2017 MBAs To Watch: Craig Schaefer, University of Florida (Hough)

Craig Schaefer

University of Florida, Hough Graduate School of Business

“Dedicated individual determined to become a better leader while helping others achieve success.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia

Fun fact about yourself: As a child, I was mainstreamed into deaf classes to learn sign language. This afforded me the opportunity to become better at communicating with my deaf brothers.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Naval Academy, General Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? US Navy, Nuclear Submarine Officer on the USS Henry M. Jackson

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I was unable to complete an internship due to still being active duty Navy. Concurrent with my MBA, I am a Professor of Naval Science at the University of Florida NROTC teaching Naval Engineering and Weapons.

Where will you be working after graduation? T-Mobile, Leaders to Executive Program, Senior Emerging Leader Program Associate

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

  • NROTC Freshman Mentor/Tutor
  • MBA Career Coach
  • Military Veteran Career Fair Organizer
  • Submarine Club Officer
  • Honor Flight Volunteer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a career coach, I had the opportunity to help first-year students improve their interviewing and networking skills. Teaching has a net positive effect on both the student and the teacher. I really enjoyed seeing my peers improve at a critical skill, and I, in turn, became better myself. I specifically appreciated working with fellow veterans as I could more easily help them translate the skills they developed while serving into marketable skills that the business world needs. Making the transition from the military is daunting at times and making this process easier for other made this experience worthwhile.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Earning my Submarine Warfare Pin, commonly called Dolphins, is the highest professional achievement of my career. This pin is earned through three years of endless tests, study, and practice. It is presented to you after the Captain and crew trust you to operate the boat.  he best part about this achievement was the numerous Officer and Enlisted personnel that supported me in my development. I was humbled by the incredible knowledge of others and their ability to patiently allow me to learn from them. The Submarine fleet has a special bond and this is one of the reasons why.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Philip Podsakoff. Phil, as he likes to be called, fostered some of the most interesting discussions I have ever had about leadership. He structured his leadership class around the classic basketball movie Hoosiers. The different characters in the film served as our base for discussing different leadership theories and techniques. Phil’s ability to bring high-level theory to an everyday application is rare and his dedication to teaching was unparalleled. I looked forward to attending his classes and appreciate the personal relationship he developed with each of his students.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Game Theory. I appreciate any course that forces me to stretch my mind and understand complex ideas. Game theory required me to combine my technical engineering background with my newfound business knowledge to understand how to make ideal solutions. Understanding Nash equilibriums, prisoners dilemmas, zero-sum games, sequential games, and other game theory topics have helped me to view business decisions in a different way. Learning to look forward and reason back along with considering other people’s choices are essential to doing well in game theory and business.

