2017 Best MBAs: Jay Russell, Indiana (Kelley)

Jay Russell

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Someone who doesn’t want too many finish lines because the journey is better.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

Fun fact about yourself: I am a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honor given by the Governor to a private citizen in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Centre College, BS Financial Economics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Burns & Wilcox, Commercial Broker & Underwriter

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Axiom Consulting Partners, Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? Axiom Consulting Partners, Chicago, IL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: MBA Class President, Editor and Founder of the Kelley Case Book, Consulting Academy Project (Gant Travel Client), Winner of Deloitte Team Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Having the opportunity to lead and represent my Kelley classmates as our class president

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The impact I made on my students when I was teaching in Xingyang, China. The cultural exchange we had and what we learned from each other cannot be replicated from textbooks or language videos.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? John Wisneski

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Developing Strategic Capabilities. The classic frameworks we learned helped serve as the foundation for original frameworks we created based on the real businesses we worked with and included our personal creativity and style.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted a school where the students had as much influence on the program and its results as faculty, staff, alumni, etc. There is a sense of true ownership at Kelley from everyone involved and that spirit drives people to give their best and expect the best from each other.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Hands down, it is my classmates. During an orientation session with our entire class, our admissions director, Jim Holman, listed off some of the most interesting facts about our classmates. There were Olympic athletes, business owners, world record holders, world travelers and true renaissance people in my class. I looked around and asked myself, “What am I doing here?” The best part about all that is that none of those impressive prior accolades mattered once we started at Kelley together. We all became a cohesive group of people striving for each other’s new successes as much as our own.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The access to world renowned people, places and companies, even from Bloomington, Indiana Our professors, faculty, staff, administrators and deans are leading academic scholars known around the world. The access to global projects, travel opportunities and traditional cultures was eye-opening. It was also encouraging, as a job seeker, to see the number of innovative and award-winning companies we partnered with both on and off campus through on-campus networking nights, company visits in various cities and live projects.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Think about what it means to you to be part of something that is bigger than yourself and your individual goals. Ask yourself, how do you fit into a unique place like Kelley and make it a better place after you leave?

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Aditya (Adi) Mengi

Adi embodies the things I admire most about Kelley as an institution and I believe that Adi has expanded upon the values that we adhere to at Kelley. Coming to an unfamiliar place like Bloomington, IN, Adi has taken full advantage of his experience at Kelley with the odds stacked against him from the start. Being an international student, the employment options due to visa status are always a challenge and Adi took on those challenges in the highly competitive management consulting space and succeeded tremendously. Adi is quiet about his successes, but proud to be a part of the Kelley community. Whether it’s doing mock cases with classmates, making unique contributions to group projects or embracing all of the foreign concepts of American social culture, Adi does all of this with a smile and genuine care for his classmates. Cheers to you, Adi!

 I knew I wanted to go to business school when…from the time I was a toddler when I roamed around Emory’s campus in Atlanta with my Dad while he was in business school, I’ve always known I wanted to go back to school. The educational process of developing my business acumen through learning theory and applying it in practical settings is an enjoyable process for me. Appreciating the personal growth I experienced during undergrad, I knew there would be a similar transformation in business school and Kelley was a perfect fit for me to experience that next chapter of growth.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…designing commercial insurance policies and programs for an insurance company or brokerage firm and spending my free time giving back to educational programs in Chicago.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would integrate collaborative projects with other business schools where we could learn from experiences our MBA peers are having at their schools and practice a team-based project with peers outside of the halls of Kelley.  

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? It would be to be an expert in my chosen function or industry of choice; run a foundation or non-profit organization to give back to education causes; and to keep learning and stay active.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My Grandparents. Both sets of my grandparents came from humble backgrounds and their success and ultimately our extended family’s success comes from their hard work and abundance of love. I would not have the special opportunity to dream of business school without standing on the foundation they built for our family. Their ability to make me feel loved and supported while teaching me the values of humility and respect have pushed me to achieve more than they had the opportunity to achieve.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who genuinely cared about each and every one of my classmates and who would do anything to help them achieve their unique dreams.

Favorite book: Three Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson

Favorite movie or television show: The Newsroom

Favorite musical performer: Justin Timberlake

Favorite vacation spot: Tuscany, Italy

Hobbies? Golf, running, bourbon exploration, cooking

What makes Jay such an invaluable member of the Class of 2017?

“I had the opportunity to work with Jay Russell throughout his time at Kelley including in his role as student body president, as well as on a student consulting trip to Vietnam. He is an outstanding young leader who seeks to serve everyone he interacts with. As President, Jay and his team drove a “Pay it Forward” vision that really embraced the Kelley Culture which they inherited, but also built upon it in a way that was unique to their strengths as a team. Jay took the time to ensure the student communications channels were robust across students and administrators, which created a more robust relationship. Jay was never afraid to lead by example, no matter how uncomfortable the task. One of my favorite moments was watching Jay and his leadership team jump into the action on our Kelley Cultural Night, participating in a traditional Indian dance routine and setting a high bar for student involvement – and they absolutely rocked it! Jay also drove a culture of caring, finding unique ways that Kelley Students could express appreciation for other another. Many students want to leave a legacy that will live beyond their tenure at the school – Jay has successfully done just that. Kelley is a better place for Jay being here.”

Ray Luther

Executive Director, Kelley Center for Coaching Excellence and Personal Leadership



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