2019 MBAs To Watch: Kelly Huston, Michigan State (Broad)

Kelly Huston

Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

“Passionate, curious, hungry (literally), talkative, proud, controlling (at times), dependable, quirky, Harry-Potter-enthusiast, reader.”

Hometown: Glenview, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve traveled to 40+ countries

Undergraduate School and Degree: Elon University, BA Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Ernst & Young, Senior Consultant – People Advisory Services

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Marriott International, Bethesda MD

Where will you be working after graduation? Caesars Entertainment, President’s Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Communication Coach, Special Topics in Business Management
  • Team Advisor, Leadership Development Exercise (LDX)
  • Director of Operations, Spartan Consulting
  • Vice President of Fundraising, MBA Association
  • GA Business Communication, Undergrad Business Department
  • 1st Year Cohort Representative, MBA Association
  • TA Hospitality Business Management, Undergrad Marketing Department
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, New Entrant

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Teaching my MGT 250 Business Communication class has been the most challenging and has led to incredible self-learning. Whenever a student of mine has a successful interview or improves their writing or presentation skills, I feel more proud than I have in any other role in or outside of the program. It feels like I can make a real difference both now and as a future manager.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My role in planning EY’s inaugural Professional Women’s Network “Build Your Own Future” event: we brought together 200+ associates, clients, and powerful female leaders from around the Chicagoland area for an open, honest dialogue and networking.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Charles Hadlock, Finance: he matched my effort – if I was willing to work to learn, he was willing to put in the extra effort to teach me

What was your favorite MBA Course? Managing the Workforce. It was a full semester of case study learning about managing different situations and teams. As someone incredibly nervous about entering a management role with direct reports, this gave me a sense of confidence in my capabilities.  

Why did you choose this business school? I love the collaborative approach to learning; at EY, I was always part of a project team and find it imperative to learn the nuances of working in that environment – I love that MSU puts a focus on that. I also had the chance to sit in on a class taught by Dr. Hollenbeck at admitted students weekend and knew I wanted to be a part of his LDX class!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? It’s important to know if you’re a natural collaborator – Broad is a team-intensive program, so if you have that skillset it will shine through in interviews and give you a leg up in the application process.

What is the biggest myth about your school? It’s a supply chain program. While this is true, they have opportunities for students pursuing all shapes and sizes of opportunities if you’re willing to seek them out!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? After having a salary – two years without one is HARD – I don’t recommend an MBA purely to explore your options. Know what you want and ensure an MBA is the best route to help get you there.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? My biggest regrets in undergrad were that I didn’t participate enough inside and outside of the classroom and that I didn’t take advantage of the experiences of the faculty. I think business school has been transformative because I learned how to be confident in speaking up, in making connections with peers and faculty, and in building a reputation for myself amongst my peers.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nate King – he’s smart, dependable, and has a calming presence that impacts all of our peers, subsequently bringing out their best sides. I honestly wouldn’t have made it through the first year of this program without him on my core team.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One of the best managers I ever worked with pursued an MBA after 10+ years on the job. He loved the networking, the diversity of opinion, and the foundational learning – all things I wanted while pivoting careers.

What is your favorite movie about business? American Gangster – Don’t worry, I didn’t learn ethics from this! Rather, I learned not to feel limited if underestimated; you can stand on your strengths and skills, outperforming those who don’t believe you are capable.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? The excessive use of NPV to validate everything – I feel like I can’t even go grocery shopping anymore without NPV-ing my produce

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in a higher position and with a higher salary – but without the confidence I developed here at MSU, which is worth so much more to me.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I’ve had a great experience and consider the time and money spent worth it – but I think if you ask me the same question in 20 years, you’ll see the true value of my MBA education; not just in my own career, but as I support the growth of my now much larger network!

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1. 30 under 30 (or similar) recognition for what I’m about to do in hospitality. 2. Travel to Antarctica (and therefore all 7 continents!)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a dependable and voracious teammate that facilitated both learning and networking as they pursue their passions.

Hobbies? I started knitting to deal with the stress of an MBA program — it turns out grandma hobbies are GREAT meditation alternatives and I highly recommend. And to bring it back to NPV…Netflix, Pinot, Vinyasa.

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

“Kelly is a dynamo that any MBA would be proud to have on their team. From even before she was an MBA student, she challenged the status quo in our program in the spirit of process improvement.  Some of her program suggestions as a first-year student made immediate impacts behind the scenes in how curriculum is managed and executed. She is an academic superstar that can excel in any professional situation, demonstrated over a number of roles in the MBA program. She balances her technical and professional acumen with a real concern for the MBA program and her classmates. She can always be counted on to assist her colleagues through trying times. While managing a herculean schedule, Kelly continues to make time to support any way she can. If an MBA student event only has five attendees, one of them will be Kelly, assisting the event manager with anything they need to be successful.

Kelly will excel in any leadership role she undertakes because she has the foundation to succeed paired with the ability to communicate effectively in any situation. She is a change agent and a difference maker.”

Wayne Hutchison


Are you a friend of Kelly? Leave a comment to congratulate her.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.