2017 MBAs To Watch: Brad deBorde, University of Florida (Hough)

Brad deBorde

University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Business

Avid supply chain engineer and athlete who thrives off giving back and making an impact!”

Age: 25

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Fun fact about yourself: I competed in the 2012 and 2016 US Olympic Swimming Team Trials.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Florida, Industrial & Systems Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

PepsiCo: Supply Chain / Operations Future Leader Intern

Philips Healthcare: Supply Chain Resource Intern

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? This past summer I interned in St. Louis with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am headed back to St. Louis and Anheuser-Busch InBev, where I’m serving as a Strategic Sourcing Manager on their Procurement team.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Vice President of External Affairs & Outreach, MBA Association. In this role, I connected our program with some other graduate programs at Florida for networking and volunteering purposes. My team hosted several volunteering events for many causes like Relay for Life and Toys for Tots, and made strong connections between UF MBA and the Engineering, Law, Medical and Veterinary programs.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In August 2015 as I began my MBA studies, I also began training again for the 2016 US Olympic Trials. Resuming a 20+ hour per week training regimen in addition to the new challenges of graduate school necessitated huge investment to regain my aerobic fitness and strength while re-sharpening my mental edge. Each week required extensive planning with my coaches to fit in pool and gym time around variable group projects, job applications and interviews, career development events and conferences. This year was a challenging one for me, stretching my time-management and work ethic to new heights. Nevertheless, I am thankful that I pursued both the MBA and my training ambitions, as I think I excel when I’m busy. Leaving Trials, I raced my hardest and earned my best finish at Trials to date.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? This past summer at ABI, I got to experience the agile culture first-hand with one of my major projects, which investigated ways to draw further value from within the product life cycle, specifically with one of the byproducts created when we brew beer. It both scratched my engineering itch by getting to work on such a technical project and challenged my newly-developed financial and marketing acumen. After just 10 weeks, my team made many discoveries and uncovered some huge opportunities! It was a really invigorating project and I’m glad I got to contribute.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Gwen Lee, who taught our Strategic Management course. As she introduced herself in the first lecture, I was amazed at the diversity in her background and education. With a Ph.D. in Business Administration from UC-Berkeley, M.S. and B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering from MIT and careers at INSEAD, P&G and A.T. Kearney, her breadth of knowledge and experience grounded the cases we’d study and discuss in real world context. She facilitated broad-spanning discussion and seemed to be always curious, always striving to learn.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was Capital Structure & Risk Management Issues, taught by James Parrino. This class incorporates a ton of material that was new for me, including advanced financial forecasting, valuation, and (as the title suggests) the ins-and-outs of capital structure and risk management. Parrino pressed our class each lecture to contribute, challenge assumptions, and iterate off given examples. It’s one of the most rewarding learning experiences I have had.

Why did you choose this business school? When I decided to pursue an MBA, I first focused on universities that have strong technical pedigrees. While some MBA candidates use the degree to change career paths, I wanted a program and curriculum that could dovetail with my engineering background and amplify my awareness of the business world. As an engineer, I wanted a program that had proven success in educating and placing other engineers. The University of Florida fit the bill exactly.

Thanks to Hough’s close partnership with the College of Engineering, I had an avenue right out of school to balance my technical skillset with business acumen. This unique relationship made the opportunity possible for me, however the combination of UF’s other offerings really sealed the deal. In particular, UF’s Career Services team, full of experienced corporate recruiters from a wide variety of industries, is hyper focused on finding roles that both suit each individual candidate’s strengths and allow for growth in new ways. The size and selectivity of UF’s class was also appealing. My cohort has 31 students in it, which means that over these last several months I’ve been able to not only make lasting relationships with my classmates, but also benefit from an unparalleled amount of 1:1 time with our career coaches, professors, and academic advisors. All in all, the ROI presented at UF quickly outweighed other programs.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The most enjoyable part about b-school at UF has been the diversity shown among my cohort. Across our ~120 full-time students, everyone has their own story, experiences, future path. It’s been a great place to network, hear new war stories, and make new friends.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? The most surprising aspect about b-school has been the different velocities at which we learn material. Any given day’s lectures can run the gamut from meticulously-paced analysis of business law or financial modeling to fluid multidimensional analysis of business cases. The curriculum simultaneously stretches different parts of your brain and keeps you on your toes.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? UF’s program is small by design. Through the application process and interviews, be yourself. The program coordinators and career services staff vet candidates against difficult criteria, but ultimately one’s best value proposition to the program is their own perspective, personality, and purpose.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Some of my friends at other business schools say they are skeptical about our raves about our career services. As I was applying to schools, I too was unsure that it could live up to the testimonies of the current students I’d spoken with. “There was simply no way that someone who didn’t know me could find the perfect job for me and empower me with skills to get me there,” I thought. Well, add my story as evidence to the claim. The career services here dedicate unparalleled 1:1 time with each of us to find catered jobs in cities we prefer for companies we couldn’t have plausibly entertained working for previously. Believe it.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret has been my constrained schedule, which precludes me from more involvement in our interest clubs. Each of our clubs brings value with their informational or social events, and I wish I had a double so I could experience all that they offer.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question. As when I was training competitively in my undergrad, I draw inspiration from those around me in several ways. My philosophy is that you can learn something from anyone you come across.

