2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Charlotte Pekoske, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Charlotte Pekoske

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

Energetic leader, proud Coast Guard Veteran and wife, and diligent problem solver.”

Hometown: Marquette, MI

Fun fact about yourself: I’m really good at the Etch-a-Sketch! I discovered this talent when I was about seven years old, and have been fine-tuning my skills ever since.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Coast Guard Academy, Bachelor of Science in Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West – Chief of Law Enforcement (Operations Ashore Officer)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Accenture Strategy, Chicago, IL

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture; Accenture Strategy Consulting Development Program (ASCDP)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, MBA Military Veterans Club Chief Veterans Officer, MBA Association Forte Foundation Fellow Member, Women in Business Club Member, Consulting Club MBA Admissions Ambassador for prospective students Assistant Coach, Girls on the Run Student Panel Moderator, Notre Dame’s “Domer for a Day” Prospective Student Event

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As president of Notre Dame’s MBA Military Veterans Club, I worked with club leadership to expand the community service and veteran initiatives that brought so many of us to Notre Dame. In the last year, we raised over $15K for an MBA Veterans Endowment fund, facilitated visits with ten companies and guest speakers and sponsored club members to attend the MBA Veterans Conference. We raised over $2.5K for Wreaths Across America in support of Mishawaka Fairview Cemetery and sponsored / co-sponsored seven additional tailgating and morale events across the program. Our Mendoza and alumni communities provide incredible support to the club, which has allowed our dedicated team of over 30 veterans to make a significant impact across Notre Dame and the greater South Bend area. I am so incredibly proud of the accomplishments of this club and was honored to serve in this leadership role.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During an intense operational period following President Obama’s normalization of the diplomatic relationship with Cuba, I oversaw 460 law enforcement cases across the international maritime border between Cuba and the United States, which resulted in over 8,100 migrants rescued at sea. I had an incredible supervisor and the chance to work with over 50 different ships that performed these missions.

I had a very efficient division that partnered with an accomplished Command Center to manage and direct these operations. In this high-tempo operational environment, I learned the importance of bringing all major stakeholders into the problem-solving process and experienced first-hand that collaboration and camaraderie are essential to achieve remarkable results.

What was your favorite MBA Course? We have some fantastic classes, but one of my favorites was Joe Urbany’s Marketing Research Class. This class conveyed the criticality of differentiating between a symptom and a business problem and taught me how to apply hypothesis testing to analyze trends in consumer buying behavior.

Why did you choose this business school? So many reasons! All signs pointed towards Notre Dame. I have been a Notre Dame football fan since I was born (thanks, Dad), and started my business school search with Mendoza. I was initially drawn to Mendoza’s commitment to pursue Business for the Greater Good, and the program entirely lives up to its mission. In the end, my husband and I decided that Notre Dame would be the best fit for both of us, and he will be graduating from the Notre Dame Law School when I graduate with my MBA.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Make sure you fully understand and sell your strengths, and enjoy the PowerPoint portion of the application. This is a unique part of the process that gives applicants a chance to show their creative side. I recommend providing pictures that help highlight your personality, and find a way to have fun with it!

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Notre Dame is that they didn’t deserve to make the playoffs in football. Clemson even beat Alabama! But really, before I applied to Mendoza, I kept hearing about the amazing alumni network, and that couldn’t be truer. The network is unparalleled and has provided me with incredible opportunities as a student. Notre Dame Alumni clubs across the world actively continue to support and unite the university, fellow alumni and students. I look forward to joining this network in the near future.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I understood how quickly the internship application process begins. I came to business school thinking I would have two years to decide what I wanted to do next. I really wasn’t expecting it to be four months before application deadlines started closing.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Business school opened my eyes to endless opportunities outside of the Coast Guard. It gave me the confidence and education to completely change career paths, significantly expanded my sense of family and opened my eyes to new strengths.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Haley Alexander is the type of servant-leader who never expects appreciation in return for the hours of work that she puts into our program and our classmates. She is the Chief Communications Officer for the MBA program, the President of the Women in Business Club, a volunteer with Business on the Front Lines (providing service in developing countries), and one of the kindest and most empathetic people I know. She entered each of her leadership positions with goals that she has relentlessly pursued over the last year, and I wish I could have one ounce of her business grace.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My husband, Matt, encouraged me to apply for an MBA to further develop my operational management skills. While it was possible to do this in the Coast Guard, he also supported my decision to transition out of the military and has provided consistent support throughout the job search and my two years in the program.

What is your favorite movie about business? Moneyball (2011). This movie conveys the importance of proper problem solving and effective cost management, the transformative power of staffing the right talent (i.e., Pete), and the resounding truth that business analytics can transform any industry, even baseball!

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a high school teacher (through Troops to Teachers).”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? This education is priceless. It is worth much more than I paid and is additionally worth more than the opportunity cost of two years out of the workforce. I would do this again in a heartbeat!

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1) Visit all of the National Parks, 2) Rent a sailboat and visit each of the British Virgin Islands

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I mean, I would love for them to remember me as the hilarious girl with immense talent who always told the best stories … but I think I’ll be remembered as the girl with chronic hiccups who tripped over air and told a lot of dad jokes.

Hobbies? I love to hike, paddle board, bake, fish with my husband (hook and line more than offshore fishing), spin and run with my dogs.

 What made Charlotte such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?  

“Charlotte Pekoske joined the Notre Dame MBA program after eight years of service in the United States Coast Guard. While Mendoza’s core values of service and excellence are often in perfect alignment for military veterans, Charlotte’s efforts in the MBA program demonstrate engagement in the community far beyond the typical student.

In a program with a high emphasis on leadership development and replete with military veterans, perhaps the greatest endorsement of a leader is the opinion of her peers. As a first-year MBA, Charlotte was elected to be President of the MBA Military Veterans Club. Already one of the most active clubs within the Mendoza community, this group continued to grow and extend their influence to serve both the veteran, local, and Notre Dame communities under Charlotte’s leadership and vision.

In addition to the veteran community, Charlotte served as an advocate for women in the MBA program through efforts with Women in Business and for Mendoza at large through personal outreach, recruiting travel, and on-campus events. Through these groups, Charlotte also shared insights for other future consultants, drawing on her internship experience with Accenture’s Strategy group.

Charlotte’s dedication and positive energy added a spark to an already strong class of her peers. Her easy ability to build personal connections and rapport helped drive the program forward through multiple extracurricular activities, in addition to enhancing the learning of others while drawing insights from her consulting exposure and military service.”

Joe Sweeney

Associate Director of Admissions & MBA Military Veterans Club Advisor



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