2016 MBAs To Watch: Dexter Yu Galan, Northwestern (Kellogg)

Dexter Yu Galan-Kellogg-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Dexter Yu Galan


Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Age: 28

Hometown: Manila, Philippines

Undergraduate School and Degree: De La Salle University (Manila, Philippines) – BS Accounting

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

2013-2014: Senior Finance Analyst, Royal Dutch Shell (Philippines)

2011-2012: Sales & Operations Territory Manager, Royal Dutch Shell (Philippines)

2009-2010: Assistant Brand Manager, Procter & Gamble (Singapore)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Investment Banking), New York, NY

Where will you be working after graduation? Bank of America Merrill Lynch (Investment Banking), New York, NY

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Co-president of Investment Banking & Capital Markets Club

Consultant for a Kellogg Impact Consulting Club Project helping a Chicago-based high school tutorial organization

Organizing committee member of the inaugural Southeast Asian MBA Weekend held in Chicago; over 100 participants across top MBA programs in the U.S.

Vice president of the Catholics @ Kellogg Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of my leadership role as co-president of the Kellogg Investment Banking & Capital Markets Club. I’ve always been impressed with Kellogg’s culture of paying it forward and this role was my opportunity to give back. This experience taught me the power of building a strong team. The club had a strong leadership team that worked hand in hand with over a dozen second-year mentor volunteers. Together, we managed to significantly increase the number of summer internships offered to our members.

Also, I’m proud of how the club helped students of varied backgrounds make the transition into investment banking. Of particular note are international students and career switchers. Being an international student and career switcher myself, I understood the challenge of integrating to a new culture, while also learning all the technical nuances of a new industry. The club leadership put a lot of focus on this and we were likewise able to boost the success of such students.

Overall, I was impressed by how club leaders and mentors relentlessly coached the first years — sometimes seemingly more engaged than the actual candidates! I’m proud to have been a part of the team that was able to inspire this culture.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of my achievements as a sales and operations territory manager at Royal Dutch Shell. Managing a territory, I was able to work hand in hand with local Shell gas station retailers, advising them on how to improve their daily operations. I had the opportunity to know these people on a personal basis and to offer my expertise in helping to grow their businesses. It was a privilege to be a part of their family business — something they held very dear. To contribute to its success was exceptionally fulfilling.

Who is your favorite professor? Meghan Busse, associate professor of Strategy. The first thing that struck me about Professor Busse was her unmatched level of energy. I first encountered her at a sample class during Day at Kellogg (Admitted Students’ Welcome Weekend) and I was very quickly impressed by how she got the class engaged. I was delighted to eventually hear that she would be my core Business Strategy course professor.

She has a knack for letting the businesses cases unfold through class participation. Every student gets the opportunity to fully engage and share his or her thoughts and she is quick to acknowledge comments and give quick and forthright feedback. I felt that I was always on my toes and that my mind was running at full speed taking in the discussion while also forming my analytical points of view.

Her teaching style has enabled me to think critically and analytically on my feet while also being able to communicate ideas and arguments clearly in front of a wide audience. This has been particularly helpful for many aspects of the MBA experience such as recruitment, interviewing, and actual engagements during my summer internship.

Favorite MBA Courses? Financial Decisions, Negotiations, Mergers and Acquisitions, LBOs and Corporate Restructuring

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Kellogg because of the school culture, which encompasses a broad spectrum of the MBA experience. First, Kellogg is known for its academic rigor wherein students are always fully invested into the academic learning process — ready to engage in discussions and group work. This is particularly important given the school’s focus on group assignments in most of the courses and electives. I wanted this kind of environment, where my peers push me to extract the most learning from course work both inside and outside the classroom.

The second is the culture of mentorship. Kellogg students are always willing to help each other out, whether it be regarding academic, career, or personal matters. A clear manifestation is how the student-run professional organizations are dedicated to helping students navigate the twists and turns of job searching.

Last, Kellogg students are always driven to aim for something beyond themselves. They are looking to make a lasting impact in the world, regardless of field, and this culture resonates strongly in Kellogg’s primary thrust of Inspiring Growth. I wanted to be around this kind of contagious culture.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I greatly enjoyed the rare opportunity to be around so many smart, driven, and talented individuals. Along the journey, I have made many friends, learning about their professional experiences while also getting to know them intimately as people. Moreover, business school has provided me unique opportunities to travel and share these experiences with friends. One example is my study-abroad program in Europe during the winter quarter of my second year. I visited 10 different countries and traveled with my Kellogg classmates, who were also on exchange all over Europe.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I’ve learned the importance of trusting myself. Being thrust into the MBA scene and surrounded by all the other successful students in the class, it’s easy to doubt one’s abilities. Was I good enough for business school? Would I achieve my career goals? However, I’ve come to realize that confidence is not about what I know, but rather about being open to uncertainty and trusting that I will learn and adapt.

