Meet Indiana Kelley’s MBA Class Of 2020

Paul Brar

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

A curious and passionate educator who enjoys new challenges.”

Hometown: Downers Grove, IL

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Until recently, I did not have any social media accounts. I decided to create a Facebook profile to keep in touch with family, friends, and students while I pursue my MBA. I’m happy to join everyone in the 21st century!

Undergraduate School and Major: Knox College, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  D.C. Public Schools; Coordinator, Operations; Teach for America; Algebra I and Geometry Teacher

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Through my four years of education experience, I am proud of my work to improve outcomes for students, families and teachers. My biggest career accomplishment was the implementation of an after-school program for at-risk students. I designed the program to mitigate the large number of suspensions at the high school where I taught in Memphis, Tennessee. The program was grounded in physical fitness and nutrition, but also included daily lessons on decision-making inside and outside of school. By the end of the program’s second year, nearly 75 percent of participants finished the school year without a single suspension. Several graduated from high school this past summer and will attend college in the fall!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?  Of those I’ve met so far, I’ve noticed my MBA classmates are generous. Whether it has been offering to help me move into my apartment or to connect me with someone in the field I’m interested in, my classmates have been happy to help with their time, experience, and resources. I am excited to learn and grow with these individuals for the next two years.

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? A key factor that led me to choose the Kelley School of Business was the Graduate Career Services (GCS) team. When I visited Kelley and met with representatives from GCS, I really liked their emphasis on coaching and mentoring. I was attracted to the layers of support provided by GCS. In addition to a GCS Coach, I also have access to a second-year MBA Peer Coach and an Academy Instructor. Furthermore, I have enjoyed GCS’s emphasis on personal growth along with professional growth. I feel like I could not be in better hands for this crucial part of my career.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?  I am looking forward to joining the Net Impact chapter at Kelley. I have always had a passion for ideas and projects providing positive social impact, and I look forward to collaborating with my peers as we work on initiatives that create meaningful change for the environment and social equality.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  I decided to pursue an MBA after a project in which I collaborated with consultants to automate the department chair hiring process for DC Public Schools. I was impressed by the consultants’ technical skillset and multifaceted approach, but more importantly, I had a lot of fun creating a system that made a significant difference for the organization. As a result, I have been focused on growing an advanced skillset that will allow me to lead projects and make a difference for organizations in the future.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment?  I decided that the MBA was worth the investment after speaking with recent Kelley alums. They spoke in detail about the skills they gained from the Kelley MBA program and described the instances in which they leveraged their new skills to make an immediate impact during their internship and post-MBA experiences. These conversations made it obvious to me that the return on technical knowledge and wide-ranging skills gained through the program would be invaluable to my career.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

  • University of Michigan
  • North Carolina University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Washington University in St. Louis

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I began an initial evaluation of business schools by researching schools with high job placement percentages and high yields into the fields I was interested in. I actually kept the data in an Excel file so that I could compare schools to each other and add more information as I learned more about each one. Once I focused my interest to a handful of schools, I spoke with admissions representatives at MBA conferences and school receptions. I took the time to listen to representatives speak to what they loved most about their program, but I also asked my own questions on how their programs helped students achieve their career goals. After meeting with admissions representatives, I narrowed my list and began to reach out to current students. Students openly shared thoughts on the culture, the professors, the recruitment process, and more. Overall, all of these interactions were crucial in determining my fit at various schools.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment was during my first year as a Teach for America Corps member. I had a conceptual understanding that teaching 200+ students without many resources would be difficult, but entering the classroom proved to be an implausibly different experience. I decided that it was not enough to just deliver math content to students, but it was also my duty to ensure that my students were equipped to perform mathematics at the next academic level. As a result, I attended several learning seminars to improve my skills as a teacher and implemented a multifaceted tool that met the diverse learning needs of my students. Together, we surpassed district benchmarks by 48 percent on the Tennessee End of Course Exam.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?  After I graduate, I plan to be a management consultant for a firm with a strong culture around innovation and learning. I became interested in consulting because I was attracted to the pace and the process of helping organizations grow into high-performing versions of themselves. Ultimately, I believe consulting is a natural extension of my desire to help others reach their end goals.

Where do you see yourself in five years?  I am not entirely sure what the future holds for me, but I do know the kind of experiences I would like to have in the next five years. I would like to be seen as an industry expert, preferably in the nonprofit sector. I hope to lead teams that take on challenging projects to reshape how organizations operate and grow. Personally, I hope to have multiple opportunities to learn from other leaders and continue to contribute positively to my community. 

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