2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Orvil Savery, University of Missouri (Trulaske)

Orvil Savery

University of Missouri, Trulaske College of Business

“An unequivocal dreamer with a passionate curiosity for life. Jamaican-born, U.S.-raised, globally-influenced.”

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Fun fact about yourself: I once cosplayed as the Scarlet Spider/Ben Reilly at the Kansas City, Missouri comic con. There is a long history behind it, but basically, the Scarlet Spider/Ben Reilly is a clone of the original Spider-Man/Peter Parker. I made the costume by hand the night before the event and the next day I had a full costume consisting of a blue sleeveless hoodie over a red bodysuit and mask. I also wore a sweet utility belt and wrist web-shooters…and you just found out how nerdy I am.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Missouri, Bachelor of Arts in Business/East Asian studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Prior to becoming a Crosby MBA candidate, I had the honor of sharpening my analytical and decision-making skills at Veterans United Home Loans in Columbia, Missouri. Veterans United (VU) is a full-service mortgage lender that primarily originates VA loans. The work environment is one where mistakes are an opportunity for learning, where full training is available, and culture is embedded in the DNA. As soon as you walk into any of the buildings, you start to feel the culture. The walls are brightly painted and the values are center stage. When I came in for my first interview, I was hit in the face with a Nerf bullet and when I received my job offer I was simultaneously offered ice cream by my prospective boss Erik Morse. I jokingly tell people, “The ice cream won me over.” During my time at Veterans United, I’ve worked in various roles. As a recruiter, I hired hundreds of people into key roles, as an HR generalist I provided strategic and consultative human resource advice to over 200 employees, and most recently as a business analyst/D&I specialist, I developed and implemented strategies for recruiting diverse talent, achieving a 10% net increase of racial diversity in key departments. Deciding to leave and get my MBA wasn’t an easy decision, but doing so has given me the opportunity to leverage the skills I honed at Veterans United. I couldn’t have picked a better company to learn, grow and contribute to these past six years.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Over the summer of 2018, I assumed the role of Organization Effectiveness Intern at Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, Oregon. During my time there, I worked in their Data Center Group (DCG), Intel’s high growth area that develops workload-optimized platforms for computing, storage, network, and related functions, which are designed for enterprise and government, cloud, and communications service providers. In DCG, I was responsible for identifying unique insights that could be useful in making programmatic changes to their technical leadership process (employees grade 7+). This project included evaluation of Intel’s critical skills pipeline as well as key components of the technical leadership process. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my manager and the team I worked with. With their guidance, I analyzed employee data spanning five years and 21 countries to identify trends in the current leadership development process and utilized it to make recommendations for improvement and optimization.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will join KPMG  in the windy city of Chicago, Illinois. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to help companies as they navigate challenging shifts in their organization.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: The meaningful relationships I’ve built over the years have taught me the importance of servant leadership and the value of executing that consistently and with intent. During my MBA studies, I’ve helped provide guidance to co-ops in Nicaragua, leading various teams in case competitions, and taken the initiative to spread the Mizzou name at global summits. In addition to these experiences, I currently serve as the 2nd-year policy representative for our Crosby MBA student association, where I advocate for student programming and curriculum.

Roles:

MBA World Summit – Alumni

Graduate Assistant – Vasey Academy, specializing in program growth and expansion

International Consulting Experience – Nicaragua

Crosby MBA Association – 2nd-Year Rep

Awards:

Mizzou 18

John Sublett Logan Foundation MBA Graduate Scholarship

GPTW

National Society of Diversity – Leader of Inclusion + Innovation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Earlier in 2018, I had the opportunity to attend the MBA World Summit in Cape Town, South Africa. The MBA World Summit is an annual global leadership event that brings together 100 of the most talented MBA students worldwide to push future innovation and actively participate in shaping ideas that benefit local community business around the world.

The summit is co-created by the students and focuses on the three pillars: 1) Nurturing a collaborative culture; 2) Facilitating high-impact exchange; and 3) Championing interdisciplinary approaches to global business and societal problems. We debated pressing issues such as clear water or global aid, but also future challenges such as AI’s impact on society and innovation in developing countries. We worked on actionable plans to achieve these goals. I had the opportunity to collaborate with an incredible array of intelligent people from a variety of backgrounds on interesting problems local entrepreneurs faced in Cape Town. Specifically, my team helped an entrepreneur through the process of lean model canvas to launch a new business focused on tourism and innovation.

