2016 MBAs To Watch: Laura McWhirter, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

LAURA MCWHIRTER-Notre Dame-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Laura McWhirter


University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Age: 27

Hometown: Unionville, Ontario

Undergraduate School and Degree: Carleton University, Bachelor of Commerce Concentrating in Operations Management and Marketing

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Deloitte Consulting, Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? I am enrolled in the one-year MBA program in which we do not have an internship.

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Corporate Ambassador, Business Analytics Club Leadership, Teachers Assistant for the Executive MBA Introduction to Marketing course

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I had the privilege to assist Professor Joseph Urbany with the redesign of the Executive MBA Intro to Marketing course. Being involved in improving the learning experience for current and future business leaders was very rewarding.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Securing my dream-job, in my dream-city.  

Who is your favorite professor? Ken Kelley, who taught Advanced Statistical Inference in a way that really drove interest and sparked critical thought. He made stats exciting!

Favorite MBA Courses? Judgment, Mergers & Acquisitions, Equity Valuation

Why did you choose this business school? Mendoza’s One-Year MBA program at Notre Dame was one of the few U.S.-based programs I had my eye on. I was looking for a program which would provide me an exceptional academic experience, the ability to customize my learning experience through unique experiences, and a strong, international alumni network.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I have to say it is the diversity of experiences which are available to us. Within a few months, I’ve had the opportunity to have lunch with a retired three-star general, visit start-up and global companies in Brazil, go horseback-riding through the Andes, hear the chief editor of the Wall Street Journal share some thoughts on politics, watch Notre Dame’s football team beat USC and much, much more! Notre Dame truly provides a well-rounded MBA experience.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The number of doors that it opens for you and your career. I knew it would be a great opportunity, but the relationships it has allowed me to build have surpassed my expectations.

What was the hardest part of business school? Selecting which of the many opportunities available on campus to get involved with. Similar to consulting, the MBA is like being at a candy store with hundreds of different flavors (or activities) to try, but as a wise colleague once warned, “If you eat too much you’ll get a stomach ache.” As someone who loves to get involved and say “yes” when asked to help out, managing the right balance of school, work, fitness and social commitments is often something I’ve got my mind on.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? There are certain points in life which are natural points of reflection. If you let it, this journey can serve as a true opportunity to explore who you are, what your interests are, and what you want out of life. I encourage applicants to be open to learning about themselves as they think through their past experiences while writing their application essays and to maintain this open-mindedness throughout their degree.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I found myself at a tipping point in my career. I was working in a niche area of human capital consulting and had built a strong brand for myself with my firm. Looking to branch out into projects more related to my previous education in operations management and strategy, I realized that an MBA was the most effective way for me to make this transition. Also, given the increasing cross-border nature of business in North America, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to get experience and build my professional network in the United States.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… continuing my career in consulting with Deloitte. International experience was a top priority for me so I would likely be on secondment in Australia or one of our other international locations at the moment!”

What are your long-term professional goals? My long-term career ambitions are to be a partner in a consulting firm. I love the relationship-driven nature of the industry, the diversity of work and intellectual stimulation which this career path provides. I am thrilled to be continuing on this path at McKinsey this fall.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? No doubt, I have to thank my parents who provided me the gift of my education along with an abundance of love and support. I’ve also been lucky enough to work alongside some great managers who over time turned into mentors and friends. One in particular, Greg Hedgecoe, has been instrumental in helping me think through many major decisions and is the person I give credit to sparking my initial interest in an MBA!

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been whitewater rafting in three different countries.

Favorite book: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult — I’m a sucker for a tear-jerker

Favorite movie: It’s a toss-up between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Blind Side

Favorite musical performer: I desperately want to see Bastille perform live, but in the meantime — Bon Iver, their performance gave me goosebumps!

Favorite television show: Modern Family — others come and go, but this one is always good

Favorite vacation spot: Anywhere with mountains and an abundance of outdoor activities — Switzerland and Chile currently top the list.

Hobbies? Fitness (currently in the form of CrossFit), recreational sports (golf, softball, Ultimate Frisbee, Dragonboat racing, and more), and travel.

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

“One of Laura McWhirter’s most distinctive qualities is her inquisitive mind. From campus classrooms to presentations during our international immersion in South America, Laura has shown the thoughtfulness and insight to think of great questions to ask of the various professors, guest speakers, and fellow classmates. She also has a sincere desire to learn more about things she is not necessarily familiar with, and therefore is not afraid to ask a question or challenge a statement.

“Additionally, Laura helped spearhead an end-of-summer outdoor social event for her one-year MBA classmates at the end of their intensive 10-week summer term — the first I have witnessed during my time at Mendoza. The effort was typical of her thoughtfulness, sense of community, and ability to recognize the importance of social activities to enhance student life at Notre Dame.

“I’m confident that Laura’s academic achievement and natural curiosity, coupled with her assertiveness and sense of social community, will serve her well after graduation.”

Andrew Wendelborn

Assistant Director of Graduate Business Programs Student Services

Mendoza College of Business




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