2017 MBAs To Watch: Leah Elizabeth Wetzel, University of Wisconsin

Leah Elizabeth Wetzel

University of Wisconsin School of Business

“Dynamic, vivacious, savvy – Leah is unwilling to settle for the status quo, challenging herself to do more.”

Age: 28

Hometown: Waukesha, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: When I was a child, my mother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, “An elephant.” Even though I did not achieve my dreams, the life I live is a good alternative.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Wisconsin – Stout

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Thomson Reuters, IT Business Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Intuit Inc., Mountain View, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Intuit Inc., Product Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Treasurer, Graduate Business Association

Entrepreneurship Fellow, Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During the 2nd year of my MBA, I had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate operations course. Each Friday, I teach roughly 100 students. Ironically, public speaking is not my strong suit. My voice trembled slightly when I taught the practice lesson for my interview. When I got the offer, I was somewhat shocked, not to mention nervous that I would now have to do this with a live audience each week. Over the course of the semester, my students embraced my love of operations and mathematics, laughed at my nerdy puns, and helped me overcome my fear of public speaking (while I helped them overcome their fear of Z-Scores and Little’s Law). Seeing my students grow from being intimidated by the material to mastering inventory control policies was truly inspiring; I am proud and yet humbled to have shared in their success.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my professional career, I am most proud of my involvement on a cross-functional team that developed Thomson Reuters’ flagship mobile trading solution, Thomson ONE Anywhere, and the next generation order entry suite. Serving as a liaison between members of the back-office and user interface teams, I influenced the end-to-end redesign of the product, breaking organizational barriers in the process. I challenged myself to learn new technologies and collaborate with customers in creative ways to develop the best product possible. These products are now used by over 60,000 financial advisors to process approximately one third of all trades executed on the New York Stock Exchange. This experience brought to light my passion for technology product management and inspired me to pursue a role as a product manager post-MBA.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jan Heide, Marketing – Jan’s energy and enthusiasm during class make his highly engaging. Jan is also known for his memorable cases, which have served as valuable reminders of marketing concepts throughout my MBA career and will no doubt serve me well in the future. Lastly, each year Jan encourages his students to participate in the Polar Plunge, a charity event where participants fundraise to jump into ice cold water in support of Special Olympics of Wisconsin. His generosity and dedication to this organization are admirable – he even lists the event on his syllabus!

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Business Strategy with Hart Posen – The biggest insight I gained from this course was what ‘strategy’ really means. In a business context, the word ‘strategy’ is often employed as a buzzword and misused. Hart Posen’s Business Strategy course taught me how to identify problems and opportunities, understand value capture, and analyze internal and external factors that contribute to sustainable competitive advantage. This course undoubtedly had the greatest impact on my understanding of business and my confidence as a business professional.

Why did you choose this business school? The full-time MBA at the Wisconsin School of Business offers a unique specialization model which allowed me to focus on my post-MBA career aspirations while gaining a strong foundation in business. Additionally, the full-time MBA program at Wisconsin School of Business has approximately 100 students per year, fostering a close-knit community and personal relationships with the alumni network. On, Wisconsin!

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I most enjoyed the global course trips I took in both the first and second year of my MBA. Looking towards graduation, I could not be more satisfied with my decision to embark to Chile and Vietnam. There were encounters with culture, tradition, and cuisine that I will remember forever and it was an opportunity like no other to learn and grow. This course also involved an international consulting project which challenged me to apply my coursework to provide strategic recommendations in a foreign business environment. Additionally, I am grateful for the friendships I made while traveling with my classmates, many of which were perfect strangers just a few months prior. The memories we made in country will last a lifetime.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? How quickly time flies!  When deciding to go back to school for an MBA, two years sounds like a long time, but goes by incredibly fast – make the most of it!

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be passionate about your specialization and know what your post-MBA aspirations are. Think critically about how you will contribute to the learning environment and how the Wisconsin MBA and your specialization will help you achieve your goals. Also, try cheese curds when you are in town for a campus visit or interview!

