BLOOMINGTON: “A PLACE WHERE YOU ARE WELCOME”
This may seem counterintuitive to some applicants, who wonder if off-the-beaten-track Bloomington can compete with more urban programs. Jay Russell, a 2017 Best-and-Brightest MBA, found the opposite to be true. “No matter where the talent is, the best firms will find it and recruit at those places,” he argues. “Our alumni network is enormous and there are so many top-ranked programs within the larger umbrella of Kelley School of Business that the prestige, track record and level of human capital speaks for itself.”
Even more, Russell adds, MBA students are hardly stuck in Bloomington. “Not only do the largest and most innovative companies come to campus, Kelley students get out of Bloomington a lot, traveling around the world for consulting projects, company visits, case competitions and alumni meetings. Kelley places no restrictions on where you want your recruiting goals to take you.”
Not that anyone is clamoring to leave Bloomington, home to January’s “Week of Chocolate” and May’s Little 500 bike race. “Bloomington is a very vibrant town with over 350 restaurants, a robust performing arts scene, a rich sports culture, and beautiful natural scenery,” points out Erica Smith, a 2017 MBA To Watch. “There is a vibe about Bloomington and Kelley that brings you back,” adds Rebecca Cook, executive director of the full-time MBA program. “It is a place where you are welcome.”
CULTURE MADE THE PROGRAM “CLICK” FOR ONE STUDENT
“Welcome” is one word used by alumni like Cook to describe Kelley. “Tight knit,” family,” and “supportive” are others. It was this spirit – a collegial environment where classmates root for each other – that first garnered the Class of 2019’s attention. Impressive academics initially attracted Lindsay to visit Bloomington for an Experience Weekend. However, he found the culture – “warm, unassuming, collaborative, and driven” – was what made the program “click” for him.
“I wanted the peace of mind to know that my wife and 2-year-old son would feel comfortable in whichever place we ended up,” he shares. Right from the beginning , it became abundantly clear that this was the place. Kelley has a very active partners’ club and a Kelley Kids club. The members of those clubs reached out and were very influential in helping my wife feel comfortable.”
What’s more, Lindsay found the perfect balance between academics, community, and family time. “Kelley’s class size is large enough to have diverse opinions and experiences but small enough to feel personal,” he adds. “Additionally, the faculty understand that people have lives outside of work and integrate that with every opportunity.”
ALUMNI CAN COME BACK FOR COACHING
However, the trademark of the Kelley MBA is undoubtedly coaching. It is the code that establishes the school’s unique identity, housing its history, driving its growth, and guiding its operations. Get ready for a program that gets very personal – as in nearly 100 hours of one-on-one coaching. Think of it as a coaching commitment usually reserved for the c-suite, with students receiving feedback from a dedicated career coach, an academy director in their field, and a second year MBA student. It is a model designed to accelerate student development by building on strengths, pinpointing weak areas, and engaging in regular practice. At its core, the program is meant to make students a bit uncomfortable. In other words, coaches ask the questions most students duck and hold them accountable for following through on their career plans – all with a patient measure, reassuring words, and an unwavering support.
“We want them to not only look at their career while at Kelley, but also look at their life,” Cook explains. “What are you here for and what do you really want to do with your life? It’s designed to drive them to a vision and understanding of purpose of why are they spending two years out of their life in getting their MBA.”
And the Kelley coaching culture comes with a little-known perk, adds Cook. “They can always come back in the sense that we have lifetime career coaching.”
KELLEY DEVOTING MORE RESOURCES TO COACHING
The school has also continued to invest heavily in coaching. Recently, the career services coaches and academic advisors completed over 250 hours of class training, live coaching, and oral and written exams to become certified by the two leading coaching governing bodies – a first among MBA programs, according to Cook.
“We have spent the past several years focusing on coaching and getting the majority of our career services and student services staff executive coach certified,” Cook explains. “We completed this process this past spring, with all of our coaches now certified through both CTI (the Coaches Training Institute) and ICF (International Coaching Federation). This is important as we now can provide top notch coaching to our students on everything from careers to academics to life.”
According to the 2017 student survey conducted by The Economist, Kelley houses one of the top career services center in the world. Despite the accolades, the program plans to double down to make its student coaching an even bigger differentiator.
