Meet Indiana Kelley’s MBA Class Of 2020

Most MBA candidates think they know what they want. Too bad so few know who they are. They’re not lost; they just know they can do so much more – be so much more. Before they move into a new role or industry, they need to ask themselves some hard questions…and be ready to stomach the hard truths.

Making a career transition is never easy. Done right, it requires a proven strategy and intensive support – not to mention myriad opportunities for students to prove themselves and build their resume. That’s exactly what the Kelley School of Business is designed to do.

A CAREER CHANGER’S PARADISE

Think of the Kelley MBA as the ultimate destination for making a career transition. A coaching culture bar none, Kelley students receive two years of custom, one-on-one coaching from certified career coaches. Before starting the core curriculum or meeting recruiters, MBA candidates complete Me, Inc. – a two-week deep-dive orientation focused on self-discovery. Armed with knowing who they are and what they want, students later complete an industry-focused Academy. In a nutshell, an Academy is project-laden, team-driven course covering the whole first year. The goal? Providing the experience, expertise, and network that translates into a successful shift into a new career.

Structure. Guidance. Opportunity – a program personalized to individual students with a mix of technical training, mentorship, and hands-on learning. That’s the Kelley MBA. Better yet, the program is set up so that flexibility is paramount. In real terms, that means students can easily experiment and quickly change course when it comes to career choices. That’s a big help to students like Jason Muir Clarke, a first-year who plans to pivot from public relations to social entrepreneurship.

“Kelley’s program gives me so many options to develop different skills and bring them together in real-life projects,” he writes. “There’s the Kelley Academies, where classroom knowledge is put to use in solving real-world business problems in fields like consulting, marketing, finance and others. Plus, Kelley has a top-ranked Graduate Career Services department, greatly thanks to the Me, Inc. program that helps you build your personal brand and stand out from the crowd. That wide variety of options to gain perspective from different fields and aspects of business, and prepare myself integrally to lead businesses and organizations is why I chose Kelley.”

First -year producing a personal narrative in Me, Inc.

LEAVING A PH.D. PROGRAM TO PURSUE A PASSION

Muir Clarke himself is currently a Fulbright Scholar. That’s just one of the more interesting tid bits about the Kelley Class of 2020. Ashley Emerole – a future investment banker – was the finance director for the New York City Department of Investigation, an operation that won the department’s Unit of the Year Award in 2017. Before heading to Bloomington, Lesley Ho worked as a fashion designer, while Jatin Gupta’s role as a channel data analyst enabled Google to hire over 3,500 people over the past three years.

Some class members have already made one big transition. Take Ashley Lagaron, a self-described “recovering academic and data nerd.” She once aspired to be a college professor, even spending two years in Stanford’s Ph.D. program. Restless and struggling, she eventually confessed to her advisor that academia wasn’t the path for her. In this discussion, she also recognized what drew her to the field in the first place: research and data.

“After my difficult year, I knew what I didn’t like, but more importantly, I had a clearer sense of where I excelled,” she says. “Although it was painful and scary to change course, I decided to take a leave of absence (that never ended) to join a data science startup with a handful of employees. The job let me grow towards my strengths and, in turn, I had the opportunity to grow the company itself.”

HOW TO PARALLEL PARK…A 225 FOOT SHIP!

Lagaron wasn’t the only class member to suffer hardship. In college, Allen Jarboe was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him bound to a wheelchair for three months. Despite the setback, he stayed up with his academics and graduated. Even more, he transformed himself physically so he could endure the grueling training required to be a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer. Ultimately, it was strength of mind and character that enabled him to achieve his goals.

“There were aspects of my previous job that were physically hard, and downright scary at times, where you wouldn’t be sane if you didn’t ask yourself why you do it,” he admits. “Leadership was demanding in requiring detailed, thoughtful planning and clearly articulating yourself. Not everyone succeeded, and it is mentally hard to keep coming back to the plate on a daily basis when there is a good chance of failure. I didn’t quit coming back. This cumulative effect of relentless effort into the face of adversity has shaped who I am today.”

Who is Jarboe today? For starters, he is a risk-taker who engages in parachuting and open water diving for fun. Then again, he also plays in chess tournaments and “can’t put down a good book.” Looking for a first-year with a rare skill?  That’d be Natalie Shuntich, also known as “the female version of Mighty Mouse.” A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, Schuntich spent her days parallel parking 225-foot ships – though she now struggles to park her “little green car” on campus. How is this for being a Renaissance Man? Jatin Gupta plays three musical instruments and has biked the most treacherous mountain terrain in northern India!

Students meeting with Kelley Career Services.

How is this for serendipity? “I met my fiancé in a rideshare after a snowstorm, recalls Ashley Emerole. “The odds that out of millions of New Yorkers we would cross paths that night is remarkable, it is the single greatest proof that talking to strangers can actually be life-changing.”