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: Rubbing the left foot of Abe Lincoln perched atop Bascom Hill will bring you luck.

I have performed well on exams and experienced many Badger wins after a visit to Abe’s Statue – it is worth a shot.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret in business school was not maximizing my time with some of my classmates. Although I built strong relationships early on with those in my cohort and within my year, I wish I had made a concentrated and proactive effort to seek out those who I did not share classes, specializations, or social circles with.  After getting to know these individuals over the summer and in my second year, I cannot help but wonder whether I missed out on good times with them simply because I had not introduced myself until later in the term.  However, I am incredibly thankful for the relationships I have formed with each of my classmates and look forward to what the future has in store for us.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jessie Wright– Jessie is dedicated, articulate, quick-witted, and always exploring course content at a deeper level. Over and above class work, Jessie is involved in several extracurricular activities and rarely misses MBA gatherings – from intramural volleyball to community events and the symphony, Jessie is sure to make an appearance with a spring in her step and a smile on her face. During our time in the MBA, I have gained a great deal of respect for her and am happy to have her as a part of my network.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was serving as the internship program coordinator and mentoring interns at my previous job. Making small talk, I always asked the interns if they knew what they wanted to do when they graduated or in the long-term. One day, one of my mentees turned the tables, asking me what I wanted to do next. I pondered…I always enjoyed thinking strategically, solving problems, and working with customers, but had little formal education in business. I wanted to further my leadership skills, expose myself to diverse perspectives, and expand my knowledge of business. Ultimately, I felt that business school would provide me the challenge essential to inspire this personal growth.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…applying for an LLM program specializing in Information Technology Law. Perhaps I will in a few years.”

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 implement a service learning component of the MBA. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to attend business school. While many MBAs offer their time throughout the year, I feel it is important that each of us offer our talents to a local non-profit or charitable organization through a capstone or consulting project. This would offer benefits to students and organizations alike while strengthening the ties between the Wisconsin School of Business and the greater Madison community.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to become the Chief Innovation Officer at a company within the financial technology industry.  I feel that financial technology offers an interesting and unique set of challenges. Coupled with the fast-paced and ever evolving nature of this industry, I am confident this will keep me interested as I progress through my career.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My friends and family, for your unwavering support in life and on this journey. Ms. Louthan, my high school Calculus teacher, who encouraged my love of Mathematics. Professor Nancy Flyen and Dr. Seth Dutter, my undergraduate mentors, who motivated me to apply to grad school. Lastly, Tim Serwe, my manager, mentor, and writer of my letter of recommendation (Thanks, Tim!).

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone who was always willing to lend a hand, but more importantly, I hope my peers keep this in mind as we look towards the future. Once a Badger, Always a Badger!

Favorite book: The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff

Favorite movie or television show: The Office

Favorite musical performer: Florence + The Machine

Favorite vacation spot: The Wetzel lake cottage, which has been in the family for over 100 years.

Hobbies? Cooking & Baking, Hiking, Card Games, Traveling

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

“Leah Wetzel has been an outstanding member of the Wisconsin FT MBA, Class of 2017. From the time she arrived to campus, as part of our New Admit student weekend, Leah demonstrated an innate curiosity and enthusiasm to embrace her MBA studies.

Leah has been a student in the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management where she has maintained a 3.78 cumulative GPA while also being extremely involved in leadership development opportunities. She served as the treasurer for the Graduate Business Association, the umbrella organization for all 19 MBA student organizations and actively volunteered to serve as a student ambassador for the MBA Admissions team.

Additionally, Leah has participated in two MBA global courses to Santiago, Chile and Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. This past January, she served as the team lead on a consulting project for GE Healthcare in Vietnam. The GE team was so pleased with the results that they intend to generate additional projects for the global course next year.

Leah has accepted an offer with Intuit in Mountain View, CA.”

Mark Matosian, Ph.D.

Director, MBA Student Services

Wisconsin School of Business- University of Wisconsin-Madison



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.