2016 MBAs To Watch: Will McGahan, Boston U. (Questrom)

Will McGahan-Boston U-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Will McGahan


Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Age: 30

Hometown: South Boston, MA

Undergraduate School and Degree: American University, BA Political Science

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? National League of Cities, Senior Marketing Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Liberty Mutual Insurance, Downstate New York Region (Travelling Role)

Where will you be working after graduation? Fidelity Investments, General Management Apprenticeship Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Cohort Cup (Inter-cohort Competition for Full-Time MBAs); President, Leadership and Organizational Transformation Club; Graduate Assistant in Graduate Admissions Office

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud to have had the opportunity to represent the Questrom School of Business at the premier Human Capital Case Competition in both my first and second years of business school. Having been selected by peers and faculty to demonstrate how our students excel when tackling many of the complex issues businesses are facing is an opportunity that I am honored to have received.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The last organization that I worked for had undergone a number of re-organization attempts, which brought in a new executive director. Even though I was a junior member of the staff, the new ED asked me to form a new department and build a team to serve the marketing needs of the organization.

Who is your favorite professor? I’ve taken three courses offered by Professor Paul McManus because he challenges me every class to really identify what the right business opportunity is for the case that we are discussing. Coming from industry, he brings a lot of personal experience and helps the class discussion get beyond traditional business school theory.

Favorite MBA Courses?

  • Corporate Strategies for Growth
  • Strategy Implementation
  • Asian Field Seminar

Why did you choose this business school? When I was applying to schools, I saw a lot of similar extracurricular activities that were planned by the faculty and administration with student input. Questrom had all of those same activities, but they were all student-driven with the assistance of the faculty and administration. When I thought about my two years, I wanted to add those go-getters to my personal and professional network.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Every day, I was excited to battle the crowds on public transportation to get to campus and work with my classmates to take what we were learning in the classroom and apply it to real-world situations. Whether it was for a case competition, a consulting project, or a club event, I loved working with a diverse group of people tackle a unique opportunity.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? I’ve learned how to connect a lot of dots. The Questrom curriculum and team-based projects are designed to challenge students to bring together lessons from each class they are taking. It is impossible to succeed if you only focus on one class at a time and don’t try and find connections between everything you are learning.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was nervous that after being out of school for so long that I was going to struggle to become a student again. I was surprised at how much my classmates wanted everyone to succeed and would put time aside to help each other.

What was the hardest part of business school? Business school is a very short two years and I wanted to get involved in as much as possible. I had trouble figuring out what opportunities I should be focusing on and what activities were just a little too much for me to take on.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself. Everyone in the community here is very genuine and they are a very good judge of who will succeed here. If you try too hard to be someone you think would fit in here, you’re really just doing a disservice to yourself. You want to be somewhere you belong. It will make your experience so much better.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I identified some opportunities at my last job but didn’t feel prepared to fully take advantage of them.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… still working in Washington, DC, focused on helping local governments build stronger communities.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Tony Hsieh understands the power that relationships can have on creating a more valuable experience. Whether it is by connecting directly with customers or by creating a workplace where employees can be themselves, he encourages people to embrace the human side of business.

What are your long-term professional goals? I hope I never have a good answer to this question. I like searching for opportunities that challenge me personally and professionally. I am excited about having an open field in front of me rather than a path that I have preset for myself.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Without a doubt, I would not have made it through business school without each and every one of my classmates. They challenged me to think in new ways and helped me when I struggled with unfamiliar concepts. Above all, they are amazing people and I will be friends with them for the rest of my life.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to 42 out of our 50 states, and I only count it if I’ve slept in the state.

Favorite book: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell

Favorite movie: Good Will Hunting

Favorite musical performer: Zac Brown Band

Favorite television show: “Rescue Me”

Favorite vacation spot: Aruba

Hobbies? Road trips, basketball, travelling with friends

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

“From his first weeks at Questrom, we saw tremendous leadership potential in Will. Early on, he became very involved in the students’ community-building Cohort Cup competition. Through his leadership roles, he has worked with the student body to enhance community and collaboration between first- and second-year students. Over time, Will has become a voice of the student body. He has worked closely with administration on orientation planning, admissions outreach, and other school initiatives. Through these efforts, he has thoughtfully provided feedback to staff about areas of improvement and has become one of our student liaisons who always shares feedback about the student experience. He sees the big picture and knows how to achieve his goals. Will has a positive outlook and is often volunteering to work with others in the school to bring about positive change. Despite his many successes in the classroom and with employers, he is incredibly humble and down to earth.”

J.P. Matychak

Associate Dean for Student Experience and Services

Emily Libby

Director of MBA Programs



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