Being one of the top 100 students (top 5%) was not only a monumental achievement for me but also meaningful to the higher Ed institution I attended. The Summit remains the pinnacle of my MBA career. The experience I gained, as well as the insight and long-lasting friendships, illuminate the tremendous possibilities that we as MBA students, advocates, and graduates can aspire to and ultimately achieve.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Great values and a caring and fair workplace environment are the foundations of a good company culture. That is why I am most proud of the impact I’ve made with my work around diversity and corporate culture.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to present a TEDx Talk on “Why Culture Matters” with a colleague I deeply admire and respect, Loreli Wilson. The talk was centered on the equation that Culture + Needs = Initiative. We argued that this equation, if implemented, can fundamentally change the way companies recruit, retain, and enhance diversity in their workplace. Sharing your ideas to people who are eager to hear them is truly a humbling experience. It’s a golden opportunity to address the issues and to stand up to principles that you claim to believe in.

In regard to diversity, I am a founding member of Diversity Awareness Partnership Columbia (DAP), Columbia’s first diversity nonprofit organization focused on diversity and inclusion conversations and programs. At first, it was just Loreli and me meeting to discuss ways to improve diversity, using a local Mexican restaurant as our meeting spot. After a few years of hard work, we eventually gained traction when we formed a partnership with an organization in St. Louis. This enabled us to leverage their infrastructure and thus DAP Columbia was born. During my time on the board, I was able to help support not only the inception of DAP, but also drive the vision for generating conversations, ideas, and actions that could impact significant change. DAP Columbia has since evolved to become the “Inclusive Impact Institute”, doing work with our local police department, government, and school system. The mission to create diverse and inclusive communities through collaboration, education, and engagement still continues.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was my management independent study with Professor Scott McNair. During the course, I worked as an independent consultant to a multimillion-dollar manufacturing company specializing in B2B pizza crust sales. My task was to come up with a plan on how to strategically grow the company while taking advantage of shifting trends and increased competition.

Before this project, I literally knew nothing about pizza. Fast forward three months and I’m pretty confident I could run a Little Caesars Pizza in my sleep. For three months, I worked on a holistic solution that could help the company identify new sources of revenue and ways to reduce cost. What was truly beneficial about this course was the hands-off approach that Professor McNair integrated into his curriculum. Growth only comes under pressure in unfamiliar environments and the independent study course gave me the latitude to experiment with different ideas and concepts and then sandbox them with analysis techniques that I learned on the fly.

Why did you choose this business school? My decision to pursue my MBA at Mizzou all started with a message from our previous Director of Admissions, Tad Brinkerhoff. I owe a lot of my current and future success to him because Tad happened to reach out to me at the same time I was thinking about getting my MBA. Since Mizzou is my alma mater, I was seriously considering it, but it wasn’t until he and I met a few times to discuss the program that I really saw it as my next step. The more we talked, the more I learned about the Crosby MBA, its advantages, and its three pillars: Community, Curriculum, and Careers. To be honest it was the best decision I could have made. Over the past two years, I personally have had many opportunities to impact people in ways I never would have imagined. From independent consulting to working with a global real estate company to helping various startups achieve their dreams, the program truly delivers on a rigorous curriculum. The strong sense of community has exceeded my expectations as well. There is an emphasis placed on problem-solving, thinking outside-the-box and in pushing yourself regardless of the outcome. The number of successful Crosby MBA graduates across the globe exemplify the value of the program and I feel honored to be one of them.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Give generously and give often. What I’ve found to be true is that those that succeed in the program (and life) are constantly looking for ways to add value. Given this, the best piece of advice I can give is to take some time to truly understand your experiences, your goals, and most importantly how you can add value to the program. This exercise is important because it helps you to not only articulate what you plan to get out of business school but helps you pinpoint the direct impact you plan to make. Once you’re in, then it’s up to you to deliver on that promise. The great thing is that Mizzou provides you with the tools you need to be successful so it makes the promise easy to keep.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There is a myth/misconception that rankings should fundamentally dictate value. What’s been true for me at Mizzou is the value they place on building the right connections and relationships for its students and the systems to which they enable that to happen. It has been a tremendous experience.

MBA Alumni often describe the business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I recently had two friends in my cohort say they would work for me if I ever started my own company. That was eye-opening since I’ve always been somewhat of a reluctant leader. Not because I lacked the capabilities or competence, but because I’ve been so used to just putting my head down and doing the work. Over the past two years, however, a shift has occurred in my mindset. Reluctance morphed into eagerness and what I’ve learned is that being a leader does not mean having to know everything.

