Meet Georgia Tech’s MBA Class Of 2020

Ben Crom

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business

“Navy veteran, avid bicyclist and rugby player, interested in the strategic impacts of business decisions.”

Hometown: Army Brat (but mostly Texas, Germany, and Colorado)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have sailed through three hurricanes (two Cat-3s and one Cat-5) in the middle of the Atlantic and traveled with the President (Trump).

Undergraduate School and Major: United States Merchant Marine Academy, Maritime Operations and Technology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Navy, Flag Aide to the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I had the opportunity to serve as a flag aide to two different three-star directors of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. In this capacity, I was able to travel with President Trump; sit in on meetings with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State; prepare and accompany the Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and witness government and international relations at an extremely high level.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Adaptable. They all come from unique and varied backgrounds, but have quickly endeared themselves to one another and jumped headfirst into the program. I am humbled by their backgrounds and accomplishments and how seamlessly the class integrated into a close-knit organization.

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?  As a transitioning Navy veteran, I knew that career services would be crucial for my post-MBA plans. Throughout my admissions process, Georgia Tech highlighted the community at Scheller and that they didn’t want to settle for me “just” landing a job; they wanted to push me to land my “dream career.” It was clear from the get-go that I wasn’t just an admissions number to the school and that Scheller really cared about my career, my MBA experience, and helping to facilitate the best decision for myself and my ambitions.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m already getting involved in the MBA Veterans Club at Scheller. Among many other efforts, we support deployed units by sending them care packages. I’m hoping to pay it forward to the folks downrange the same way I was supported from the home-front when I was deployed. I’m also really looking forward to the international practicums that Scheller offers; it’s an opportunity to work a real corporate problem in a business and cultural environment outside the United States.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? When I was working at the Pentagon, I would observe decisions being made that had major impacts to organizations, nations, and people.  Some of these decisions were counter-intuitive from the third-party outsider; I wanted to know what metrics upon which these decisions were based. I also knew that if I wanted to continue an upward career progression, a graduate degree would be paramount.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The only other graduate degree I was considering was law school. Ultimately, I decided that an MBA is in demand in every single industry. Leaders who can foster cohesion across multicultural organizations and teams are almost recession-proof. Even law-firms need the skills learned in an MBA program. It was the marketability of the MBA credentials that led me to go all-in on pursuing the degree.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina, and University of Georgia

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Career Services was the first factor I used to evaluate the programs I applied to and Scheller has consistently rated among the highest in the world. I also did a lot of research into where graduates end up after the MBA program and if the school kept in close contact with alumni. I predominately used the school’s websites and conversations with alumni to research the schools. I also took it upon myself to visit each of the schools I was applying to; I cannot stress that exercise to a prospective MBA candidate enough: you must visit the schools and meet the people! Scheller College was unique from other schools in that the school’s visitation program was almost entirely student-led. The student body has completely bought into the program and it shows. From as varied and diverse backgrounds as we have all come, I couldn’t imagine a better fit for me.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?  I can’t remember one specific moment that defined me, but I would submit that my childhood as an Army Brat moving all over the world shaped my cultural and interpersonal curiosity. Moving every three years to new places forced me to become adaptable; it forced me to foster a curiosity about people and cultures. This curiosity continues today and is a major reason why I chose Scheller: a program that highlights the international perspective and endeavors to recruit as diverse a student body as any school I have researched.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I am still figuring this one out. I am leaning towards management consulting or working in the operations or supply chain sector of a major corporation in the defense industry. I am fascinated by how strategic decisions are implemented at a tactical level and how tactical feedback loops inform those strategic decisions. I hope to be working “big-picture” type problem-sets in the corporate world.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Climbing the corporate ladder, taking on more and more difficult and complex problem-sets but, most likely sitting in some lounge at some nondescript airport typing up some report hoping that the next flight is the one that puts me over the next frequent-flier status tier.

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