2016 MBAs To Watch: Justin Jones, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

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Justin Jones

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Age: 30

Hometown: Ashtabula, OH

Undergraduate School and Degree: Maranatha Baptist University, B.S., Humanities

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? AMCAD, Senior Business Analyst, Internal Strategy

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Ernst & Young (Dallas)

Where will you be working after graduation? Ernst & Young, Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School

  • Kenneth R. Meyer Fellow
  • Dean Woo Leadership Award Recipient
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • SVP of Committees, MBA Association
  • MBA Meals on Wheels Coordinator
  • Faith Development Committee
  • Values Committee
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Consulting Club
  • SavvyWomen Campaign founding member

Which academic or extracurricular achievements are you most proud of during business school? In my first year, I and another classmate founded a project to bring MBAs together to work in Haiti with Economic Growth Initiative coaching and running a business plan competition for Haitian entrepreneurs. I’m also currently in the final stages of a semester-long project as part of the school’s Business on the Frontlines program, partnered with World Vision, to address human trafficking and child prostitution in the Philippines. I’m proud to apply business acumen and strategy to seriously address social issues.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It would be simply delivering good work on time. One project, in particular, required overcoming extreme resource, logistics, personnel, and relationship challenges. The satisfaction I felt when it was approved has become the benchmark for what I look for in my work.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Viva Bartkus requires both creativity and serious analysis in her courses while demonstrating a remarkable balance between challenging growth and encouraging strengths.

Favorite MBA Courses? Business on the Frontlines, Strategic Cost Management, Innovation and Design, Marketing Analytics, Problem Solving

Why did you choose this business school? Its smaller size and curriculum flexibility, combined with academic rigor and close network, provided the exact mix I needed to develop both as a professional and a person.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The energy of being surrounded by capable people who were looking both to learn and to accomplish things created an atmosphere where I was challenged by both peers and faculty to grow personally and professionally.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? To learn the “rules” of how business works — and then to break them when the right opportunity comes along.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Realizing how much simply being human is at the core of the systems and organizations that appear monolithic and impenetrable.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time management. There are too many opportunities for any one person to take advantage of. We just call it “opportunity cost” in B-school instead of FOMO.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Own your experience — don’t wait for someone to hand you the next great thing. Go make it happen.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when… on a trip to Thailand, I learned girls who entered the commercial sex industry are heroes because they don’t have other opportunities to provide for their families. I wanted to learn how to provide other opportunities.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… trying to eke out a living with advanced degrees in philosophy, most likely.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I love John Mackey’s determination and creativity to combine a personal interest and broad social vision into a highly successful and impactful organization.

What are your long-term professional goals? I see myself doing consulting for the long-term, ideally in the strategy of social enterprise or development.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents never let me believe I could do less than succeed when I worked hard enough. I also want to thank the many professors who have invested in me and that core group of close friends I’ve collected over the years who recognize and polish both my strengths and my weaknesses.

Fun fact about yourself: I seriously considered pursuing a career in improv comedy.

Favorite book: A Light to the Nations (Michael Goheen)

Favorite movie: The Fall (Tarsem Singh)

Favorite musical performer: Jack Johnson

Favorite television show: “The West Wing”

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere I can get good coffee I haven’t tried yet

Hobbies? Travel, music, reading, running

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

“Justin has displayed first-rate intellect and creativity in problem-solving, emotional maturity and leadership among his colleagues. Further, his character and commitment to his teams have enabled him to perform well in a demanding environment. He presents a truly unique combination of talents: creativity and pragmatism, leadership among his peers, and commitment to getting to the solution despite difficulties.

“As a retired former partner of McKinsey & Company, I can spot talent. I taught Justin in two MBA courses at the University of Notre Dame. The first was a rigorous problem-solving course involving the use of client cases from my own 10 years of professional experience. Its emphasis was around diagnosing the problem from multiple symptoms, disaggregating the problem into issues, and then driving to practical solutions. Justin thrived in such an environment. His team’s solutions to a range of problems involving product launch, market entry, game theory, and microeconomics revealed tenacity in data gathering, subtle understanding of the main issues, and creativity in driving to solutions.

“In addition to possessing a first-rate mind, Justin is also a natural leader. He acts like a catalyst, bringing the best out of his teammates. From my observation, he accomplishes this in two ways: First, by asking insightful questions; and second, by patiently listening to his teammates to get to good ideas. His team developed stronger answers as the term progressed, as Justin took over its leadership.

“Further, Justin has the stamina needed to wrestle down even the toughest problems and grapple with complex business and ethical issues. On our last client case in class — a competitive bid strategy for a major multi-year customer contract in an oligopoly situation — Justin led his team in market assessment, competitor profiling, and an analysis of the client’s capabilities in order to judge what sort of solution they could indeed implement. Under heavy questioning by my senior colleagues who came to Notre Dame to judge the case, Justin withstood the questions and presented a compelling case for the recommendations.

“Finally, what distinguished Justin from the many other talented graduate students is his tremendous insight and emotional maturity on a range of challenges. He applied to and was successfully admitted into my other class, ‘Business on the Frontlines,’ which is dedicated to exploring the role of business in rebuilding war-torn societies. In addition to coursework on development economics, politics, philosophy and international relations, during which Justin displayed his uniquely versatile grasp of diverse issues, the course requires an in-country field study in the Philippines.

“Justin naturally rose to the lead the team of three Notre Dame MBA students and three graduate law students in interviewing businessmen, civic and religious leaders, journalists, professors, and others on their unique perspectives on the possible approaches to the prevention of human trafficking and rehabilitation of those who suffered trafficking in the slums of Manila and in Mindanao. Indeed, I specifically chose Justin for this team, fully expecting him to become my right hand; I depended on his organizational abilities to complete the field work successfully, and to make recommendations for new programs to our partners in country.

“Justin was a pleasure to have in class and in the field.”

Viva Bartkus

Associate Professor of Management

Mendoza College of Business



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