2018 MBAs To Watch: Staci Bank, University of Maryland (Smith)

Staci Bank

Robert H. Smith School of Business – University of Maryland

Ambitious leader and enthusiastic foodie with a positive outlook on life.”

Age: 27

Hometown: Plainview, NY

Fun fact about yourself: I just returned from a three-week trip to Asia where I took cooking classes in both Thailand and Japan. I have since started making sushi at home with friends.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland B.S in Marketing and Supply Chain

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Starbucks Coffee Company, Senior Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Johnson & Johnson, Somerset, New Jersey

Where will you be working after graduation? Johnson & Johnson, Procurement Leadership Development Program Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Honors:

First Year M.V.P of the Class

Honoree Speaker at Smith MBA Alumni Weekend 2018

Leadership Roles/Community Involvement

Executive Vice President: MBA Association

Forte Fellow

First Year Track Representative

First Year Board Member: Jewish MBA and Supply Chain and Operations Club

Graduate Assistant: Logistics, Business, and Public Policy Department

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the reasons I came to Smith was the experiential learning opportunities that the school has to offer. These opportunities provide students with a hands-on experience to apply what is learned in the classroom to real-world problems. One option, designED, was the graduate level version of Quest, a revered program at Smith undergrad. I always regretted not taking Quest during my years at Smith the first time, so I was determined to apply to designED. In this class, students learn design thinking techniques, build business development skills, and perform consulting projects. When I received my “congratulations” email from the previous cohort, I was thrilled and exhilarated. I knew that I could add value to this class, and that it would provide me with new skills to take with me into the workforce.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Starbucks, employees have the opportunity to become a Coffee Master, through a 10-week course designed to gain in-depth knowledge about coffee. I became a Coffee Master while I was working at Starbucks. It provided me with a stronger connection to our final product. I learned about how coffee beans are grown and processed; I came to understand the flavor profiles of each growing region; and I provided coffee tastings to my colleagues to practice my skills. What I am most proud of, though, is that I became a Coffee Master teacher. I guided three classes through their coffee journey, and watched with pride as they all graduated to their black aprons. I was able to combine my love of coffee with my passion for teaching and help others achieve their goals.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Gary Cohen. While I did not take any of Gary’s MBA classes, I took his class in undergrad at Smith that he now offers at a graduate level. Gary has been my mentor since my senior year at the University of Maryland. From coaching me on how to land my dream job at Starbucks to deciding which MBA program to join, Gary has been there through it all. Now that I am back at Smith, we are working tirelessly to build the Supply Chain focus at an MBA level. Gary’s passion and commitment to students is infectious, and I am lucky to have him in my cheering squad.

What was your favorite MBA Course Dean Rebecca Ratner’s Consumer Behavior class has been my favorite class at Smith. This class provided me with the tools to better understand the psychology behind consumer behavior and why we make certain purchases. We learned marketing techniques that were successful and failures and we were able to apply these techniques to a final integrative assignment. As a supply chain professional, it is critical that I understand the final consumer and how to reach them.