“Building on the coaching theme, we are now piloting the Kelley Personal Leadership Coaching program,” Cook reveals. “This program will provide full time MBA students with a comprehensive coaching experience that starts with Me, Inc. and continues throughout the student’s 21 months in the MBA program. The coach will work with their student throughout the two years on developing skills and addressing topics of interest or concern in a range of areas. Student will continue to work with their career coach, academic advisor, academy director, faculty, peer coach and others on details of professional development, internship and full-time job search strategies and academic planning; the personal leadership coach will work to complement and supplement what these other coaches and advisors are doing. We expect to be able to launch this program to all students starting next year.”
15 WEEKS THAT ALUMNI WILL NEVER FORGET
One aspect that won’t change, however, is the school’s vaunted “Academy” system. Each first-year chooses from one of seven academies – a specific industry focus – that includes such areas as consumer marketing, supply chain, consulting, and capital markets. Hands-on, project-driven, and coaching-intensive, the academies act as a simulation for what students will face in their summer internship (with a second year Academy available for students who want to dig deeper in their industry – or choose a new one). Miguel Klee Roldan, who plans to transition from accounting to finance, was drawn to the Academy’s flexible structure and experiential environment.
“Each academy is organized by function and each is led by professionals that have years of experience within that particular function,” he explains. “This will provide me with access to my academy director who has years of experience leading finance organizations; my classmates who are all also interested in pursuing a career in corporate finance; and numerous guest speakers from the corporate finance world who will share current issues that their organizations are facing.”
Before the Academy, first-years must complete the core – an academic boot camp that separates the real deals from the wannabes. 15 weeks long, the core meshes together nine business areas into one course that is co-taught by eight professors. Here, students experience the interconnections between finance, marketing, operations, and strategy – to name a few. By the end, students are well-prepared to lead across various functions. It’s not easy – students receive one grade for the entire four months – but such rigor is exactly what Lindsay demanded to prepare him for the next stage in his career.
“For me it was all about the fit,” he admits. “I knew that I wanted to study marketing and data analytics and Kelley offers exceptional quality in both of those areas. I was impressed with how much emphasis Kelley puts toward offering the cutting edge in terms of education.”
THE GOAL: “A LEADER AMONG LEADERS”
Despite Kelley’s small town location, it is a strikingly global program. For example, many students complete KIPs – Kelly International Perspectives, spending two weeks overseas in such countries as China and France to better understand their economic systems and business cultures. Another popular option is GLOBASE (Global Business and Social Enterprise), where students partner with entrepreneurs on projects ranging from developing strategic planning to creating reliable forecasting models in underserved nations like Vietnam and Botswana.
“A degree from the Kelley School of Business represents a natural continuation of my pursuit to understand and excel in international business, says Ying Liu. “Hands-on learning courses, like the Kelley International Perspectives, will leave me abundantly prepared to work for a major international corporation. I look forward to giving back through GLOBASE where I will help entrepreneurs from emerging economies conquer their unique business challenges. I know that the Kelley School of Business will teach me the skills to thrive in the global market.”
And thrive in life, too. For many students, first year success will be measured in more than internships landed, competitions won, or networks built. Good-Hallahan, for one, views success in terms of trust. “After my first year, I hope that my peers would look to me for guidance and support, as a leader amongst leaders.”
Lewandowski takes it a step further. “If my class had to repeat our first year but was able to select our own cohort and team members, my peers would choose to work with me again. Also, I never forgot to call my mother.”
To read profiles of incoming Kelley MBA students — along with their advice on tackling the GMAT, applications, and interviews — click on the links below.
|Kailey Good-Hallahan||Muncie, IN||Excelsior College||U.S. Army|
|Chad Johnson||Phoenix, AZ||Santa Clara University||NetSuite|
|Stephanie Jordan||Clarendon Hills, IL||Rice University||ValuD Consulting|
|Miguel Klee Roldan||San Diego, CA||University of San Diego||Sempra Energy|
|Kyle Lewandowski||Muskego, WI||Drake University||U.S. Army|
|Bryan Lim||Walnut, CA||University of Southern California||CBRE|
|Josh Lindsay||Marietta, GA||Brigham Young University||Goldman Sachs|
|Mark Martinez||Rockford, IL||University of Indianapolis||U.S. Army|
|Tram Nguyen||Houston, TX||American University||DRT Strategies|
|Micah Pellerin||New Orleans, LA||Hampton University||NOLA Grown|
|Namrata Rao||Pune, India||Manipal Institute of Technology||Intellinects Ventures Pvt. Ltd|
|Amy Ying Liu||Denver, CO||University of California, Santa Barbara||AmTRAN Video Corporation|