2017 MBAs To Watch: Tiffany Smith, Northwestern (Kellogg)

Tiffany Smith

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Always looking for an opportunity to make the world a better place.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Fun fact about yourself: For a brief period of time, I was a state-ranked racquetball player in Florida.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Howard University, Bachelor of Architecture

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Deloitte, Engineering and Construction Consultant

Prior: Clark Construction, Project Engineer

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Bank of America, Public Finance Investment Banking

Where will you be working after graduation? Working on own startup, Tiltas, a web-based platform that aims to provide the formerly incarcerated with an online community to support their transition back into society

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Zell Fellow, Youn Impact Scholar, Panel Lead for Kellogg on Growth Conference, Founding Member of MBAsOpenUp, along with several others

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Working on my startup has definitely been the thing I am most proud of getting off the ground while in business school. Kellogg has afforded me numerous opportunities to refine my concept through courses such as New Venture Launch taught by Karin O’Connor and most recently through programming associated with the Zell Fellows. The Director of Social Impact, Megan Kashner, has also been a tremendous resource since she arrived at Kellogg and has built out the social impact space at Kellogg for students like myself. It has been tremendously helpful to have supportive Professors, Peers, and fellow Entrepreneurs on the journey to getting a venture off of the ground.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Working on the dormitories at my alma mater while at Clark Construction was definitely a highlight of my pre-business school career. I was a part of the team that helped get the project started on the operations side and helped with operations onsite for a good portion of time on the project.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Daniel Martin – he opened my eyes to realizing that business school is more than just what is in the classroom. You should think about all of the different spaces that are within a business school and attempt to find where you can make the most of your two years. It could be any combination of classes, extracurricular, or leadership opportunities.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Entrepreneurial Digital Marketing with Troy Henikoff. I was completely unaware of the formula behind search engine optimization and all tools related to building an online presence for a start-up. It was an extremely insightful class taught by an actual practitioner.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to be at a place where I felt challenged personally and professionally. My classmates are some of the smartest people I have ever met and they are also humble, down-to-earth, and always ready to support a fellow Kellogg student. I noticed it during my admit weekend and made my decision solely off of the people that I met.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? It has been a really reflective time for me personally as I outline the next steps for myself over the next 12-18 months. Having two years to really dig deep into rigorous coursework and also explore social settings I am completely not used to has been very beneficial. It has been a stretch experience to say the least.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Professors are extremely open and warm to students. They make themselves wholly and completely available to help with things that fall outside of the realm of their traditional roles as professors. This has been one of the most valuable things I have taken from my experience at Kellogg.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Think about how you can contribute to the school becoming a better place for the next person after you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Kellogg has a very extroverted culture based on what you read online and see on blogs but there really is another side to Kellogg that I have come to understand and really appreciate. There are people who balance between extrovert and introvert, or maybe even are totally introverted, that are also apart of the fabric of Kellogg and to me what makes it such a special place.

What was your biggest regret in business school? As an extroverted, yet slightly introverted, person, I sometimes struggled to decide which events would be the best use of my time. In many instances, I simply opted out because I couldn’t find a good enough reason for me to attend that would distract me from working on things that I really cared about. But what I have realized now is that those settings are the most valuable

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire a lot of my classmates. It would be hard to pick just one.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I got into Management Leadership for Tomorrow and witnessed the legacy that the organization created.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on a hiatus from working traveling the world in some fashion.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? There is beauty in having only two years in most MBA programs but it comes at the detriment of sometimes not having enough touch points with students one-on-one. If I were a dean for a day I would implement a bi-weekly lunch event for students to chat with me one-on-one in restaurants or settings that were relatively informal.

 What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? In recent months, I have evaluated the possibility of running for public office, but for now I am focused on getting a venture capital fund started that would support minority entrepreneurs working on start-ups and small businesses.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mom. She is the definition of hard work and taught me at a very early age that you really have to work hard for what you need. As a single parent, she did everything in her power to make sure I was fully taken care of no matter what, and her character is what I seek to emulate every day.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Committed to things that were greater than herself, always.

Favorite book: The Alchemist

Favorite movie or television show: Black Mirror

Favorite musical performer: Machel Montano

Favorite vacation spot: New Orleans, LA

Hobbies? Long-boarding, writing on medium, organizing events!

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

“When I think about Tiffany Smith, the first word that comes to mind is “fierce.” Tiffany took my New Venture Launch class in Fall 2016, bringing her start-up, Tiltas, and her passion and commitment to matching returning citizens (i.e. ex-offenders) with solid job opportunities. Throughout the course of the quarter and since, I have watched Tiffany tackle challenges — initial resistance on the part of employers, creating a viable revenue model–head on. If something isn’t working, she pushes to find out “why” and then figures out how to fix it. She is fearless about reaching out for coaching, connections and resources and is thoughtful when seeking and receiving advice. Mission is always at the top of Tiffany’s mind–she carries the photos and profiles of her first six clients with her at all times–a reminder of the real people whose lives she is seeking to impact. Tiffany is someone you want to have on your side. I’m excited to have worked with her and am confident that she will make her mark on this world.”

Karin O’Connor

Clinical Assistant Professor



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