2018 Best MBAs: Alex McNair, Emory University (Goizueta)

Alex McNair

Emory University – Goizueta Business School

Funny gay dude who gets things done without taking life too seriously.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Frederick, MD

Fun fact about yourself: I rescued a 50-pound dog after a tornado in Tuscaloosa in 2011 and snuck him in and out of my dorm room for 3 months without ever getting caught.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BS and MA in Health Studies from The University of Alabama

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Assistant Director, Rice Annual Fund, Rice University

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Deloitte Consulting (Human Capital), Atlanta, GA

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting (Human Capital), Atlanta, GA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

President, Goizueta Pride Alliance

President, Human Capital Club

Chair, Welcome Weekend

President (2nd year) and Vice President (1st year), Goizueta Ambassadors

Haiti Lead Week Pilot Selected Participant

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of the work we did on Welcome Weekend 2017. Chairing such a huge event is a big undertaking, and the entire weekend went incredibly well. Welcome Weekend is a great opportunity to bring new students into the Goizueta family while convincing undecided students that this is the place for them. I’m proud of this in particular because it involved almost every single person from my 180-person class in a volunteer or leadership capacity.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was brought onboard the Annual Fund team at Rice, young alumni and student giving rates weren’t ideal. Along with two other staff members, I spent my two years there focusing on these alumni and future alumni populations to increase the rate at which they supported their alma mater financially. By the time I left, both numbers were at all-time highs. This was a total team effort, and I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish as a team of staff and alumni and student volunteers.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Last semester, I took a class called Business and Society. It focuses on the ways in which business as we know it can be used to solve social problems. In simplest terms, it’s a bit about corporate social responsibility. As someone who came from a nonprofit background before business school, I really loved this class. It was refreshing to hear discussions from a room full of students who had ideas about how the corporate world could be leveraged to better the world as a whole, and it made me hopeful for the future.

Why did you choose this business school? There were a lot of reasons, but the people at the school really sold me. In my opinion, you can tell everything you need to know about a place or a group of people within your first couple of interactions – and every single one I had with Goizueta was positive. Even after I was admitted and still deciding, everybody was so helpful with my last-minute questions and concerns. Basically, I viewed it like this: a top business school is a top business school, and you’re going to get a good job when you finish a top MBA program – so this decision is really about the people you want to spend two years with and then be associated with for the rest of your life. I definitely made the right decision.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself, and remember that this is a two-way street. When you’re interviewing at Goizueta (or anywhere else), it’s as much about the school getting to know you as it is about you getting to know the school. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions to really get a good feel for the place. It ain’t cheap, so you want somewhere that you’re able to be your authentic self.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that everybody knows everybody – and it is 100% true. My class is 180 people, and I know everyone’s name and at least one thing about everyone. Goizueta brags about our small community (trust me, if you’ve looked at our school, you’ve heard about it), but it really isn’t just all talk. Having such a close-knit community is amazing, and I couldn’t imagine being at a business school where I didn’t know everyone in my graduating class.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Hannah Wilson. Hannah is an MBA/MPH student, and I truly don’t understand how she has time in the day to do everything that she does while STILL being social and fun. She is so incredibly passionate about the things that matter most in this world, and I can’t wait to tell everyone she is my friend when she becomes famous for saving the world.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I started undergrad on the pre-med track. Once I finally decided that I hated literally all of my science classes, I decided to pursue a career in higher education. Though I loved the work and the environment, I felt like I wanted something more challenging. Part of my job in higher education fundraising involved meeting with alumni, and I was always intrigued by the alums I met with in consulting. It felt like a great fit for me, especially since I get bored at work easily. I knew I needed a business degree to get hired by a big consulting firm, though, so I came back to business school.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working in higher education still, possibly contemplating enrolling in a part-time higher ed PhD program.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? The accessibility of the degree. There are a lot of really smart people out there who would be excellent MBA candidates but don’t have the ability to easily secure such huge amounts of student loans. An MBA from a top school is really expensive, and though the return on investment is almost always great, many people are limited by that upfront cost regardless.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and live abroad for a year.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want people to remember me as the funny guy who reminded them not to take everything so seriously.

What would your theme song be?Diva” by Beyoncé.

Favorite vacation spot: London

Hobbies? Watching the entire 30 Rock series on loop.

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

“I first met Alex when he applied to be an Ambassador Vice President early in his first semester at Goizueta. This leadership position requires students to be peer and prospect student facing, organized and innovative. This is a two-year commitment, so I also look for someone with whom I would enjoy spending an extended period of time. Alex delivered. He is driven, smart and unapologetically authentic. During his first year as an Ambassador VP, I also asked him to chair our annual Welcome Weekend. Welcome Weekend is the highest profile event for the admissions office and requires a leadership team that can strategically think through, and execute, weekend-long programming for Admitted MBA students and their partners. Alex took the lead in managing all aspects of the event and met with every stakeholder including, faculty, staff, students at alumni, at the business school to ensure the event was well received and the mission was met. 2017 marked the largest attendance in Goizueta history, in part, due to Alex’s thoughtful promotion and marketing for the event.

Alex has taken on leadership roles not only within the admissions office. He is also President of Pride Alliance and the Human Capital Club. In addition, Alex was chosen to go to Haiti to investigate a Lead Week Pilot Program for 2nd year students. This is a common theme with Goizueta administrators: “We need a current student to lead (insert initiative),” and undoubtedly Alex’s name will come up. He is a pioneer and is exceptional at driving innovative thinking. He is mature when he needs to be and a goofball when times necessitate it. I recall one afternoon in a Welcome Weekend meeting, we were all buried in our lap tops silently yet feverishly plugging away, when Alex screamed at the top of his lungs, to the point I thought someone had either died, or he had won the lottery. He then yelled, “Beyonce is pregnant!” That is pure Alex McNair.

I am honored to recommend Alex to Poets & Quants Best and Brightest MBAs. He brings so much to our community and we are extremely proud of what he has accomplished here and will continue to accomplish in his professional and personal life.”

Heather Holland
Senior Associate Director of MBA Admissions
Goizueta Business School-Emory University

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018