2017 Best MBAs: Adam Maddock, Northwestern (Kellogg)

Adam Maddock

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“An even-keeled, detail-orientated, goal-driven, sarcasm-enthusiast and self-professed taco connoisseur.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Ellicott City, MD

Fun fact about yourself: While working at the White House, I met Desmond Howard and he invited me to come speak to the 2013 Michigan Football team about leadership and teamwork. As a lifelong fan, this was a dream come true.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland, BA in Communications

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? United States Marine Corps, White House Marine Corps Presidential Social Aide, Marine Corps Honor Guard D.C.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Microsoft, Seattle, WA

Where will you be working after graduation? T-Mobile, Leaders to Executives Rotational Leadership Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Student Admissions Committee Interviewer; Class Host for prospective students, Kellogg Worldwide Experience and Service Trip leader to the French Riviera 2016; Kellogg Veterans Association admissions committee, Have Dreams-Special Olympics Trainer & Volunteer; Kellogg Bootcamp Fitness Instructor; Kellogg Ski & Snowboard Club Logistics Committee; Section Intramural Captain

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Student Admissions Committee Interviewer. I think the hallmark of a successful organization is how it chooses the individuals that will make up the future of that organization. On the journey to becoming a Marine Officer, this responsibility was with a select group of senior Enlisted Marines whose job during Officer Boot Camp was to screen and select the individuals who would one day, as Officers, be in charge and lead them. It was their purpose to care for and protect the organization through careful recruitment. I take this aspect very seriously, and I consider it a great honor to help shape the future student body and act as a guardian of the Kellogg ethos and spirit.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Having the opportunity to teach, train and mentor young men over my seven years as a Marine Officer. From all the amazing experiences I have had – from working for President Obama at the White House to combat deployments overseas – there is nothing more humbling and goosebump-inducing than getting an email or call from one of my former Marines asking for a letter of recommendation for college, thanking me for putting in the extra time with them or calling to share news of a birth in their family. To bear witness to someone achieving the potential that they doubted — but that you always knew they had — is a powerful moment. I look forward to applying and refining this mindset of servant leadership post-business school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Ned Smith and Tim Calkins. I truly believe the professor’s job is to connect to students in a way that’s relevant and communicable so they can best transfer knowledge as well as foster an environment where discussion and debate can occur. I always anticipated gaining knowledge and applicable hard skills from my MBA courses. What I didn’t anticipate is how much of the teaching pedagogy and communication style I would learn and want to apply as well. Perhaps the most important skill for a leader is the ability to communicate and teach what they know effectively and with an open mind.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I really enjoyed the recruiting process. As an extreme career switcher, I came into business school very unclear about what I wanted to do post-MBA. Business school provided an environment to explore so many options during my two years. By nature of Kellogg’s vast recruiting footprint across the country, I got exposure to a wide variety of roles and functions across many different companies and geographies. For me, the recruiting process was as much about refining how to sell myself and continually evolve what I wanted to do, as it was having companies see if I was a good fit. My final tally was north of 65 total interviews over my two years and was a testament to an open mindset, determination and continuous assistance from my peers, career coach and family. I put a lot of time and sweat equity into the process and was fortunate to find amazing success with multiple internship and job offers to choose between.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? As an interviewer, I unfortunately see many candidates that clearly repeat the same cookie-cutter lines about why they want to go to XYZ business school and try to say things they think an interviewer wants to hear. More than anything else, Kellogg admires and respects the unique individual. Hearing about what makes you different, your passions, your quirks, your journey and how that connects to what makes Kellogg unique is the most powerful part of the interview. GMAT statistics, job titles and accolades are a part of the equation, but I can read those on a resume. Tell me about what makes you different.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I am not sure if this is a regret or just an unavoidable reality of business school, but there are so many high-quality classes that I wanted to take and so little time that I worry if I prioritized well enough.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw many of my peers get out of the military and go from leading units of 170 to roles where they had limited ability to influence and affect change. This was mainly due to their lack of business experience and knowledge. Thucydides is quoted with saying, “One man is much the same as another, and he is best if trained in the severest school.” Having the toughest training was always a pride of ours in the Marines and it prepared us with the skill sets and the confidence to overcome future adversity. I knew that I wanted to continue that by going to an extremely rigorous academic and socially diverse MBA program that would help prepare me in the same manner.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…either working in an operations-heavy or sales role or I would have become… a shepherd. Honestly, my paradigm shift since coming to Kellogg has been so vast, it is hard to think about what I would have done otherwise post-Marine Corps.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Ultimately, I want to be a part of something that I am proud to attach my name to and where I have the opportunity to lead incredibly passionate and smart people who care about the reach of their work outside the 9-5. Whether that lands me in the C-Suite or not, at the end of the day as long as I feel that I am creating value and I feel pride in what I do, I will be content.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Being that we are mainly products of our environment, I would be remiss not to mention my parents as the root of my success. You realize as you grow older that they are also people with flaws and they would be the first to admit the mistakes they made while raising four kids. However, it is exactly that humility and modesty coupled with a deep respect for people that has grounded my attitudes and behaviors as I careened through the uncertainties of my teens and adulthood. Additionally, as any leader who has had success knows, it is those that he works for and serves that are ultimately the real drivers of their success. I would be nowhere without the hard work, dedication, and personal sacrifice of the Marines I was so humble enough to work for and lead.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you: As someone who would be equally willing to stay late to work on a deadline with a classmate, as I would be to bail on it all together and go grab drinks with them instead.

Favorite book: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson-be prepared for a lesson in reality.

Favorite movie or television show: Movie: A River Runs Through It. TV show: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Favorite musical performer: Joshua Radin Favorite vacation spot: Highlands of Scotland

Hobbies: Hiking and camping, group fitness instructor, pretending to be good at the guitar, Mario Kart, taking my dog to the park to chase squirrels and Chicago Cubs baseball.

What made Adam such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Top students like Adam make a noticeably positive impact in class. I had Adam in my Marketing Strategy course and could consistently count on him to advance all class discussions. He was willing to bring up new ideas and approaches, encouraging the class to think broadly about business situations. I was impressed with his ability to identify the crux issue in a case. Adam was also a class ambassador, hosting prospective students. He answered questions, discussed Kellogg and welcomed visitors to the class.

Adam contributes to the Kellogg community in many other ways, too. He is a Kellogg Bootcamp fitness instructor, a Kellogg Worldwide Experience and Service Trip (KWEST) leader, and an active member of the Kellogg Veterans Association. A true leader, Adam’s intellect and enthusiasm make him an outstanding MBA student and valued part of Kellogg.”

Tim Calkins

Clinical Professor of Marketing

Kellogg School of Management


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