What I Learned In My First Year At Kellogg

Eggers dog-sledding in British Columbia as part of a trip with his Kellogg classmates.

3) Unique Thought Leadership

Kellogg’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative (KIEI) teaches students that entrepreneurship comes in many forms: starting your own venture, innovating for change from within, or acquiring an existing business. As the head of Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) within Kellogg’s Private Equity Club, I learned that many of the tools I used as an infantry officer once again became relevant.

In the Marine Corps, it seems like there are never enough people, resources, or funding to do the work required in the allotted time. As the branch that survives on “hand-me-downs” from other services, the importance of time management and doing more with less permeates everything we do. Mission timelines are planned in terms of minutes or even down to individual seconds, such as when coordinated impacts from aviation and surface fires enable the maneuvering unit to close with the enemy.

Such experiences give veterans an advantage in entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur in the ETA community, you dictate the intensity and pace of your work schedule during your two-year search phase. You are your own boss and your actions determine the chances of finding and acquiring the right company. In such an unstructured environment, it is no coincidence that veterans tend to thrive; they rely on their discipline to maximize their time and their ability to close with little institutional support around them.

Such lessons were invaluable when I was helping to plan the 4th Annual Booth-Kellogg ETA Conference. As an infantryman, the value of a leader’s reconnaissance, redundant planning, and learning from after action reports cannot be overstated. These lessons proved instrumental in ensuring that our venue suited our needs; we had backup speakers in case of contingencies; and we didn’t make the same mistakes as in prior years. In the end, the two cross-town MBA rivals were able to bring together more than 430 individuals from the ETA ecosystem to share best practices, network, and review industry trends. Regardless of the form of entrepreneurship, understanding how to source the right data and to connect it with the right people is what drives success in today’s dynamic business environment.

4) The Value of Feedback and Self-Reflection

Eggers as a U.S. Marine.

It is easy to continuously look to the horizon towards your next goal, constantly benchmarking yourself in terms of compensation and career progression against fellow students. As part of Personal Leadership Insights course with Paul Corona, I sought out feedback from peers, family, and employers about myself. Turns out, I was guilty of this to the point where others said that I was too hard on myself. I would dismiss successes on the basis that I could have done better if I had only done “X”, thereby overlooking a positive moment and diving immediately back to work.

During Corona’s class, my friend Hammad gave me brilliant advice during our peer-to-peer coaching session. In order to be more intentional about celebrating successes (regardless of how big or small they are), he urged me to plan a celebration that accompanies every milestone I achieved. In doing so, he argued, I’d involve others around me and those who likely supported me throughout my journey to that point. Through this, I’ve learned that creating a culture where it is encouraged to celebrate victories will make people more willing to reflect on the accomplishments of the team and acknowledge each other. In the process, they will boost group cohesion and performance.

A Final Thought

The value of an MBA is more than just the sticker price of the loans you take out for tuition or your compensation after graduation. I found that the true value lies in the exchanges you will have, the friendships you will make, and the shared experiences as part of a community of incredibly talented individuals. I will be forever grateful to Kellogg for providing me with an irreplaceable education that helped shape the foundation of my life after the Marine Corps.

George Eggers is a 2nd year MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, who is specializing in finance and accounting. At Kellogg, he was the Director of Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition for the Private Equity Club and the Alumni Relations Officer for the Kellogg Veterans Association. Before entering business school, he was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. After graduation, he will be starting at J.P. Morgan as an Associate in their Mergers & Acquisitions group.