It’s important to recognize, encourage and promote others as experts. Trust your colleagues and give them the autonomy to be creative and to do excellent work. Your team is highly capable and competent, so we as leaders simply need to provide the direction, so that their excellent work contributes to a shared purpose. It sounds simple, and sometimes it is. I truly believe that with leadership and vision we can change the world.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This question is really tough to answer because I genuinely admire every one of my classmates. I would first like to pay my respects to a few who have truly made my experience rich and fulfilling. In no particular order, they include: David Campos, Shraddha Hegde, Swati Gupta, Tyler Henley, Will Galvin, Luigi Rosa, Rebecca Hayes, Sam Richards, Michaela Sosby, Paige Dilmore, George Brand, Jesse Schuller, and Callie Gunderson. Mark my words, these people will do great things.

That being said, if I can only choose one, I would choose my Malaysian brother from another mother Chi-Lang Woo (Lycus). Lycus is one of those people who can work ridiculously hard on every project and still look for ways to improve it. I’m constantly in awe at his ability to take a complex problem and condense it down into a manageable solution. He is always willing to share an idea or a concept and never hesitates to take on a new challenge. As you’re reading this, I’m sure he is probably trying to figure out what business startup we should launch next. Lycus has truly been an asset to the program and words can’t thank him enough for how much he has contributed to my MBA journey. I consider myself a better person by knowing him.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? A number of people have collectively influenced my decision to pursue business in college. For instance, my mentors (August Nielson and Amanda Andrade) have always supported my professional journey and my decision to pursue my MBA. But the ever-present support of my parents has been the most influential. My parents (Michael and Stephanie Savery), both blue-collar workers who have taught me the importance of commitment and what it takes to succeed in business. There is such a sense of pride and dignity that comes with that kind of work: getting dirty symbolizes your effort and proves your worth. They have both moved up in the ranks to become managers. In watching them, I learned the value of relentlessly working on developing my skills, and to jump at any opportunity to grow and learn. The MBA program was exactly that – an opportunity to accelerate my business learning and to gain a broader range of skills, so I jumped at the opportunity. I feel privileged to have them and my mentors in my corner.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…either in real estate or be a traveling DJ. How about a traveling Real-estate, DJ, is that a thing?”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I tend to think there is a misnomer that getting an MBA is an automatic hall pass to a six-figure income. To be blunt, it’s not. I believe it’s an amazing opportunity to push yourself, to learn, to make connections and to dive deeper into a journey of personal and professional development. There can certainly be a large financial payoff, but it’s more important to truly understand the reasons you are there and how you can add value.

That’s why I feel that my MBA has been invaluable. In addition to receiving a good education, I was able to participate in some pretty amazing things while at school. Most importantly, however, I’ve met incredible people who challenged me and enabled me to grow in astounding ways. Looking back on it all, there is no question that they were the ones who made my experience so great and I’m very thankful to have met each and every one of them.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Go to Tomorrow Land in Belgium-Yes, I rave hard
  2. Spend a few weeks eating my way through Europe-Yum

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a capable and empathic leader that instilled gratitude, kindness, and vision in those he was able to reach.

Hobbies? I am a consummate learner, so I spend a lot of time reading and digesting things that challenge and expand my worldview. When I’m not doing that, I’m either working out, traveling, hanging with family, planning my next real estate deal or breakdancing badly.

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

“Orvil represents why I love my job in career services; he had a big goal and worked tirelessly to make it happen. He wanted to work in consulting with one of the top companies in the country, and he knew he had some work to do, particularly because he had been told that those companies only considered students from higher ranked MBA programs. In Orvil’s mind, that meant he just needed to work and hustle harder.

Orvil is bright, talented, and was actively pursued by top companies around the country, but he had very specific expectations for what he wanted in the next step of his career. So he toiled long hours with the case competition team, spent extra hours in my office working on case interview preparation, and reached out to several faculty and alumni, asking how he could improve. Orvil used all the resources available to him as an MBA student and it not only influenced his peers, as they learned from his example but also paid off with his offer from KPMG. What is admirable is that he did this all while working full-time, carrying a full class load, and also leading the local Columbia community. Orvil also supports a diversity institute that evolved from an organization he created before starting his MBA. The Inclusive Impact Institute will be an important part of our town for years to come. Orvil leaves a wake of positive change everywhere he goes, and he does it with a smile; I often marvel at his ability to appear to squeeze more than 24 hours out of a day. I could not be more proud of him and what he will do with his career.”

Meredith Shaw
Director of Graduate Career Services and Corporate Engagement
Trulaske College of Business

DON’T MISS: POETS&QUANTS’ HONOR ROLL OF THE WORLD’S 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAs GRADUATES IN THE CLASS OF 2019