2017 MBAs To Watch: Brad Miller, University of Illinois

Brad B. Miller

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Motivational coach and leader with an extensive background in problem solving and strategic guidance.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Winslow, Arizona

Fun fact about yourself: I once purchased a dugout canoe, travelled down-river in the Ecuadorian Amazon for 10 days. Also, I’ve been struck by lightning.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brigham Young University – Bachelor’s (BA) in Linguistics and Master’s (MA) Linguistics; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – Master’s (MA) in Linguistics, Master’s (MBA) in Business, and PhD in Linguistics.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Teaching Assistant (ESL Program)
  • Marketing & Business Development Intern (University of Illinois Research Park)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Procter & Gamble, Associate Human Resources Manager, North American Talent Supply

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: MBA Dean’s Fellow (Graduate College of Business), Student Academic Advisory Council (MBA), List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent (2013-2015), Volunteer Ecclesiastical Leader (President of Sunday School for 10 churches in East-central Illinois within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Volunteer Leadership Certificate Coach (Illinois Leadership Certificate Program), Scouting Merit Badge Instructor (Boy Scouts of America); President of Linguistics Student Organization; Survey Training Instructor (Illinois Business Consulting)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Last year, the MBA Administration recognized the need to rewrite the existing MBA Creed. I conducted the necessary research and rewrote the creed to reflect who we are as Illinois MBA students and what we are known for. I take pride in knowing that this new creed will impact the students in the program for many years.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was a first year graduate student at BYU, I applied for and received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, which included three years of funding for my graduate research.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jeffrey Joewenstein. Jeff really helped me and my classmates understand the value of negotiating for a win-win situation. Negotiations aren’t about beating someone down; it’s about maximizing the value earned by everyone involved.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Organizational Theory and Design. I realized that while organizations have their own ways of measuring employee value, what matters most is how you decide to measure yourself as a part of that organization.

Why did you choose this business school? Illinois offered a great business school education that I could do jointly with my Linguistics education.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Getting to know my fellow classmates has been the greatest joy of this experience. I love learning from a wide range of people with different backgrounds and career trajectories. I feel it has been an honor and privilege getting to know people who will be leaders in a very short time.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How intense it was with the workload. I had been in graduate school for five years prior, and thought I knew what a tough workload could be, until I joined the MBA program.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Show that you care about others and feel a sense of joy in seeing others succeed. Illinois is all about collaboration, teamwork, and family (in addition to the academic excellence that comes standard here).

What is the biggest myth about your school? That the school is surrounded by corn fields. It’s true, but it’s actually quite nice. Also, having the largest engineering program in the nation (in terms of number of students) helps make it a GREAT place for interdisciplinary studies.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had the time to take more classes on data analytics and statistics. You can’t succeed in today’s market without at least a basic understanding of both.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Lucas Frye. Lucas is brilliant and had a wonderful idea. Instead of waiting until school was over to go achieve it, he went out and started a company and telecommuted in for class from China. I don’t know how he has done everything he has done, but I believe he is the best example of what being an Illinois MBA means to me.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that it would be the best way to apply my academic training to the real world.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a professor in a linguistics department somewhere.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would encourage students to help each other more in their career searches. We each have networks and connections that are beneficial to others. If I could just help the students see that the job search should not be approached with a scarcity mentality.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would like to become an executive coach, helping executives improve themselves to maximize their potential.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I feel that every good idea or thing I have done has come because my amazing wife inspired me to do it. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for her loving support throughout some very difficult years.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I like to think that I will be remembered as the guy who made others better by being around him.

Favorite book: Les Miserables

Favorite movie or television show: Finding Forrester, BBC’s Sherlock

Favorite musical performer: Hans Zimmer

Favorite vacation spot: I like most places – I’m sure I’ll find my favorite someday

Hobbies? Working with my hands (construction and woodworking), reading self-improvement books, riding my road bike, learning about history.

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

“In all that he does, Brad Miller has a can-do attitude and is willing to put in the work that it takes to get the job done. Specifically:

  • Brad took part in analyzing the MBA student experience and feedback data and shared the results with some of our key stakeholders (alumni, advisory board, staff). While in the past, this has turned into a complaint session, Brad identified the key strengths of the program and found constructive and positive ways and ideas on how to improve certain aspects. Brad comes with solutions, not just problems.
  • Brad has been the prime example of what you get out depends on what you put in. Brad’s example has a halo effect on his classmates, proving that they can also find success if they put in the good work.
  • Brad’s time working at the Research Park left a good impression of the value of hiring MBA students to help them in their programs/activities
  • Brad has been involved in helping us grow our network of companies in China for our Global Immersion program. He is helping organize a trip to visit key contacts in China to set up clients for the following year, even though he will have graduated by then and won’t personally/directly benefit from his own work.
  • Brad has been a key player in Illinois Business Consulting. While not an MBA program, many MBA students participate in IBC, and their experience in IBC is a part of their overall Illinois MBA experience. Brad voluntarily taught survey design classes for IBC members to help them on their projects. Brad’s work with an IBC team led to a key study that is regularly cited, showing that IBC members make more in their starting salaries and get promoted faster in their jobs than their peers. This data did not exist before, and Brad played a critical role in bringing this about.

Overall, Brad is not only self-driven, but others-oriented and lifts those around him.”

Andrew Allen, Director

Illinois Business Consulting



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