2017 Best MBAs: Conn Q. Davis, Washington University (Olin)

Conn Q. Davis

Washington University, Olin Business School

“Father, Husband, Recovering Lawyer, and Aspiring Management Consultant.”

Age: 35

Hometown: East Prairie, MO

Fun fact about yourself: My senior year in high school I never came out of a football game – I played every snap on offense, defense and special teams.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Southeast Missouri State University, Bachelor’s Degree; DePaul University College of Law, Juris Doctor

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Jenkins & Kling, P.C., Senior Associate Attorney

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Bain & Company, Dallas, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (1) President, Olin Strategy and Consulting Association; (2) Graduate Fellow, Senior Project Lead, and Team Lead, Olin Center for Experiential Learning; (3) Student Marshall, Olin Business School Top Graduating Student; (4) Peer Advisor; (5) Olin Ambassador; (6) Beta Gamma Sigma; (7) Knight Scholar; (8) Board Member, Tiger Club St. Louis.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being selected as a Graduate Fellow and Senior Project Lead for Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) clearly tops the list. The CEL is a program at Olin that puts students in actual consulting projects with companies across the world. In this position, I have worked directly with Olin’s student leaders and advised them on leading teams and working with clients. The ability to impact multiple projects and work with and mentor the amazing students at Olin has been a rewarding experience for me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the result I achieved for a client in the first case I completely handled on my own as an attorney. This was a win or go out of business case for the client, and the first time I had to completely own case strategy, hearings, negotiations, and the client relationship without partner oversight. Successfully handling every aspect of the case, achieving a complete recovery for my client, and developing an enduring client relationship for my firm were very rewarding at an early point in my career.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Tom Fields. He taught the accounting classes in Olin’s core curriculum, and I was not overly interested in accounting. Somehow, Tom made the subject interesting and enjoyable to me. I learned a lot about accounting, and I even took an accounting elective course – taught by Tom.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite MBA Course was the core Introduction to Management and Strategy taught by Prof. Dan Elfenbein. I learned two key things in this class – (1) that I truly enjoyed working through business issues and (2) that having the right answer to a business question is less important than understanding what the answer means for the business.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Olin because its smaller class size gave me the opportunity to get to know everyone in the school. I have developed great relationships with my classmates and with the students in the class before and after me. I have also gotten to know and developed relationships beyond the classroom with many of my professors. The close-knit community at Olin is unique and very valuable.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Learning from my peers. Olin has a student body with diverse educational, professional, and personal backgrounds. Interacting with my classmates and learning from them has been the most enjoyable part about business school. The Olin Wine Club’s Taste of Sonoma event is a close second.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The level of collaboration and support between students surprised me. Coming from a legal background and having gone through a more competitive experience in law school, it was refreshing to see my classmates genuinely supporting each other academically and professionally – even if they were going after the same opportunities.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Smile and be yourself! Olin is a friendly, welcoming school and values students that share its values. During the application process, be authentic and you will put your best foot forward.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is not pursuing the entrepreneurship opportunities that Olin provides. Olin is plugged into the entrepreneurship community in St. Louis and provides students with many opportunities to engage with founders and investors. I would have been worthwhile to spend more time engaging with and learning about that community.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Tony Nuber. Tony is an active duty U.S. Army officer, full time MBA candidate, and a father to two great little boys. He has impressed me with his work ethic, and his commitment to community involvement. In addition to his roles as a soldier, husband, father, and student, Tony has gotten involved in extracurricular activities at Olin and has joined the board of a local non-profit through Olin’s United Way Board Fellows Program.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw how much happier my wife, also a recovering lawyer, was at her new job after she finished her MBA. Her experience taught me that there were opportunities I did not know were available.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wishing I had. Making the choice to give up my career as a lawyer was not easy, but I was generally unhappy in the law. I know I would have regretted not taking the chance by going to business school.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would put a larger emphasis on making sure every MBA student received an experiential learning opportunity while in school. Currently, these are optional programs, but they are invaluable experiences and each student should take advantage while they are in the program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My summer experience at Bain was eye-opening and, overall, an amazing experience. Bain and the unbelievably talented people I worked with taught me that there is so much to learn about business post-MBA, and I can certainly see myself staying at Bain for the next twenty years. However, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say with certainty what I want to be when I grow up. Instead, my goal is to constantly learn new things and push myself to develop new skills; if I can do that, I will consider my career a success.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? This is an easy answer – my wife. She has been my constant support, companion, and personal cheerleader throughout my professional career. Without her, I would not be where I am today.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as a good friend who was always willing to help out when needed, fun to grab a drink with, and always willing to share a smile.

Favorite book: Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

Favorite movie or television show: Casablanca

Favorite musical performer: The Rolling Stones

Favorite vacation spot: Grand Cayman (great beach)

Hobbies? Reading, travel, and playing on the floor with my daughter

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

“Conn Davis loves to describe himself as a “recovering lawyer.” I have the feeling he was, and likely would have continued to be, one heck of a lawyer. I certainly would have wanted him in my corner.  But the MBA program has redirected his talent and energy – now I suspect he is going to be one heck of a consultant. What makes Conn all the more admired in our community is that he is equally one heck of a student, a colleague, a friend, a father, a husband…a person. It has been our pleasure to have Conn as part of the Olin Nation.”

Joseph P. Fox
Associate Dean and Director of Graduate Programs

DON’T MISS: THE COMPLETE HONOR ROLL: BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS OF 2017