The Stereotype-Defying MBAs In The Class of 2018

Kyle Collins

Kyle Collins

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Red-headed, coffee-loving Cuban American who is often mistaken for an extrovert

Hometown: Vero Beach, FL

Fun Fact About Yourself: Over the summer I spent a weekend filming interviews with my Cuban grandparents about the story of their journey from Cuba to the United States in January 1961, and I’m currently editing the footage to create a record of their experience.

Undergraduate School and Major:

University of Notre Dame

BS Mechanical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

2012-2014: Deloitte Consulting LLP, Business Technology Analyst

2014-2016: Deloitte Consulting LLP, Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While working at Deloitte, I had the opportunity to lead a 55-person team of on-shore and off-shore resources to deliver a large compliance project for my client, a regional bank. The project aligned with so many of the things that give me satisfaction on the job: a diverse and incredibly talented team, innovative applications of technology, and the opportunity to be a leader and manager in pursuit of solutions to challenging problems. The project’s success brought our client into compliance with Federal regulations while remaining well below the historic cost-per-customer of similar projects.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants? I always encourage anyone who is interested in applying to business schools to start visiting early on, even before starting the application process. School brochures and websites are great, but there is no substitute for the insight gained from being on campus while classes are in session, which can be a big help as you tailor your applications for each school. In addition, using campus visits to shape your list of target schools reduces the risk that you’ll waste time applying to a school that ultimately isn’t the right fit for you.

When it comes to studying for the GMAT (or GRE), take some time to think about how you learn best. For me, I knew that I needed an in-person class to stay engaged and to keep me accountable, so I worked with my team to develop a coverage schedule that let me leave work a little early on Mondays to make it to class on time. For you, this might mean a weekend online course, self-study, or one-on-one instruction. What is most important is being honest about what will work best for you, then making those short-term investments (both time and financial) to pursue that strategy as closely as possible.

Lastly, there is such a huge variety of metrics that can be used to assess which business school is “best,” but ultimately selecting a school to attend is a deeply personal decision. Rankings matter, but only up to a point: what’s most important is selecting a school that is going to support your personal and professional growth in a significant way.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I’ve always been a bit of a nerd, so the quality of my academic experience was really important to me, and Darden delivered in spades. The school places an incredibly strong emphasis on teaching quality, which came out in every conversation I had with professors. In addition, Darden’s extensive use of the case method ended up being a big selling point for me. Initially, I was actually somewhat skeptical; however, sitting in on a class quickly made me realize that no other format mimics real world business scenarios as effectively and encourages such energetic in-class discussions. Simply put, Darden felt like my intellectual home.

From a social and professional network perspective, let’s be clear: all of the top business schools cultivate incredibly diverse and vibrant communities, and Darden is no exception. What was different about my experience visiting Darden, though, was the speed with which I got past the simple “get to know you” questions and started diving into deeper and more meaningful conversations with current and prospective students that I had just met. This gave me the confidence to trust that my classmates at Darden would help me grow with integrity, learning from new points of view while also staying true to my own convictions.

Lastly, after living in Chicago for four years after graduation, I felt that there was something to be gained by being somewhere geographically different during my MBA, and Charlottesville is fantastic town for foodies, cocktail enthusiasts, and arts lovers alike. From world class restaurants, bars, and wineries to a bustling music scene, I’m looking forward to spending the next two years in C’Ville.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? Long term, I know that I will be most satisfied with a career that builds something lasting and good in the world. I also know that I’m energized by working with dynamic, cross-disciplinary teams and by developing and applying new technologies. I’m still working through what this will look like in the long-term. In the short-term, this means that I’ll be pursuing internship opportunities with small to mid-size technology firms, ideally ones that focus on developing products that broaden global access to financial services.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? My hope is that upon graduation, my classmates can look back on our two years together and point to clear ways that I made their experience at Darden more meaningful, valuable, and fun.

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