2018 Best MBAs: Meg Kelleher, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Meg Kelleher

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Engineer to consultant career switcher, who is passionate about improving the world around her.”

Age: 29

Hometown: Centereach, NY

Fun fact about yourself: Last month, I went to Disney World with a group of Kellogg classmates.  We visited all four theme parks in one day – 18 attractions, 1 fireworks show, and 13 miles walked!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Lehigh University, Industrial Engineering

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was a Senior Industrial Engineer for The Walt Disney Company in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Acting as an internal consultant for the Parks & Resorts business, I provided strategic and analytical support for the expansion and refurbishment of the theme parks.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? As a student in Kellogg’s One-Year Program, my classes started in the summer of 2017 – so no summer internship for me!

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company as an associate in the Operations Practice 

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Events for the Travel & Hospitality Club, Kellogg Cares Volunteer, Kellogg Admission Lunch Buddy, Kellogg Accepted Students Buddy, Consulting Recruiting Preparation Buddy

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I arrived at Kellogg as an engineer. Like many engineers, I have a somewhat structured and analytical thought process.  I knew I wanted to pivot to become a management consultant. A career change in the one-year program can be a challenge because it is a short timeline with little room for error. Broadening my skill set has allowed me to secure my dream job at McKinsey with hard work, dedication and the support from my peers. Once recruiting was in the rearview mirror, I wanted to pay it forward. I have spent countless hours giving practice cases and offering feedback to our first-year students. Helping them through this challenging process has been very rewarding. I will continue to be involved in the recruiting process for as long as I can help my classmates realize their goals.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of my projects at Disney was providing strategic, analytical and operational support to development of the new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. I was able to partner with amazing creative visionaries and influence the design of this movie brought-to-life land. The new land opens the week after graduation – and I will be there to watch the Slinky Dog Dash Coaster spring to life.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I truly enjoyed learning from Leadership expert, Professor Harry Kraemer. From his successful career at Baxter to his current role as an executive partner at a PE firm, he has so many experiences, lessons and opinions to share on the vast topic of leadership.  His positive energy fills the classroom every Wednesday night.  It has been a great experience to be able to observe and interact with such a dynamic leader with so much wisdom to pass along!

Why did you choose this business school? The unique format of the One-Year Program is what first attracted me to Kellogg. It was a better fit for my personal life compared to a traditional two-year program, while still offering me a full-time program experience. While the timing of the one-year attracted me, it was the people and culture of the Kellogg community that made it the perfect fit.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? While it is a stressful process, focus on being yourself and telling “your” story. Highlight the things that make you uniquely you. Show Kellogg what you can bring to the table that no one else can. Kellogg looks beyond your academic profile and work experience in search of the characteristics that make a great leader.  Show us that you have what it takes.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A lot people associate Kellogg with marketing. And while there are some great marketing classes, professors and career opportunities, it is just one piece of the pie. I actually know more people going into finance, consulting or tech than marketing. I personally have taken a few great marketing courses that I believe will be very helpful in my non-marketing focused career.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Being in the One-Year Program has made time a very precious asset. With only 12 months to cram my entire business school experience into, I am always prioritizing. While I do second guess going to this club event over that social event or selecting this class over that class, I always try to align how I’m spending my time with my end goals. I haven’t always been perfect (there may have been a few accidental double bookings), but overall, it has been a great experience so no regrets here!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire has had to fight harder to get to where he is than anyone else I know. I won’t use his name, because it is his personal story to share but I will let you that he overcame a great deal of adversity to become the first one in his family to go to college and now onto business school. He is a great example of the diversity of experiences, both professional and personal, that Kellogg students bring with them to business school.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I had taken GMAT and had done well, but was hesitant to take the risk and apply to this prestigious program. My boyfriend encouraged me to explore the options and take a chance on myself and apply. I was comfortable in my job and was afraid to make an expensive leap into the unknown. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made!

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…preparing for the grand opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?  Kellogg is just one of the incredible graduate schools at Northwestern University. While we have educational experiences that leverage the other schools (Feinberg School of Medicine, Pritzker School of Law and McCormick School of Engineering) through dual degree programs and course options, I would like to offer an opportunity for Kellogg students to really get to know the rest of our graduate community. Arranging joint club events, shared speakers and social events would allow all students to connect and grow our Northwestern network outside of the business school.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? (1) Go on an African safari (2) Learn calligraphy

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? She is a kind-hearted and motivated individual who is always willing to help those around her.

What is your favorite movie about business? Moneyball, because it shows that data and analytics can be applied to just about anything to help improve decision making.

What would your theme song be? “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Favorite vacation spot: Ireland – it is such a beautiful place filled with so much heritage and so many friendly people!

Hobbies: Wine tasting, traveling and watching the Mets

What made Meg such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“By enrolling in Operations Strategy (OPNS454), Meg chose to be intellectually challenged. With the motto “strategic decisions grounded in operational reality”, this is not a course for the faint of heart. Yet Meg’s 7-year experience at Disney’s Industrial Engineering internal consulting group gives her a leg up to contribute and excel in my course.

When we discussed capacity expansion options, Meg enlightened us as to how theme parks measure the return of expansions in terms of the “excellent experience” ratings customers give for an attraction. This rating then is correlated with higher return visit frequency and positive word-of-mouth, and as such increase the expected present value of future operating profits stemming from a ride’s expansion. Meg is pursuing an operations major, and serves on the leadership board of the Kellogg Travel and Hospitality Club.

She will leave Kellogg well-educated and well-grounded and I have no doubt she will contribute very positively to the larger world. It is a pleasure and a privilege to have students of Meg’s caliber in my class.”

Professor Jan Van Mieghem

Harold L. Stuart Professor of Managerial Economics

Professor of Operations


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