AN ACCOUNTANT PAYS IT FORWARD

Although many in the 2020 Class are looking to switch careers, they were highly successful in the ones they left behind. At Ford, Tom Steward – a pilot and a sailor in this spare time – helped develop business cases for three new vehicle lines, partnering with the engineering, marketing and partnering departments to cut through the red tape. In 2014, Natalie Shuntich took home the Regional Junior Officer of the Year Award from the U.S. Navy – a testament to both her quality of work, devotion to duty, and support of community. At the same time, Jason Muir Clarke has managed media campaigns for animal welfare – campaigns that have reached hundreds of thousands in Latin America alone.

Not every big achievement happens in the workplace. Robert Sasaki considers his great contribution to be the Bay Area Mentoring Group he founded. An organization devoted to helping minority and first generation students enter the accounting industry, the Bay Area Mentoring Group has placed 50 students in internships and full-time jobs with companies ranging from Amazon to PwC.

“Prior to starting my MBA, I knew I wanted to do something completely different that helped give back to local communities,” he says. “Spending the past two years mentoring underrepresented and minority students and helping them transition into the public accounting industry has been more rewarding than any other professional accomplishment I have achieved.”

CLASS HAS A “CLEAR VISION” OF WHAT THEY WANT

How would the Class of 2020 describe each other? Molly Boschan, a planner who intends to move into brand management, considers her classmates to be very goal-oriented. “Every Kelley classmate I have met… has had a clear vision of what they want in life,” she writes. “Whether it was a specific career and outlined path to get there or just knowing they want to reach a senior level position within an allotted time, there is a vision for where they want to go, how they can get there, and what steps need to be taken in the interim.”

Goal-oriented, no doubt – but hardly cutthroat, adds Ashley Emerole. “Whenever someone has a question, everyone is quick to assist and we congratulate each other for the wins, big and small. All that said, we laugh a lot, which is great because keeping things light is important given the stress of school and recruiting.”

For Will Weber, a senior consultant seeking P&L responsibility, the class is truly “Midwestern” – a state-of-mind as much as a location. “It encompasses three key facets: humility, kindness, and a strong work ethic.”

INCREASE IN FEMALE AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Overall, the Class of 2020 boasts 185 students, who arrive in Bloomington with a 674 average GMAT and a 3.33 undergraduate GPA. The biggest difference between this class and its predecessors? Think women, which compose 35% of the class – up six points over the previous year. The same could be said for international students, which also jumped six points to 36% of the first-year class.

Godfrey Centre Forum

The largest segment of the class – 32% — majored in business-related fields as undergraduates. Engineers make up the next largest bloc at 24%, followed by social science (13%), economics (9%), science (8%), humanities (5%), and math (2%).

Among MBA candidates, Indiana Kelley is often regarded as a ‘marketing school’ – a finishing program for the Procter & Gambles of the world. In reality, brand management is just one portion of the Kelley experience, with just 15% of the 2017 Class entering the industry (compared to 25% for consulting and 24% in technology). In reality, Kelley is a well-rounded academic program, ranking among the top 10 MBA programs in entrepreneurship, accounting, and information systems according to the latest U.S. News survey of business school deans and faculty. The program also boasts uncanny size and faculty depth, ranking among the top 10 undergraduate business and online MBA programs.

BLOOMINGTON IS  KELLEY’S SECRET WEAPON

The most underrated part of the program, however, is one that has spawned the most myths: Living in Bloomington, Indiana. For many, Bloomington represents small town Americana – an out-of-the way place where nothing happens. In reality, Bloomington is just an hour drive from Indianapolis. More than that, it attracts an array of employers, with 2017 graduates hired by companies like McKinsey, Microsoft, Google, and Goldman Sachs. Better yet, it offers a rich cultural scene that rivals far larger campuses, says Rebecca Cook, executive director of the Full-Time MBA Program at Kelley and president of the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance.

“Bloomington has a vibrant arts and entertainment community including one of the top music schools in the world, exciting college sports options, an extremely wide variety of wonderful ethnic and other restaurants, a very affordable cost of living, and a relatively mild climate. Our students get spoiled living here. Bloomington is rated as one of the top cities to live in by a wide variety of magazines and websites.”

Tyler Whitsett, a 2018 Poets & Quants Best & Brightest MBA agrees, arguing Bloomington offers something for everyone – particularly if you’re open to trying new things. “Whether it’s attending operas and stage plays at the IU Auditorium, seeing some of the best young musicians from the acclaimed Jacobs School of Music, or enjoying performances at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre, I have been able to feed my passion for the performing arts. If you are more of an outdoors enthusiast, there are plenty of hiking and bike trails in addition to being able to go out on Lake Monroe and enjoy the late summer and spring weather. While it’s not Chicago, New York or Boston, Bloomington is definitely a hidden gem whose campus experience is what you make it.”

Go to next page for in-depth student profiles from the Class of 2020.