I found that to be true in one of the first friends I made in the MBA program when I met Jon Coatoam. Jon is not a typical MBA candidate¾if there is such a thing. Jon is one of the most experienced in our cohort, with a background in large construction project management in Ohio and Florida. He also is married and has two adorable young girls (ages 5 and 3), who he brings to some football games and social functions. When I joined the MBA program as an engineering partnership student, Jon and I seemed to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. I was single, fresh out of school, and had work experience that was entirely different from his. Yet, at the first social function, Jon and I spoke for hours. As an athlete and engineer, I am a big proponent in the merits of goal-making, and Jon had some of the most clear-cut goals backed by ambition and focus I’d ever seen. As the conversation developed, our on-paper differences fell to the wayside: Jon was also a student-athlete and a hard worker who enjoyed learning every day and chose to invest in himself for the future. As we approach graduation in a few months, this fire and conscientiousness hasn’t quelled. While Jon’s known in our cohort for his wit, dry humor and ability to make and navigate mind-numbing financial models, I admire my friend most for his motivation, drive, thoughtfulness, and eloquence.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I learned that I could continue to grow my passion for supply chain management by adding onto my engineering skillset while opening myriad doors to industry.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in CPG as a process engineer.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I were dean for a day, I would add a mandate for volunteerism tied to scholarship disbursement. Giving back is an important cause that each party benefits from and many organizations (big and small) can use an extra set of hands.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? They say each sports team needs a “signature win” to solidify itself in memory…I think that’s a strong analog to my personal long-term goal. I challenge myself to dream big and enjoy the visibility and accountability of consumer products demand constant vigilance. Since I’ll be working in the CPG supply chain world, I want to be able to go to any store around the world, find my product on the shelves, and be totally responsible for its proliferation.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d most like to thank my parents for instilling in me a tireless tenacity to persevere early on. I am a very mental guy, and this mindset pushed me to succeed in engineering and swimming at the highest level, in demanding projects in the work place, and in my MBA education and beyond. I have learned to take out stock in myself and believe in myself.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I’d like to be remembered as a hard-working leader and caring friend.

Favorite book: The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

Favorite movie or television show: Favorite movies have to be Harry Potter. I grew up reading the series and the movies have a special spot in my heart.

Favorite musical performer: Kanye West

Favorite vacation spot: Anna Maria Island, FL

Hobbies? I love to workout. In particular, I have been swimming consistently since I was 5 years old. I feel very comfortable training in the water, lounging poolside, or swimming casually to clear my head.

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

“Awe-inspiring is the only adjective that can adequately describe Brad deBorde’s work ethic and commitment. As soon as we started working with Brad, we knew he was going to be a special addition to the UF MBA community as he announced right away that he would be training throughout his first year for the 2016 Summer Olympics. We expected Brad to be a bit of a ghost in the program given his rigorous training schedule. However, Brad does not know the meaning of halfway and within weeks of beginning the program, he was selected by 2nd year MBAs and staff to act as the Vice President of our MBA Association. Brad’s role was to create and deliver programming to engage our graduate business students and the surrounding Gainesville community. In his role, Brad successfully built a strong team and set a clear vision for performance, continuing to balance academics, his job search, student involvement, and training for the Olympics. Not only did Brad achieve balance, he succeeded wildly in each endeavor achieving outstanding grades, implementing the “Cash Flow for Kids” program to teach finance principles to elementary school children, securing a coveted internship with Anheuser-Busch InBev, and posting a personal best during the Olympic trials.

Brad continued his commitment to the program this past year as an MBA Career Coach, providing interview preparation and training to other MBA students. His patient, kind, and encouraging demeanor resulted in him being one of the most sought after peer coaches.”

Jason Rife

Associate Director, MBA Career Services



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