Why did you choose this business school? To say that I love University of Maryland, would be an understatement. I had an incredible experience at Smith as an undergraduate student, and I knew what opportunities the school could help me achieve by coming back here. I wanted a small class so that I could build meaningful relationships with my soon-to-be business network. I was also excited about the experiential class opportunities that Smith has to offer. I ended up taking four experiential learning classes during my time, which all fit into my career aspirations.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The best advice I can give is to be clear on what you can provide to the MBA program. We have a small class, only 100 people per year, so it is important that each person brings something new to the community.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That we are a consulting school. While the school does have great connections to consulting firms, students at Smith pursue careers in supply chain, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, and many other focus areas. The school allows students to get a strong understanding of each focus area and then provides students with the tools necessary to dive deeper into their concentration to set them up for success post-grad.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had the time for more activities that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Smith offers so many great events to learn about other cultures, practice leadership skills, and create strong bonds with your peers. I would have liked to spend more time going to events created by my classmates that would encourage me to think outside the box.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Colin Goddard from the Smith MBA 2018 class. Colin came from a background of public policy, specifically gun advocacy. Colin came into the program with limited business knowledge, but jumped head first into class work, has always been a great teammate, and has found ways to incorporate his passion for sustainable energy into his extracurricular activities at Smith. I am so impressed with Colin’s professionalism, his kindness, and his willingness to always help classmates be the best version of themselves.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Given that I had my undergrad degree in business, I was not always set on getting an MBA. I had a director at Starbucks who became a mentor to me. As we spoke, he said that the reason he went back to get his MBA was to learn the language of the other areas of business. He said that I could benefit from that experience as well. I was strong in supply chain and had a good understanding of marketing, but the MBA would give me the opportunity to better communicate cross-functionally. I realized that as I progressed in a company, I would be working more and more with cross-functional teams (finance, strategy, and marketing) than I would be with the other members of the supply chain. I wanted to learn how to speak their language so that I could be a more effective supply chain professional.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…on a short-term work abroad assignment for a company.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? If I had the honor of being dean for a day, I would help foster a stronger relationship between the MBA clubs and the faculty. With over 20 clubs at Smith, there are a lot of ways that students can get involved and share their passions with their classmates. These clubs would benefit from strong relationships with faculty who can improve the quality of events, offer connections to professionals in various fields, and provide mentorship to club leaders.  

What are the top two items on your bucket list? The first item on my bucket list is to hit all the national parks in Utah and Arizona. I have not been to either of these states, but would love to take a few weeks to drive around (in an RV) and camp at each of the parks.

The second item on my bucket list is to start a food blog. I am constantly recommending restaurants to family and friends and I would love to capture that information to share with others looking for a good bite to eat.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want my peers to remember me as someone who solves problems with integrity, passion, and a sense of humor.

What is your favorite movie about business? Erin Brockovich. First of all, Julia Roberts is my favorite actress. She is inspiring, well-rounded, and a strong female lead. This movie in particular, taught me to stand up for what I believe in, even when I am facing an uphill battle. We are each challenged in our lives to take a stance and Brockovich taught us that hard work and perseverance can pay off in the end.

What would your theme song be?I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack.

Favorite vacation spot: I love Bend, Oregon. I consider it the Disneyland for adults.  There are amazing restaurants and activities for both winter and summer. Whether you love to ski, kayak, or bike, there is something to do. The weather is always beautiful so it’s great for someone who likes to explore the outdoors.  I am also really passionate about craft beer and Bend is the mecca for IPAs. I spent a weekend there a couple of years ago and promised myself that I would try to retire there.

Hobbies? Curating restaurant recommendations for friends and families, traveling, going on long walks through the streets of Washington, D.C., and trying recipes at home from cooking classes I have taken.

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

“Staci’s classmates selected her to be their class MVP for a reason! Irrespective of whether we are talking about academic performance, leadership roles, networking, professional success, or social engagement, Staci is one of the first people that comes to mind in each of these categories.  Her passion is sincere and contagious.  She is also one of the hardest working and most thoughtful MBAs I have had the pleasure of teaching.

From the very beginning of the program, Staci stepped into a leadership role as a track representative where she served as a conduit between the class and the faculty and administration.  Her leadership was further recognized by her class through her election to the Executive Vice President role of the MBA Association. Even while taking on these roles, she has maintained an outstanding academic record and engaged in helping us incorporate improvements to our MBA curriculum. I can’t think of an MBA event over the past two years where I have not seen Staci.  She lives and breathes the Smith MBA program and will be an incredible ambassador as a double-Terp alum.

Professionally, Johnson & Johnson also recognized Staci’s outstanding talent and will find themselves extraordinarily pleased with the addition of Staci to their ranks.”

Michael Faulkender
Associate Dean of Masters Programs

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018