2016 MBAs To Watch: Katie Wehmeyer, Missouri (Crosby)

Katie Wehmeyer-Missouri-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Katie Wehmeyer

University of Missouri, Crosby MBA

Age: 24

Hometown: Rosebud, MO

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Missouri, B.S. Bioengineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I enrolled in graduate school the fall after I graduated with an undergraduate degree. I spent the summer between my degrees as an engineering intern at Engineering Ministries International, a company headquartered in Colorado Springs that does design work in developing countries. My project took me to Haiti, where my team designed a village to be built for victims of the 2010 earthquake who were still misplaced.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I took a fellowship with Emzingo in Lima, Peru. Emzingo’s graduate-level program is the NexGen Consulting Corps, an experience that integrates consulting for NGOs or social enterprises with leadership and personal development training. I consulted for a nonprofit that focuses on youth and women empowerment through entrepreneurship.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be a business fellow in the Biodesign and Innovation Fellowship at the University of Missouri.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: CLIMB (Collaboration, Leadership, Innovation in Missouri Business), President. CLIMB is a student-led organization that fosters and supports entrepreneurship by providing resources, mentoring, and opportunities for startups to compete for seed funding. I am also an ambassador for the Crosby MBA program, representing the program in recruitment activities, giving tours to prospective students, and writing blogs about the program.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My favorite course in the program was Launching a High Growth Venture. The class teaches the start-up process, including having a technology or idea, finding a viable market, writing a business plan, and building out financials and projections. It culminates with a pitch competition, as if we were pitching to angel investors for funding. I really latched onto the process and truly enjoyed the work that the course required. My team placed first, which was very rewarding after spending a vast amount of time and energy on this class. The judges were angel investors and showed interest in actually becoming investors in the company. One even joined the board as an adviser for the company.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my drive to find opportunities that will build the skill and experience set that I need to pursue my ultimate career goals and the success that I have been awarded along the way. When I was considering summer opportunities during the MBA program, I wanted consulting experience in the social space. Emzingo was the perfect fit, but seemed out of reach based on experience requirements. Being accepted into the program, despite my age and lack of work experience, was huge for me and afforded me an incredible international experience that grew me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

Who is your favorite professor? Diana Kander, professor for Launching a High Growth Venture and Corporate Innovation. Diana has an energy that no other professor has matched — and a zeal for constant self-improvement that spreads to every student she reaches. She is a serial entrepreneur with a world of experience and examples that are brought into every lecture. She makes us learn by doing and by talking to people, whether they are potential customers or people who work in the space we are researching. No assignment in her classes feels trivial. Each project is real, and we feel a real responsibility for the outcomes and the people they could affect. Every academic program should be taught this way.

Favorite MBA Courses? Launching a High Growth Venture taught how to start a company, from ideation through pitching for funding. Allen Angel Capital Education Program was a student-run fund that acts as an angel investor; the class does due diligence on startups and decides if our fund will invest in the companies. Corporate Innovation taught us to think entrepreneurially within a company, and methods for incremental innovation. Entrepreneurship and Media of the Future taught us consulting for start-up media companies.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the University of Missouri because it offers an atmosphere of strong community and collaboration. I could feel this when I interviewed for the program and I now experience it every day in my interactions with faculty and my peers. The program is also affordable. As someone who wanted to gain the skill set of an MBA but was less concerned about needing the prestige of an Ivy League, this felt like the right path. It also helped that I absolutely love Columbia.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I have most enjoyed the exposure that I have gotten to the entrepreneurial community here, both in the program and in Columbia. This wasn’t something that I was exposed to during my undergraduate career, but have latched onto during my graduate program. As soon as I started the program, I began my graduate assistantship with Centennial Investors, Columbia’s angel investing network. I soon became familiar with the entrepreneurial courses offered in the program and used most of my elective classes to learn more about that space. During the spring of my first year, I became involved with CLIMB and took over as president of that organization during the fall of my second year. I attended Startup Weekend and helped start a backpacking company that is still operating. This spring I joined the student angel fund, a class that operates a fund and invests real money into real start-ups, teaching us an angel investor’s perspective. All of these experiences have funneled me into the position I accepted following graduation: the Biodesign and Innovation Fellowship. This position emulates a start-up, taking our team from an ideation stage through an engineering/prototyping phase, and ultimately a business phase where we will ideally patent, license, or build a company out of our technology. Business school has opened up this entire world to me and led me to a career path that I can’t wait to experience more of.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I learned to look at the world differently, in terms of seeing endless opportunity for personal and professional growth. My focus in undergrad was very directly on my academic performance and how that reflected on my grades. My graduate program put much more emphasis on being a well-rounded person, and that is something I can already see myself carrying with me from the program.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was surprised at the diversity in skill and mind sets. After spending four years in an engineering program, where all students think very analytically and work fairly independently, business school was an obvious change of pace. I saw group projects work more fluidly, as team members had different strengths they were able to pull into the project (as opposed to engineering students having similar strengths). I love the variety of backgrounds among my peers in the MBA program and was surprised at the benefits that variety posed in group work.

