2018 Best MBAs: Tyler Whitsett, Indiana University (Kelley)

Tyler Whitsett

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

 “Amateur foodie & Iron Chef wannabe with a passion for driving growth within businesses.”

Age: 25

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: My first time on a roller coaster was the summer before I started my MBA program.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan – Dearborn, BBA in Supply Chain Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? PepsiCo, Manufacturing Resource

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Procter & Gamble, Associate Brand Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Kelley Black MBA Association President;
  • Kelley MBA Me, Inc. Facilitator;
  • Kelley MBA Leadership Academy Peer Coach;
  • Kelley MBA Consumer Marketing Academy Spring Project Advisor;
  • Global Business and Social Enterprise (GLOBASE) Ghana Trip Leader;
  • GLOBASE Vietnam Participant;
  • Indiana University Black Graduate Student Association Member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest achievement was winning the 2017 Elite 8 Brand Management Case Competition hosted by the Carlson School of Management. I participated as a member of the 2016 team that represented Kelley, but we were unsuccessful in placing. As one of the leaders for the 2017 team, I built a team of 1st and 2nd year students who possessed a diverse set of complementary strengths and had strong chemistry when working together. Building this team was very challenging, but it paid off as we were each able to leverage our strengths during the competition and develop the winning recommendation.

 What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of my proudest achievements came during my time at PepsiCo as a manufacturing resource at the Gatorade Indianapolis production facility. I was tasked with performing an operational analysis on my production lines and identified a $300,000 cost savings opportunity, which was above and beyond what was required of my business unit. I then developed a strategy to achieve these savings, which was implemented in the 2017 fiscal year after I left for Kelley.

Why did you choose this business school? The key factors in deciding to attend Kelley were the program’s holistic approach to career management and its focus on experiential learning. While I was visiting schools during the application process, the career services team at Kelley was hands down the best that I interacted with. Not only did they understand what it took for me to reposition my brand and sell myself as a career switcher (from supply chain to brand management), but they also placed an extreme emphasis on mindfulness and being self-aware — a component of the career journey that is often overlooked because of focusing to technical skill development. I knew that the career services team, paired with the experiential learning opportunities would prepare me to effectively make my career switch. From the focus on application of business concepts in the classroom to the consulting engagements available through the Consumer Marketing Academy and GLOBASE programs, I would have ample opportunities to sharpen my strategic thinking capabilities and develop the leadership skills necessary to have a successful summer internship.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself, not who you believe that the application review committee wants to see. Kelley prides itself on having students with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Embracing the qualities that make you unique will not only give you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd, but will also give the committee a chance to envision how your perspective can enrich your classmates MBA experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Scott Price is, by far, a classmate that I hold in high regard. Not only is he an amazing student, but he also serves as class president and—above all—a husband and father to his wife and kids. The trait about him that I most admire is his transcendent charisma that allows him to relate to nearly everyone in the program, despite cultural, socioeconomic, or political differences. The word “authentic” gets tossed around a lot these days. But Scott is the truest embodiment of the word. Being able to never lose sight of or compromise on his values and personal brand can be challenging when navigating various social circles, but he makes it look effortless. Witnessing Scott exhibit this characteristic over the last two years has motivated me to seek opportunities to improve in this area and maximize my leadership capabilities.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents get the credit for my pursuit of business as a career path. Growing up, they wanted me to go into engineering, but I hated it. It really pushed me at an early age to figure out what I wanted to do. When I was 11 or 12, they gave me a book on how to manage money as an adolescent. One of the chapters talked about starting a business to earn money and I was instantly hooked. In that moment, I knew that I was destined for the business world and I haven’t looked back since.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working towards launching a food truck.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? One thing that I would introduce to the MBA experience is an increased emphasis on personal leadership. There is a significant amount of time and resources dedicated to leading teams and organizations. However, my philosophy is that it is exponentially more difficult to lead others if one doesn’t have the ability to know themselves deeply and chart their own course.

Through coaches at Kelley and the Leadership Academy, I have been able to explore this concept and have noticed substantial growth in my overall leadership skills. Talking with peers in other programs, I realized that this experience is a key differentiator for Kelley students. Implementing additional courses and programs that emphasize the personal leadership process will better equip the leaders of tomorrow to lead an increasingly diverse workforce.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Visit every continent (yes, including Antarctica)
  2. See a concert at Carnegie Hall

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Tyler was a man of integrity, purpose, passion and perspective.”

What is your favorite movie about business? My favorite movie [series] about business is “The Godfather.” This series taught me two of the most important lessons that have been applied to both my professional and personal life: 1. Never let your emotions drive your actions. 2. Know your competition and always think multiple steps ahead of them. My experience in business school has helped me sharpen the skills necessary to be even more effective in applying those lessons. As a participant in Kelley’s Leadership Academy, I have been able to immerse myself into the practice of mindfulness and learned to take the time to pause, acknowledge my emotional/mental state, and decide how to react when ever faced with a situational stimulus. This has greatly improved my ability to react to situations more pragmatically rather than with an emotionally triggered response.

What would your theme song be?DNAby Kendrick Lamar

Favorite vacation spot: Como, Italy

Hobbies: Cooking, working out, playing drums, going to concerts, volunteering (specifically with inner city youth programs)

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

“Tyler has embodied the Kelley spirit and culture, getting involved in many activities that help to make Kelley even stronger.  He has been the President of the Black MBA Association, an active peer coach and mentor to 1st year MBAs, Consortium student mentor, mentor to undergraduate minority students, Me, Inc. co-facilitator, 2nd year project lead for the Consumer Marketing Academy, and GLOBASE Ghana student leader, among other things. All of these activities take a significant amount of time, yet Tyler always finds time to help and support classmates, friends, and the Kelley program. Tyler was my co-facilitator for Me, Inc. and really made a difference in our classroom through one on one coaching with our students, honest feedback and support for the students, and continued mentoring well after Me, Inc. was completed.”

Rebecca Cook

Executive Director, MBA Program


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