2019 MBAs To Watch: Tristan Loiselle, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Tristan Loiselle

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Wisconsin sports fan and private equity professional who loves his family, traveling, movies, and BBQ.”

Hometown: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: Before attending Kellogg, I had never flown over an ocean and have now visited 15 countries outside of North America.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Macalester College, BA in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Directly out of undergrad, I spent a few years in investment banking at Lazard. After that, I joined a private equity firm called Stone Arch Capital in Minneapolis, MN.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I interned at a private equity firm called Gauge Capital in Dallas, Texas – I couldn’t have asked for a better summer opportunity. I ultimately decided to go to business school because I wanted to double down on a career in private equity. I was seeking a firm that had a good culture with great people, that was assertive at putting capital to work in a strategic and thoughtful way and that ultimately, I could see myself at for a long time – Gauge exceeded expectations on all of these fronts.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining Gauge full time as a Vice President this fall.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am co-president of the Kellogg Private Equity Club, a social co-chair of my section, a teaching assistant, a KWEST leader, a Kellogg Cares Day Volunteer, and a Kellogg Accepted Students Buddy.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My involvement with the Kellogg Private Equity Club has certainly been the most rewarding. My primary focus coming into business school was on pursuing a long-term career in private equity post-graduation. In an attempt to engross myself in the PE community here at Kellogg, I was very involved with the club my first year, which led me to become one of the co-presidents of the club in my second year. Because I was fortunate enough to intern at my ideal firm and receive an offer at the beginning of my second year, I have been able to dedicate a large portion of my time to the club. I’ve been focused on paying it forward and helping both first-years recruits for summer internships as well as second-year and 1Y classmates recruit for full-time positions. I am proud to be a part of the Kellogg PE community and it has been a great year for Kellogg in regards to post-MBA PE placement.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I would have to say graduating from Kellogg. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, being admitted to and attending a top tier MBA program is an accomplishment I am very proud of.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My personal favorite was Mitchell Petersen. While professor Petersen is unequivocally brilliant, he is also extremely passionate about the growth of his students. Coming from a finance background, I came to Kellogg with the mindset of taking a few finance classes as possible. In my first quarter, I took my mandatory finance class with professor Petersen and absolutely loved his teaching style. I was then inclined to take his very popular Financial Strategy and Tax course, which was a phenomenal experience. Not surprisingly, he won the Faculty Impact Award that quarter, which is determined by the Kellogg students and given to only a handful of professors for going the extra mile in creating a fantastic classroom experience and having a lasting impression on their students.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Negotiations with the legendary Victoria Medvec. Professor Medvec’s class has historically been one of the most expensive classes – in regards to bid points – at Kellogg. From the insightful lectures to the entertaining stories, I certainly now know why. The class is very experiential, as Professor Medvec encourages you to get out of your comfort zone and participate in both controlled, predetermined negotiations against classmates as well as real-life negotiations outside of the classroom.

The particular lesson I found most insightful was the power of providing multiple equivalent simultaneous offers that fractionate large, complex issues. Whether you have a significant amount of negotiating power or almost none at all, you should always be able to reach a Pareto optimal outcome. This can be very difficult if you do not take a very calculated and thorough approach, especially if the issues being negotiated are complex. By offering several options that vary the issues at hand, you can collect an abundance of information pertaining to your opponent’s priorities. This will allow you to make more informed trade-offs as you discover which items are worth more to each side.

The only negative I can think of regarding this class is that my wife also took it with me as she insisted she remains the best negotiator in the house…

Why did you choose this business school? I was seeking a business school experience that would allow me to broaden my skill set beyond the world of finance. I had spent almost ten years across my undergraduate and working years engrossed in finance and accounting. Quite frankly, I needed to broaden my exposure to other facets of business such as strategy, leadership, and operations. As I transition into a traditional post-MBA PE role, I will be working with and leading management teams, sitting on company boards, evaluating and negotiating new investment opportunities, developing and presenting investment theses, and driving value creation in my portfolio companies; all of these responsibilities will demand a qualitatively- and leadership-oriented skillset for me to succeed. Kellogg’s reputation and points of emphasis revolve around these crucial skills – leadership, strategy, negotiation, selling, etc. Thanks to equal parts thoughtful planning and luck during my time at Kellogg, I will have taken some of the best classes Kellogg has to offer on these very topics: Personal Leadership Insights (“PLI”), Negotiations with Professor Medvec, Selling Yourself and Your Ideas with Professor Wortmann and more. I hope to take the lessons learned from these incredible classes and apply them to my future engagements in a way that will allow me and my firm to be successful.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Some of the best advice any candidate can receive is to start early. There are so many wonderful things that Kellogg has to offer that you’ll want to give yourself enough time to learn about as many of them as possible before applying. While it is important to highlight in your application why Kellogg is the ideal school for you to achieve your career goals, you’ll also want to illustrate how you will positively contribute to the Kellogg community.