What was the hardest part of business school? Balancing opportunities that presented themselves. Diana Kander once told our class to be acutely aware of the responsibilities we take on. Often times, opportunities present themselves that may seem beneficial, but if we take on everything we are offered then we aren’t leaving room to take on responsibilities that really matter. I have struggled with wanting to take on everything that comes my way, then having to decide what is most important to me when it turns out that I can’t do it all. I found business school to be the epitome of this situation; always having more within reach than I can effectively handle and having to decide where my attention is best focused.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? The program is what you make it for yourself. If you only go to class and complete coursework, you will get less out of the program than you would if you put it to practice. Join organizations, take on responsibility, and find part-time projects or work that expands on the skill set you are developing. You really do get out what you put in, and I feel fortunate to have realized that at the start of the program, and to truly have taken it to heart.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I saw the limitless opportunity it offered for my career and life path.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working for a paycheck, and not in a career path that my heart is truly in.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Juan Diego Callisto, founder of Ruwasunchis. This is probably an unconventional answer, but I worked with Juan Diego last summer and grew to admire the way he thinks and acts. Located in a rural community outside of Lima, Ruwasunchis is a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth and women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship. It is obvious that Juan Diego lives and breathes for his organization and the people it serves. He is a father figure to children who do not have admirable father figures in their lives. He gives women and mothers the means and skills to be caretakers for their families, in an area where steady income is difficult to obtain. He values creativity and teaching others how to integrate creativity into their work. Every day spent with him was a chance to glean wisdom and a more socially oriented mindset, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that experience.

What are your long-term professional goals? To be awesome and love my work. I love the positive energy of a start-up, along with the anticipation of solving unknowns. I had an awesome experience consulting in the social space, and could easily see myself following a path in that direction. Learning about design thinking and consulting has been fascinating to me, and I want to join a firm that promotes that type of innovative thinking. So, in summary, my long-term professional goal is some amalgamation of those elements, in a role where I am continually learning.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? It would be unfair to choose one person. I have had an overwhelming amount of support from past and present co-workers, managers, faculty members, friends, and family.

Fun fact about yourself: I love plants, and my house makes that obvious. I am currently looking forward to planting my window boxes for spring.

Favorite book: Love Does by Bob Goff

Favorite movie: Half the Sky (documentary)

Favorite musical performer: The Lone Bellow

Favorite television show: “Friends”

Favorite vacation spot: Mountains, it doesn’t matter where

Hobbies? Reading, watching documentaries, hiking

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

“Katie came to the Crosby MBA program with a degree in biological engineering. However, she came to learn a greater appreciation for building strong communities through her travels to developing countries where she saw the need for resources such as clean water, houses, and medicine. Katie discovered that her true passion was in nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurship. Since then, Katie has been extremely involved in community-based programming inside and outside of the classroom. She is the lead coordinator for the student organization CLIMB (Collaboration, Leadership, Innovation in Missouri Business), in which she collaborates with many people across campus who run entrepreneurial endeavors and projects. Over the Summer, Katie traveled to Peru for an internship as part of Emzingo’s NexGen Fellowship, an eight-week leadership and social impact training in which students assist a local NGO or social enterprise with a consulting project. She recently organized a One Million Slices event in which students share ideas and exchange feedback about their start-up companies. Katie also participated in our Launching a High Growth Venture class in which students create business plans for new technology-based start-up companies. Katie and her team won the business plan competition for this course. Her energy and dedication in nonprofit work and entrepreneurship has been influential in other students having conversations and making them think outside the box. She has been a wonderful addition to our program.”

Kim Hedges, M.Ed.

Academic Adviser

University of Missouri




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