I would certainly say that once I was able to trust in myself, I was able to get into a groove and challenge myself to learn more and take on greater challenges — all with a stride of confidence and positive energy. At Kellogg, I challenged myself not only in academics and career development, but also in music and sports. I’m one of the leaders of the A Cappella Club (primarily performing the role of beatbox or bass) and have also signed up for a number of golf tournaments, including an inter-MBA golf competition.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was surprised by the importance of strategically seeking and taking advice. Initially thinking that most of the learning would be in classrooms and lecture sessions, I quickly realized that a big chunk of the learning comes from reaching out. I learned to leverage the Kellogg network and reach out to peers with first-hand industry knowledge, to alumni in companies I recruited for and to mentors. All these interactions have allowed me to gather advice — some great, some not very helpful — and to reflect on these perspectives to help me grow as an MBA student. Obviously, everyone has a different viewpoint, but that’s the beauty of being able to gather and synthesize these to form helpful personal resolutions.

What was the hardest part of business school? The biggest challenge at business school is being able to prioritize activities and modulate one’s stamina. There are literally hundreds of things you could do (i.e., classes, lectures, career events, group projects, social functions, and networking events), but you only have 24 hours in a day — and you still need your sleep!

Picking activities to focus on is vital. At the onset of my MBA, I spent a lot of time on career development and meeting new people. I was focused on landing a summer internship and clearly aligned my lifestyle toward this goal. But once I had my internship offer, I then changed gears and focused on learning skills necessary to succeed in my internship, and eventually a full-time role in my company.

This also brings me to my point about managing physical and mental energy. There are times when I had to go pedal-to-the-metal to get things done. But I needed my time to rest, and also nurture my relationships with classmates — taking a break to grab a few drinks was always a welcome segment in a busy week at Kellogg.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? I think the most important thing is to reflect deeply on your personal values — to understand what these mean to you and how they drive you to succeed. Also, recognizing your interpersonal working style is key. Kellogg puts a great emphasis on this, as team dynamics is a defining pillar of the MBA experience.

For me, it was being able to deliver a lasting impact on society and to drive this result through collaboration. I feel that understanding this helped me to better understand my strengths and weaknesses as a leader and to highlight these personal aspects in my essays and interviews.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I got an overseas work assignment in Singapore. I realized how moving out of my comfort zone handed the opportunity to learn and mature at an accelerated rate. Being out there in unfamiliar territory just opened my mind to absorb new ideas like a sponge.

I was also able to attend a Kellogg informational session at that time. I learned about the experience the Kellogg MBA program would offer and aspired to take the next step further out of my comfort zone — continuing my personal growth and learning more about the world.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working on an international strategy assignment at my previous company, ideally in an unfamiliar region like Europe or Africa. I have always cherished every opportunity to learn in unfamiliar places away from home, so I would have still continued to do that, even if not through an MBA.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Bill Gates. I really admire how he was able to question the status quo and passionately pursue his dream, eventually being a defining point in the history of technology and computing. Moreover, he still continues to impact our society with his philanthropic work. I admire that tenacity to challenge the world, while continuing to be grounded and making impactful contributions to society.

What are your long-term professional goals? My long-term goal is to spark positive economic and social impact in my home country, the Philippines. As one on of the emerging markets in Southeast Asia, there are many avenues for businesses to grow and, along with that, create opportunities to uplift the lives of my fellow countrymen.

Though I will be working in the U.S. after graduating from Kellogg, I see this as an ideal opportunity to equip myself with the skills necessary to make my impact.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I definitely want to thank my parents for all their support. They’ve been 100% behind me throughout my MBA application process and my time at business school. They even flew halfway around the world to help get me settled in at the start of my program. We talk weekly (often times more frequently) and they share in the ups and downs of my MBA experience.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m the beatboxer in Kellogg’s a cappella group, “The Bottom Line”

Favorite book: Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives

Favorite movie: The Matrix

Favorite musical performer: The Piano Guys

Favorite television show: “House of Cards”

Favorite vacation spot: Rome

Hobbies? Golf, basketball

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

“As an ’09 alum of the two-year program, I have a unique insight into the student experience and what it takes to successfully leverage an MBA to pivot your career and have a positive impact on your classmates. Dexter is quite simply one of the best students that I have had the pleasure of coaching. His positive outlook and hard-charging work ethic exemplifies the best of a Kellogg MBA. He is perpetually focused on improving himself and invites critical feedback in an effort to maximize the benefit of his MBA experience.

“In his first year, we partnered to construct his recruiting strategy to pivot his career into Investment Banking. His approach was simple: ‘I will do whatever it takes.’ He had no hesitation, absorbing feedback and applying it throughout recruiting. I joked with him in advance of his investment banking summer internship interviews that he had moved from Dexter 1.0 to 2.0. Due to his unrelenting approach and dedicated focus to preparation, he not only successfully landed a summer investment banking internship at his #1 firm, but also helped several classmates do so as well.

“After a successful summer, he received and accepted a full-time offer and will be returning to Bank of America upon graduation. This year, as co-president of the IBCM (Investment Banking Capital Markets) club, Dexter along with the rest of the leadership team have stepped up to continue the strong momentum toward finance at Kellogg. Due in large part to his strategic approach and effort, we have partnered to achieve a banner year (39% increase) in investment banking internship recruiting. He has been a great student to coach, an excellent co-leader of the IBCM and an exceedingly giving adviser and friend to his classmates.”

Joseph Patton ’09

Associate Director, Career Advising & Education

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management