2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Kayla Lorraine Demers, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Kayla Lorraine Demers

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

“An enthusiastic, homegrown New Hampshirite dedicated to family, friends, and shaking up the status quo.”

Hometown: Randolph, NH

Fun fact about yourself: I am licensed to drive a motorcycle. I tend to be risk-averse when it comes to personal safety, but I am committed to pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. Plus, I grew up with my dad and brother driving motorcycles, so I had to prove to myself that I could do it too.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Trinity College, B.A. in American Studies with Minors in Hispanic Studies and Architectural Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Ogilvy & Mather as an Integrated Media Supervisor.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I interned at Samsung Electronics America as an MBA intern on the TV Product Marketing team.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll be returning to Samsung as a member of the company’s Leadership Development Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Elected to Tuck Student Board as Club Chair, overseeing clubs on campus
  • Selected as Tuck Deanery Fellow, working with colleagues, faculty, and the deanery on a curriculum-related project
  • Selected as a TA for Marketing Core Course
  • Selected as a Committee Lead for Admitted Students Weekend
  • Member of the Women in Business Club, the Volunteer Club, and the Marketing Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My first-year fall study group was very diverse – we were comprised of three former finance gurus, an engineer, a consultant, and a marketing agency person (me). As a team, we had many finance-related assignments. I always felt like I was contributing, but was never the one who delivered that ‘aha!’ solution. One week, I offered to spearhead a complex financial modeling assignment. After many hours, I shared my results with the group – and the subject matter experts confirmed that my model was correct! It was such an encouraging moment for me, confirming that I could indeed expand my finance toolkit through time and effort.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my personal and professional growth at Ogilvy, manifested by one of my final client presentations before leaving for Tuck. I had a very difficult boss – we had very different communication styles – and I had an equally challenging client who was known for being stubborn and demanding. The client had continually mentioned that our presentation decks were too “heavy,” but my boss disagreed with her. After much convincing, I got my team’s support and we presented in a new format to the client team. They were thrilled and, in fact, passed along the deck to their internal marketing team to use as a template moving forward. I had been determined to not only elevate our team’s quality of work but also to build trust and rapport with our “tough” client. I knew I had succeeded.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was an experiential one: Tuck’s Global OnSite Consulting Course. I, along with three other Tuck students, had the opportunity to work for a small, family-owned Bed & Breakfast located in the rainforests of Costa Rica. We worked on the project at Tuck for the first months and then spent three weeks with the clients in their community. It was the most rewarding experience that I’ve had at Tuck, personally and professionally.

My biggest takeaway was that we, in U.S. MBA programs, must recognize that “optimal business strategies” can mean something different around the world. Initially, my team had looked at our clients’ financial statements and quickly planned to recommend labor cuts – their housekeeping costs were too high. We soon learned, however, that our clients employed extra people because of each employee’s personal situation. Our clients prided themselves on their community relationships, and the positive externalities they created by being a viable employer were far more important to them than the increased labor costs. “Optimal” is not the same across industries, companies, or countries – and the rules we learn in business school might sometimes be benchmarks rather than mandates.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Tuck for several reasons. First, I have two wonderful mentors who graduated from Tuck. Since they were still gushing about the program so many years later, I knew that this school had something magical. I was seeking an intimate, graduate-only institution that prided itself on personal connections and high expectations. Plus, I wanted to attend a school where everyone fully “opted-in” to the b-school experience. I knew that I could have applied to Columbia or NYU Stern and have remained in the city, switching out a full-time job for business school, but I wanted to be enveloped by the experience and wanted my fellow classmates to feel equally immersed. Lastly, I wanted the opportunity to be closer to family while at school. Tuck was and has been, the best choice I could have made.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? I would say to an applicant: “Be clear about why you want an MBA, why Tuck is the perfect place for your business school experience, and why now is the right time.” I would also encourage him/her to get to know Tuck before submitting an application – come visit, connect with current students and alumni, get a feel for the community here – and then make those authentic touchpoints come to life in the application.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Growing up in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I was blessed with a ski mountain 20 minutes away. It wasn’t until I moved to New York that I discovered that people would drive hours for skiing. Some Tuck alums boast about how the school is right next to Killington. When I think of Upper Valley skiing, my mind reverts to my 20-minute baseline. For the record: Killington is farther than 20 minutes from Tuck.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I would have better understood the nuanced networks between companies and top MBA programs. I had learned a little about core schools and how different schools catered to a primary set of industries, but I did not fully realize the loaded term that is “company recruiting.”

