2018 MBAs To Watch: Alex Walsh, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Alex Walsh

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

“Ebullient, effusive, and expedient. Gets things done fast, and has lots of fun doing them.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Palm Coast, FL

Fun fact about yourself: I sang a cappella in college, including the solo for “Song for the Dumped” by Ben Folds Five. (Many members of our group – The Ransom Notes! — still get together at least once a year, a decade later!)

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Chicago, BA in Economics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Most recently, I worked as a finance manager for Eckerd Kids, a Florida-based nonprofit that provides career pathways and support to adults, dislocated workers, and workforce-eligible teens. Prior to that, I worked as a journalist, in various roles and in different places all around the eastern United States. I started as the lone reporter for a business weekly in Tampa, Florida, spent some time as a data journalist building visualizations in Tableau, and, at one point, managed a newsroom.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? I spent last summer at The Home Depot, in Atlanta, Georgia, as a member of the Customer Insights team. My project was to conduct analyses on customers’ shopping and spend behavior. I looked at how often customers purchased certain products from us, as well as their reviews and ratings about those products.

Where will you be working after graduation? Back to The Home Depot! I actually started back full-time as of January 2nd. My team is starting to move from descriptive work to predictive analyses, so it’s a very exciting time.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: In 2017, I was part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for Metro Atlanta, and really enjoyed spending time with my Little, Garrett. I also took Scheller’s Nonprofit Consulting Practicum class, which connects students to a nonprofit company in the Atlanta area to help solve a business problem. My team was focused on optimizing operations for a local farmer’s market organization. I helped them find a less expensive and more effective way to receive payment, while at the same time collecting data about those transactions.

I also served as a co-chair of our MBA program’s Social Committee. We organized something fun every Thursday night, be that a big group outing at a neat venue in Atlanta or a late-night event on campus. I’m really proud of the success of this year’s Geography Bee; we had great turnout, and our champion nailed the last round by naming all the countries in South America AND every country that borders China!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My peers voted to name me MBA Student of the Year for 2017, which was such an honor, given that I think so highly of each of my classmates.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working as a business journalist in Birmingham, Alabama, I noticed something strange in the transcript of an earnings call for a publicly traded company based in the city. The CEO had been asked whether the company might sell its natural gas utility business to focus more on oil and gas exploration. In the middle of answering the question, the CEO totally switched gears mid-sentence, from “It’s evolving,” to “We are never going to separate,” in a span of a few words. I spoke to some analysts and published a story – almost one year exactly before Energen announced that it had reached a deal to sell its utility to the Laclede Group for $1.6 billion. As someone who typically moves fast and puts the forest ahead of the trees, I’m proud to have picked up on such a small detail and made something of it.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Samuel Bond teaches Consumer Behavior at Scheller. It’s a huge field obviously, and Professor Bond does an incredible job packing a ton of content into a one-semester class, from customer journey and social media marketing to eye-tracking technology. And it doesn’t hurt that, as a self-proclaimed marketing analytics professional, the content is extremely relevant to my day-to-day work! In fact, the final project for that class was a concept for Coca-Cola that I think could make them a lot of money. At any rate, thank you, Prof. Bond!

What was your favorite MBA Course Other than the aforementioned Consumer Behavior course, I really enjoyed our core strategy course. The first half is focused on a textbook, while the second half is all about application. I enjoyed partnering with First Data to help them identify up-and-coming competitors, but even better than that was getting to learn from classmates about their own experiences over the course of two fully-packed presentation days. One thing that will always stick with me was the team that presented to Cox Automotive. The executive from Cox closed thusly: “One last question, when can you start?” A super cool moment to end a great class.

Why did you choose this business school? I think the top flight career services at Scheller and high-upside location of Atlanta are obvious strengths. More personally, the community at Scheller reminded me of my peers at the University of Chicago: intellectually curious people who were motivated by learning and discovery rather than accomplishment alone. To be sure, the folks at Scheller have ambition in spades. But that ambition is paired with a deep caring about the implications of what we learn and discuss – not to mention a caring for the well-being of fellow students, as well as the community and world around them.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I think the Admissions group at Scheller does an outstanding job of admitting individuals with a high energy level, a willingness to work hard, and a natural inclination to care deeply and sincerely about the people around them, both immediately and in the broader community. If you’re one of those, I don’t think you need any advice at all!

What is the biggest myth about your school? This one’s easy. People assume you have to be a computer scientist to succeed at Tech. Not so! In fact, not even close! We have the faculty and resources to get folks up to speed on technology. Just bring your can-do attitude!

What was your biggest regret in business school? I think I would have approached case competitions differently if I knew at the beginning what I know now. They’re a great opportunity to apply what you learn, especially if you find an event that really keys on business concepts or marketplace applications that interest you.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? All of them! Apologies that I can’t make this a list of one, but as someone who tends to get by on improvisation and energy, I very much admire classmates Anya Babinets, Paige Brown, and Shane Moser for their unfailing polish and poise. They hit their marks every time!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? From a very young age, my mom encouraged me to always apply critical thinking when possible. I think it’s what directed me to economics as an undergrad, which is definitely what led me to business as a graduate student.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a business journalist in Chicago.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I think we could be more intentional about getting into the broader Atlanta community. Certainly those opportunities exist, and I think Tech is a great civic partner to the city of Atlanta, but for our program I might seek to convert some “optionals” into “mandatories.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Now that I’ve witnessed a Cubs World Series win? A week-long bike trip along some sort of beautiful coast line, and catching a Liverpool game at Anfield.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope they feel like I really listen to them when they speak – about their feelings, their experiences, their points of view.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short, and it’s actually the very first visual in the film – a quote attributed to Mark Twain (although apparently the validity of this attribution has been challenged by some): “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

What would your theme song be? “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior, guaranteed to make almost any bad day a lot happier for at least a couple of minutes.

Favorite vacation spot: To quote Kanye West, summertime Chi. Ahh!

Hobbies? Road cycling and running, Major League Baseball (Cubs!), English Premier League, and late 19th /early 20th century biographies. Ron Chernow’s writings on John Rockefeller is something like 1,000 pages long, but it’s an incredible perspective into a deeply fascinating person, one who could account for every penny in and out of his pocketbook; one who would crush you in the marketplace and pray with you at church on Sunday; one who had two goals in life, and nearly achieved them both: to live to be 100, and to become the richest man in the world.

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

“During the first week of my new position at Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business, Alex Walsh walked into my office and told me he wanted to partner with me to make Scheller great. As a result of that conversation, Alex helped with a campaign that resulted in generating 125 student and alumni referrals. In addition to this initiative, Alex was a driving force for the creation of our student podcast series. The combination of Alex’s skills and experience as a journalist, his enthusiasm for the MBA program, and his radio-ready voice have created a terrific platform to showcase Scheller distinctions. Alex also lent his analytics skills to projects which helped us analyze peer data, recruiting leads, and the impact of our marketing efforts. Whether serving as a Student Ambassador, pulling together the annual Geography Bee, or working on faculty, staff or student initiatives, Alex has been a vibrant and engaged member of our community. His impact on the program has been significant and I believe it will continue as he transitions to an alumnus.”

Katie Lloyd

Executive Director of MBA Admission

Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology





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