What is the biggest myth about your school? That Kellogg is purely a marketing school. While Kellogg’s marketing department and group of professors are great, there are numerous other very high caliber departments such as the strategy, management and organizations (“MORS”), finance, and operations. With that being said, what makes Kellogg so great is that it has so much more to offer beyond simply the academics, including almost countless leadership, club, travel and cultural immersion opportunities.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? It has helped solidify my long-term career goals. Coming out of undergrad, my 5+ year plan was to progress from investment banking to private equity to business school, where I would reassess my long-term plan. I’ve always been confident that I would want to spend a long-term career in PE, but understood that much could change in 5+ years. After spending time exploring new courses and experiences, business school has reaffirmed my passion for private equity.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? That’s easy, my entire section – The Buckets! They’re an incredible group of super talented, thoughtful, fun individuals who have truly embraced and made the most of the Kellogg Business School experience. The (unofficial) best section on campus includes several founders of already successful start-ups, the 2019 Kellogg class president, a doctor, a US Army Reconnaissance Troop Commander, a ballet dancer, a 4-minute mile runner, a former member (and founder) of a band that shared record labels with Taylor Swift, and one of my best friends at Kellogg who currently serves as CFO of his family’s winery, though he’ll also be joining one of the most prestigious PE firms in Chicago after graduation. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to share my business school experience with.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother has been an incredible source of inspiration for me. Without a college degree, she rose the corporate ladder for over 20 years at a tech company in my hometown where she became the most senior female at the firm and managed over 90 people. In the heart of the Dotcom Bubble, she was, unfortunately, let go during major layoffs. My mother didn’t let this stop her from continuing to find success in her career. Quite different from her prior role, she eventually became the controller for a successful industrials company also in my hometown. My mother has had to deal with a variety of adversity during her career, from gender discrimination to being turned down solely because she lacked a degree. I can’t help but credit my mother for both my positive attitude and much of my success in the business world because she never used these obstacles as an excuse to complain, but rather used them as a learning opportunity for her five children.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short. Always be aware of conflicts of interest. Understanding how individuals are incentivized is key to understanding how they will likely act.   

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? FOMO. While I, of course, knew what this meant before attending business school, it truly took on a whole new meaning at Kellogg.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…taking a year off to compete in The Amazing Race? In all seriousness, I would likely be working in private equity in some capacity.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Attend a Super Bowl. Not only do my wife and I love the Green Bay Packers, but we’re huge NFL fans in general.
  2. Serve as an officer on the board of Special Olympics. My parents encouraged me and my siblings to volunteer with Special Olympics starting at a young age and over the years I have come to love the organization and volunteering. While we all aspire to join boards of non-profits that are particularly meaningful to us, Special Olympics is my number one!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who is consistently a genuine, loyal and thoughtful friend.

Hobbies? My favorite hobby is cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Last year, my wife and I even shared this interest with Kellogg friends by bringing 10 of our KWESTies to Lambeau Field for a game. (Yes, it was very cold. No, we did not win…)

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

“I work closely with Tristan in his role as co-president for the Private Equity Club to support Kellogg students interested in Private Equity. Tristan’s mission from day one as a club leader has been to take an active role in advancing PE at Kellogg. Even while recruiting himself, he was thinking about and creating ways to support his classmates in learning about the industry, what opportunities exist and how they can educate and position themselves for these opportunities in the future. He freely shares his knowledge and previous experiences to inform others. This includes partnering with our admissions team to think about how to communicate and inform prospective students about Kellogg and having one on one conversations with admitted students to answer their questions and tell them about what they can expect as a Kellogg student. As an administrator, it is a pleasure working with a student like Tristan. He is collaborative, willing to share his opinions and ideas and an enthusiastic and engaged partner. I believe he will leave Kellogg better than he found it and will continue to leave an imprint on whatever he does in the future.”

Mary Simon
Director, Career Advising & Education

Are you a friend of Tristan? Leave a comment to congratulate him.