Why did you choose this business school? The University of Florida has been able to differentiate itself from other MBA programs through its small class sizes and a personal approach. This has allowed to it to rise in the MBA ranks and ultimately attracted me to the program. It parallels for me my recruiting process to play football at the Naval Academy. In the ten years prior to 2004, Navy’s team was mediocre. I joined the team in 2006 and got to experience the rise of one of the most successful Navy Football teams to date. I feel the exact same way about the University of Florida’s MBA program. The program is on a fantastic path, and I am proud to be a part of that development.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Without question, my classmates were the best part about business school. They were a diverse group of individuals from around the world who consistently pushed me to work at a higher level. I enjoyed getting to work with different classmates on various projects because each of them had something to contribute to the team. The University of Florida is doing an excellent job attracting talent to this program and it showed during my time here.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you?The most important part about business school is the academics. A close second is finding a job that you want. As with most students, I decided to get my MBA to advance my career and get a new job. I was surprised to find the process of finding a new job to be a job in itself. Interviews, elevator pitches, networking, and company research can be taxing paralleled with a full-time MBA program. With that said, it is important to keep in mind why you came back to school: to get a great education and to find a job.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? A high undergraduate GPA and GMAT are always a good start. After that, it is extremely important to diversify yourself. Something I found refreshing was that everyone in my cohort brought something different to the table. While working before you get your MBA, continue to work on an area that will make you different and help you stand out. This can include a wide range of subjects including finance, accounting, computer skills, public speaking, leadership and other various subjects. Master that subject so you can bring it to the table.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The University of Florida is a sports school. I won’t refute the University of Florida is a great sports school, but in reality, the University of Florida is a nerd school.  And I say nerd in a positive way. It is difficult to get into and has extremely smart individuals that work hard. I’ve enjoyed meeting people from the diverse community here and find it refreshing that academics are just as important as sports.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not taking more risks. During my first year, I was reluctant to take risks when it came to projects, case competitions, and other business events. I eventually learned to take these risks, but I wish I had taken them earlier. There is no better place to fail then at business school so you should take as many risks as you can. Experiment with public speaking, join multiple clubs, sign up for events that you will be uncomfortable at. These experiences led to the most personal growth I had at business school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jon Coatom – Full-time MBAs with a wife and kids are a minority at the University of Florida and I suspect around the country. I fall into this category and personally understand how difficult it can be to balance these priorities. Jon not only completed this task dutifully but did so long distance. For his family, it made more sense for them to stay where their home is and have Jon commute from his Gainesville apartment on weekends. I never heard Jon complain about this situation, and even more impressive, Jon always delivered the highest quality work.  As one of the older classmates, he became a great mentor to me and my class. For all these reasons I admire Jon the most.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… a mentor described the benefits of getting a graduate business degree that would help with the transition from the military to corporate America.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…serving in America’s finest service- The US Submarine Force.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? At the University of Florida, we are fortunate to have multiple graduate business degrees. As an MBA student, the chance to interact with other business students is limited due to different coursework, and I believe a valuable opportunity is missed by not interacting with these various business degrees. They are going to be the individuals we will be interacting with in various capacities at companies we go to. As the dean, I would foster co-mingling of different business graduate degrees to help improve our business network.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Professionally, I would like to work towards an executive position where strategic decisions I make have a profound positive impact on the company.  More important than this position is the leadership wake I leave in my climb to higher management.  For the individuals I lead, I hope to foster their potential and help them develop into leaders with strong moral character.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Much of my professional development can be attributed to one of my submarine department heads, Benjamin Cordray. In the three years onboard my boat, he taught me multiple lessons about leadership, humility, and hard work. It is through his guidance that I was able to have a successful career as a submarine officer. He eventually led me to pursue my MBA which has been a catalyst for beginning a new career in the corporate world. It is for all these reasons that I would like to thank him for so much of my success.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a likable individual that would go out of his way to help anyone who needs it.

Favorite book: Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

Favorite movie or television show: Good Will Hunting

Favorite musical performer: Garth Brooks

Favorite vacation spot: London, England






Mountain Climbing


Intramural Sports


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

“Despite having undoubtedly one of the busiest lives of any student in the program, one could seldom attend a UF MBA event without running into Craig Schaefer. Serving as an active-duty Naval Officer and becoming a new father during his studies did not prevent Craig from being engaged with his peers outside the classroom. The focus and self-discipline Craig developed from his time as a linebacker at the U.S. Naval Academy and standing watch on a nuclear submarine became an example to his classmates. He always found a way to be there and truly immersed himself in any event or extracurricular programming UF MBA offered.

Craig’s easy-going and approachable manner made him an excellent Career Coach as he assisted his fellow UF MBA’s with sharpening their interview skills. He always maintained a positive attitude and provided actionable feedback with a healthy dose of encouragement to his peers that supplied them with confidence during their hunts for jobs and internships. He made a tangible positive impact on numerous lives during his time here, and he will certainly be missed.

Recruiters quickly identified the value that Craig could bring to their organizations as a potential future leader, and he was highly sought after. T-Mobile’s L2E program won him over, and we’re all confident that he is going to be tremendously successful in his new role.”

Jason Rife

Associate Director, MBA Career Services



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