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Absolutely. I have been transformed by this institution as well as the student body. In being at Tuck, I have learned how to be vulnerable – and how to lean into those moments of discomfort. I have learned to think critically about my strengths and weaknesses and to actively seek opportunities for self-improvement. I have been able to broaden my knowledge, from accounting concepts to a classmate’s account of a personal tragedy, developing me into a more informed, empathetic, and determined global citizen.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Christina Louis: This woman is unstoppable in so many ways. She is the perfect combination of sociable, conscientious, and determined. She came to Tuck never having set foot on ice or on the ski slope – within the first year, she became a master at both ice hockey AND alpine skiing. She also wanted to pursue strategy consulting, and so she practiced case after case to land a summer internship and consequent full-time role at a major firm. She THEN proceeded to share her recruiting prowess by becoming a Consulting Club Chair in our second year – no small task. Christina is a magnetic force, and I can’t wait to see where she takes us in this world.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I had been wrestling with the idea of business school, but one of my best friends in New York really tipped the decision for me. She knew that I was frustrated in my current career path, and she brainstormed with me what my life would look like if I pursued a business degree. She helped me to weigh the pros and cons and then served as a huge source of support during the application process. When I got accepted to Tuck, she said, “This is it! This is going to change your life.” She wasn’t wrong.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wishing I had.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I don’t think I can put a number on this experience because it is not just about the MBA, but it’s about the knowledge, connections, and family that you gain along the way. Tuck is worth more than the bill – that’s for sure!

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • I want to live in Europe for at least two years – the world is too big and life is too short to stay within the United States
  • I want to learn how to play the piano. I don’t have musical genes… all the more reason for a good challenge!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “That gem – she always had a smile on her face, took the time to wave ‘hello’ to everyone, and made sure that the work she executed both inside and outside the classroom was her best.”

Hobbies? I love exercising, spending quality time with friends and family, curling up with a good book, and eating endless amounts of almonds and Greek yogurt.

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

“I am the Senior Associate Director of the MBA Program at Tuck, and in this capacity, I have worked closely with Kayla on a number of projects. She is a wonderful combination of energy and specificity; she is equally comfortable managing the logistical aspects of a project and simultaneously inspiring her colleagues to make Tuck the best place it can be.

Kayla attended Trinity College, graduating with the distinction of Class Salutatorian and Presidential Scholar with a degree in American History and minors in Architectural and Hispanic Studies. While enrolled, she was a member of the Honor Council, the Activities Council, the Relay for Live Planning Committee, the Fox Mentoring Group, and the Food Committee. Prior to Tuck, she worked for both Media Storm, LLC and Ogilvy Mather, and participated in New York Cares, NY Women in Communications, and Young Professionals.

While at Tuck, Kayla was elected by her peers to serve on the Tuck Student Board as a Club Representative. This requires her to be the primary liaison between the student board, the administration, and over 70 student-led organizations. Kayla is one of the best club reps I have worked with in my 15 years at Tuck. She is organized, detail-focused, and diligent. She has spearheaded the revision of the student handbook, which required working closely with both students and staff. She has managed all of the communications with club leaders, including the club audit process. She planned both of the annual club fairs, which required creating new digital platforms, new informational brochures, a new format, and new methods of communication. She also handles the transitional leadership meetings each spring which are instrumental in educating incoming club leaders. Kayla is passionate about updating and improving the documents and processes in place to manage clubs. Never content to simply use existing procedures, she is eager to have a positive impact on all that she touches, with the overall goal of improving the student experience. In addition to her work with Tuck clubs, she is also a Deanery Fellow tasked with working with both the Curriculum Review Committee and the Curriculum Implementation Committee, and a member of the Women in Business Club, the Volunteer Club, and the Marketing Club.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working closely with Kayla. She is enthusiastic and full of energy. She is also committed to leaving Tuck better that she found it. Many students set out to fulfill this mission, only to be consumed by their own busy lives. Kayla is one of the few students I know who will actually accomplish real change at Tuck through her diligence, passion, and willingness to build rapport with fellow students, faculty, and staff. Tuck has been lucky to benefit from her work ethic, passion, and commitment.”

Betsy Winslow, EdD.

Senior Associate Director, MBA Program

Adjunct Asst. Prof. of Business Administration

Tuck School at Dartmouth



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