2017 MBAs To Watch: Jackie Vouthouris. MIT (Sloan)

Jackie Vouthouris

MIT, Sloan School of Management

“I strive to love deeply, live passionately, give generously, and make a positive impact on the world.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Denville, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: I studied abroad three times in undergrad (Seville, Spain; Rome, Italy; and Dubai, UAE)

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Finance, University of Maryland

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was the Program Director for Haitian operations at Executives Without Borders.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? GE Ventures; Houston, TX

Where will you be working after graduation? Corigin Ventures, New York

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Forte Fellowship
  • Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development project with Safi Organics in Kenya
  • Teaching Assistant for 3 Accounting courses
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club VP of Treks
  • Venture Capital and Innovation Conference speaker coordinator

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming from a finance and operations background, I didn’t have much exposure to edge technologies before starting at MIT. While at school, I’ve had an incredible opportunity to dive in, explore, and learn about new trends in this space. After developing an interest in the industrial internet and connected devices, I worked with Converge Venture Partners to help develop an investment thesis around this industry. Starting from a negligible background and learning about topics such as sensor intricacies, connectivity networks, neural nets and deep learning was really challenging at times, but also very exciting. After significant research, I developed a strong investment thesis around platforms, connectivity, and security, and was really proud of the end result looking back at how far I had come in my understanding of this field.  

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I started working in Haiti, there were three major companies in the plastics recycling space and the environment was extremely competitive. As the oil crisis hit and prices plummeted, it became clear that very few players would survive the downturn. I took this as an opportunity to invite collaboration and partnership where there had previously been animosity and steep competition. After building relationships with each of the companies, we were able to work together to create value for all parties through our newly formed partnerships.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I had the privilege of taking Management of Services with Zeynep Ton last year, and she really blew me away. Not only does she research and teach how to create value for customers, employees, and investors by designing smart operations and systems, but she really practices what she preaches. She lives her life in accordance with these values and is an admirable example for all of us. Zeynep really cares about her students and it shows in everything she does.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? The Introduction to Operations class at Sloan with Retsef Levi was incredible. Every day, I felt like I was leaving the classroom with a new operations revelation, and all of it is so highly applicable to all businesses. Things I will always carry with me are “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” “a little variability in your system goes a long way,” and Little’s Law has endless applications to reduce wait times and improve profitability.

Why did you choose this business school? Aside from the flexible course schedules and exposure to ground-breaking technology, what really sold me on Sloan was the people. As soon as I met my soon-to-be classmates, I immediately knew this was where I wanted to spend the next two years. My classmates are brilliant but so humble and truly care about making a difference in the world.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The thought leadership here has been incredible not only from what I’ve learned in class, but also outside of class. It’s been a privilege to sit with my classmates over dinner or drinks and listen to their experiences and views on everything from economic theories to the future of humanity.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I knew time management would be challenging with the endless opportunities presented to us, but I didn’t expect prioritization to be one of the biggest learning opportunities in business school, although it definitely has been.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Focus on quality of engagement and impact over quantity of listed projects or activities. It’s much more important to show passion and excellence in a few areas than mediocre involvement in many. Sloan is really about letting your passions and your true self shine, and that’s what matters most in the application. Don’t just write what you think Admissions wants to hear.

What is the biggest myth about your school? “MIT Sloan is only for engineers or people with quantitative backgrounds” is so false. We have a wonderfully diverse group of students coming from all types of prior experiences, and it really enriches the learning community for everyone.

What was your biggest regret in business school? For most of my life, I’ve tried to be superwoman and hide my imperfections. At Sloan, it’s about being honest with yourself and others, helping one other, and celebrating the diversity. I should have embraced this acceptance and shown my imperfections sooner.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Eva Breitenbach has been an incredible role model for our class. After working hard to receive an excellent job offer at a coveted firm, she chose to pass on this opportunity to start her own company. Eva’s personal conviction and willingness to embrace uncertainty to pursue her passions is so inspiring to all of us.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I started managing a team and realized how much there is to learn about exceptional leadership practices.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working on economic development in emerging markets.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?  With such a quick two-year class turnover, it is really hard to create consistency among clubs and initiatives. I would work to smooth out these transitions and try to make it a seamless experience across class years.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I intend to use a market-based approach to create jobs and improve livelihoods across the globe.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family has taught me so much through their continuous examples of love, hard work, ambition, and care for others. They have always been my biggest supporters throughout all my endeavors, and I would not be where I am today without them.

I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to my Sloan classmates for bringing their best to school every day and setting the bar so high through their conduct, compassion, and thought leadership.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? If you need me, I will always be here for you.

Favorite book: The Only Road North by my classmate and friend, Erik Mirandette

Favorite movie or television show: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Favorite musical performer: Grace Potter

Favorite vacation spot: Bali, Indonesia

Hobbies? Yoga, cooking for friends and family, reading non-fiction

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

“Jackie truly cares about the well-being and success of others and has proven this through her teaching assistantships, her interactions with classmates, and her work to help build up the community across different programs at MIT.”

Rodrigo Verdi
Associate Professor of Accounting
MIT Sloan

 

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: THE STORIES OF 100 EXTRAORDINARY GRADUATES FROM THE CLASS OF 2017