She enables my dreams so that we can live the life we always dreamed of together.

Favorite book: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Favorite movie: Fast & Furious (the entire series)

Favorite musical performer: J. Cole

Favorite television show: “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”

Favorite vacation spot: Grand Bahamas

Hobbies? Hobbies include grilling, billiards, and spending time with my infant son.

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

“There many reasons why Greg Keel has been an invaluable member to the Diversity Enhancement team over the last two years. However, I can sum it up in one word: Jamison. Jamison is Greg’s son and that attitude of being a new dad is something that he brings with him to work every day. He is patient with our undergraduate students. A firm and guiding force, he makes sure that they are able to not only succeed academically but professionally as well. He does not allow them to give up, he works with them until they are able see the task through. Greg is supportive of his peers, helping and giving advice where he can to ensure that his classmates have the best experience while here at Smeal. I have also seen him to have a concern for the Smeal brand, and what this degree means to him. It is for all these things and many more that I feel Greg Keel has made an outstanding contribution to the Diversity Enhancement Programs and the Smeal College of Business.”

Jamie Campbell
Assistant Dean
Diversity Enhancement Programs
Penn State University

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