2017 Best MBAs: Jamen Kyle Miller, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Jamen Kyle Miller

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Dog-loving, family focused, loyal to friends, dedicated to others, patient, calm and resourceful.”

Age: 34

Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina

Fun fact about yourself: I rescue white German Shepherds. I’ve lived with up to 4 German Shepherds I was fostering at one time before moving to Chapel Hill.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

North Carolina State University – Bachelor of Science in Accounting (2004)

North Carolina State University – Masters of Accounting (2006)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

U.S. Army (2006-2015) – Company Commander (Managing Director equivalent) of a 120-person Military Intelligence Headquarters Company

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016?

Miller Enterprise LLC in Hickory, N.C. (Family-owned business with my brother started in 2013)

Where will you be working after graduation?

Clark Realty Capital, LLC – Real Estate Development Associate in Monterey, California

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • Vice President of Internal Operations, Enterprise and Venture Capital Club – Manage course pack operations, which produces $300,000 in annual revenues to support social entrepreneurship fellowships for first-year students during the summer.
  • Vice President of Training, UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Ambassadors – Primary trainer of a 200-student volunteer outreach effort to welcome and answer inquiries of prospective students applying to UNC Kenan-Flagler.
  • Campus Visit Program Coordinator, UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Admissions Office – Primary planner and scheduler for MBA Ambassador outreach efforts for the Campus Visit Program, welcoming more than 500 prospective students to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s campus annually.
  • Council Chair, Legacy Cup Competition – Primary planner and coordinator of 10 community events designed to build community and teamwork between the 8 Legacies (cohorts) within the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Program, incorporating 600 full-time MBA students.
  • Apprentice, Adam’s Apprenticeship – Participant in a 26-member entrepreneurial education program in which members participate in class instruction, special speaker events, professional development with the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, treks to New York City and San Francisco to meet successful startup companies, and a life-long mentor network within the Adam’s Apprenticeship Advisor Network. Since graduation, I am now part of the Adam’s Apprenticeship Advisor Network to give back to future Apprentice classes.
  • Career Mentor, UNC Kenan-Flagler Career Management Center – Mentor for 5 first-year MBA students providing advice and guidance on recruiting and networking for a summer internship job offer.
  • Team Leader, Startup Development Consulting #1 – Team Leader for a 4-person MBA team providing volunteer consulting services for a start-up dog training device company in conjunction with North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
  • Team Leader, Startup Development Consulting #2 – Team Leader for a 3-person MBA team providing volunteer consulting services for a start-up biomedical imaging company operating in Research Triangle Park, North

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As the vice president of operations for the UNC Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital (EVC) Club, I independently manage course pack operations that produce $300,000 in annual revenues to support social entrepreneurship fellowships for first-year students during the summer. The EVC Club’s Carolina Startup and Venture Fellowship assists MBA students wanting to spend their summer internships working with social entrepreneurial venture companies or non-profit organizations that cannot effectively compete on the basis of salaries with large public companies. The fellowship bridges the financial gap between what those companies can afford to meet the average salary a MBA student can make at a more traditional company. Since taking over course pack operations, the number of fellowships we could grant has doubled from 3 to a projected 6-7 this year.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I’m most proud of in my professional career is, without a doubt, leading 42 soldiers during a year-long combat deployment to Sadr City, Iraq, where we were able to have a positive impact on the local national population we were charged to protect. Through the combat patrols within the city and training efforts conducted with our Iraqi military counterparts, I feel we not only helped to improve the lives of those in our area, but grew together as a unit where we formed life-long friendships.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dave Roberts – Professor Roberts was exceptional at blending his past professional experiences with practical, functional lessons that were easily extended beyond the classroom. Given his involvement with instructing senior military leaders as part of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Executive MBA Programs, s, Professor Roberts and I would spend time after class speaking about various world events. Our conversations would also include techniques that ultimately helped me receive an employment offer from my top company.

