Meet Indiana Kelley’s MBA Class Of 2020

Tom Steward

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

I’m a lifelong learner who loves discovering new things and sharing discoveries with others.”

Hometown​: Indianapolis, IN

Fun Fact About Yourself: ​I like to fly airplanes and sail sailboats.

Undergraduate School and Major:​ Indiana University Kelley School of Business, Finance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ​Ford Motor Co., Financial Analyst

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: ​I’d say that the biggest accomplishment in my career so far is building the business cases for three all-new vehicles that are expected to have a significant impact on Ford’s top and bottom lines. I worked closely with engineering, marketing, manufacturing, program management, etc., using their input to develop an overall financial picture of each vehicle. It was very complex, but building these business cases taught me a lot about each of these functions and how they are all connected. Working on a cross-functional team to create something new was a great opportunity, and it’s going to be even more rewarding in a few years when I see these new vehicles on the road.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? ​The Kelley students I’ve met so far have all been extremely eager to help each other out. This was most apparent to me when I received my acceptance letter. Within a few days of being admitted, several students reached out to me to congratulate me and offer their time to answer any questions I had. I found their advice to be very genuine. It was clear that they were there to help me make the best decision for me, not to give a recruiting pitch. I know that many of the people I meet over the next two years will stay in my life long after graduation, and Kelleys are the kind of people with whom I want to build lasting relationships.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you?​ I knew I needed some help with self-discovery, identifying opportunities that are the right fit for me and being able to communicate my story. Kelley Graduate Career Services is one of the best career services offices in the world, and having them in my corner during my MBA and throughout my career will be invaluable to me.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? ​Outdoors Club. Southern Indiana offers beautiful scenery and many fun things to do outdoors, so I am looking forward to having the opportunity to venture outside the walls of Kelley with my classmates and connect with nature.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? ​I’ve learned a lot in my time at Ford and have enjoyed the experience, but I wanted to transition out of corporate finance and into a more strategic role. Pursuing an MBA was the logical next step to make that happen.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? ​I’m a financial analyst, so of course I built a model to determine if an MBA was worthwhile. Long story short, an MBA offers a greater return and a shorter payback period than other graduate degrees. This is especially apparent at Kelley, which offers one of the best values of any top business school.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?​ Ross, Kellogg, Booth

How did you determine your fit at various schools? ​I looked for a school with a collaborative culture that is strong in consulting and located in the Midwest. I used Poets & Quants and the schools’ websites to research hard data including scholarship availability, salary information, top employers, and so on. Then I reached out to current students and alumni to get a sense of the cultural fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? ​While everybody has a handful of big, memorable moments in their lives, I don’t believe that these are the events that shape who we are. I believe that who we are is actually shaped by the smaller experiences and interactions that we have on a daily basis.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? ​Consulting

Where do you see yourself in five years? ​Continuing to grow and moving up the ranks at a consulting firm, hopefully in a management or project leadership role.

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