Why did you choose this business school? Having served in the U.S. Army for nearly a decade, I had a strong desire to return to my home state. When I was accepted to UNC Kenan-Flagler, I knew it was the best fit to gain a quality business education to help transition into civilian life, spend more time with my family who still reside in western North Carolina, and return to a fast-growing and innovative community full of entrepreneurial energy and excitement.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I have enjoyed the freedom to explore all of my interests, especially those I didn’t realize I had, until starting business school. UNC Kenan-Flagler has been supportive of my non-traditional approach to career exploration, especially my decision to pursue summer opportunities with my family business.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The passion and excitement I felt from every professor was the most surprising aspect of business school for me. My previous graduate degree program experience was marked by a technical curriculum that was rarely intellectually stimulating or inspiring. However, UNC Kenan-Flagler professors, from core classes to electives, are so invested in their fields of expertise that there has not been one class I have not personally enjoyed or professionally benefitted from attending.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The only piece of advice that matters is to be yourself. UNC Kenan-Flagler’s community values diversity in all aspects. Comfort in being yourself will resonate strongest with interviewers and students alike. In addition, understanding that everyone in our business school lives up to our core values of excellence, leadership, integrity, community and teamwork is important while moving through the admissions process.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about UNC before arriving was that everyone, from professors to undergraduate students, was that UNC basketball would always be a point of conversation. And after arriving, I learned that is mostly true. Although UNC is far more involved in academics and the arts, during basketball season, it will always permeate the conversation.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Given the freedom to explore all of my interests, I transitioned out of the real estate concentration after my first semester. Now that I’ve accepted an offer with a real estate developer, I’m taking classes that would have already been completed if I had maintained my course. Although it is my biggest regret, my resolve to pursue a career in real estate may never have been as strong as it is now.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Timothy Ryan, a fellow second-year classmate who was my counterpart in Tillman Legacy. Tim has an absolutely contagious sense of selfless service and will go far out of his way to help anyone and everyone. The relationships he has formed with peers, faculty and staff alike have created synergies that will leave a positive mark on UNC Kenan-Flagler. One of his most notable activist efforts was to raise awareness of the solid waste produced in the McColl Building and lobby to create more recycling opportunities. Tim will be successful in life regardless of his path post-business school.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized my future military leadership positions would place me in administrative support roles away from the ability to have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of soldiers and their families, and that my professional interests had shifted to real estate.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…completing my 11th year in the U.S. Army, advancing to the end of a 20-year career without having known any other opportunities outside of military service.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? As dean for a day, I would institute more interaction, through networking and classroom instruction, with other students in the MBA@UNC and Executive MBA Programs at UNC Kenan-Flagler. There is a vast wealth of knowledge and potential relationships in each MBA program that is never leveraged. With the global business environment becoming ever more geographically distanced, the virtual nature of those interactions would only strengthen the core communication skills expected of graduating MBA students.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate, long-term professional goal is to establish my own real estate company, where I can build an investment portfolio to support my efforts to provide homes to dogs in need nationally.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I am most thankful for Wayne Riggins, a former U.S. Army Colonel who was instrumental in my decision to join the military. Wayne has always been a positive force in my life, and a sounding board for when I reached crossroads in both my personal and professional lives. I can recall a particular conversation early in my considerations for joining the military, and a decision on whether to start my career as an Enlisted Soldier or Commissioned Officer. The conversation centered around where I could have the most positive and wide-ranging impact to help others. Since then, I’ve always tried to put others at the center of my decision-making process, and have been more satisfied in my life as a result. In addition, Wayne is one of the most well-respected and intelligent individuals I know, and is a person who I want to emulate. He spends a significant amount of his time promoting socially just public policies in our state and local government, as well as mentoring young adults in how to make other positive impacts in the community.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a peer who could be trusted to put the welfare of others before his own, and who would always step up when needed.

Favorite book: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Favorite movie or television show: Movie – Life as a House

Favorite musical performer: Lady Gaga (notably her acoustic songs)

Favorite vacation spot: Dubrovnik, Croatia, or Cinque Terra, Italy…both are amazing!

Hobbies? My favorite hobby is outdoor walks with my partner and 2 “boys.” We have a white German Shepherd and Boxer/Shar Pei dog. Otherwise, I spend what time I have not devoted to school, extracurricular activities or my family business pursuits reading, cooking or running.

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

Jamen Miller is a man of service – to his country as a veteran and to his UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA and Chapel Hill communities.

He proudly served his country as part of the U.S. Army for nine years, where he was a member of both the Infantry and Intelligence Corps. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Army Commendation Medal with Valor for his actions while deployed. Jamen continues to serve in a leadership role in intelligence through the North Carolina National Guard.

Throughout his entire MBA experience, Jamen has been dedicated to excellence and serving the UNC Kenan-Flagler community in various leadership roles.

  • As a first-year student, he frequently came to greet prospective students and share aspects of his UNC Kenan-Flagler experience. In his second year, he is serving as the vice president of training for the MBA Ambassadors Club, a program focused on welcoming MBA applicants to campus and sharing key program information. Jamen also took on the role of coordinator of the Admissions Office’s Campus Visit Program. He coordinates all of the MBA Ambassador volunteers who greet applicants, provides tours and takes them to classes and lunch.
  • He chaired the Legacy Cup, a way for students to network over monthly friendly competitions that range from kickball to trivia to karaoke, and plans 10 annual events for all first- and second-year students to enjoy. He stepped up to this role when there was a need and because he genuinely cares about helping make his classmates’ MBA experience the best that it can be and enhance their ability to create long-lasting bonds with one another.
  • Jamen made an impact this year in his leadership role in the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club by growing its fundraising efforts by $20,000 from the prior year. As a former entrepreneur – he founded a family retail restaurant business – he shared best practices with classmates looking to start companies.
  • He was one of 13 MBA students who recently graduate from the Adams Apprenticeship, a 12-month comprehensive program that includes entrepreneurship coursework, networking events and exposure to successful entrepreneurs.
  • Jamen served as a Career Mentor, providing five first-year students with individual guidance on the various stages of their internship searches.
  • In the greater Chapel Hill community, he often goes early in the morning to donate blood and platelets for those in need.

Jamen often makes statements that inspire people to want to be better, such as, “focus on the positives not on what is wrong or doesn’t work” or “leave things better than how you found them” and “don’t just lead a project to keep the heart beating or to sustain it, but make an impact and create growth.” Jamen lives by these statements every day and serves as an inspiration for applicants, his classmates, faculty and staff.”

Meghan Kelley Gosk,

Associate Director, Career Consulting, Career & Leadership for MBA & Alumni