Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Danielle VeZolles

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Dependable people-person. Francophile. Avid yogi. Sheath dress aficionado. Driven to give back to my community.”

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was very entrepreneurial as a child. When I was 11, I created my own consumer packaged goods company with a focus on low-cost meals and even produced some of the food. My signature product was called “Irish Beef Chunkers,” which was a slice of bologna glazed with honey and sprinkled with chives. I packaged several items in the refrigerator and it was all fun and games until my father asked me to eat them or halt production! I also opened my own discount store called “Danielle’s Dollar Door.” It was a pop-up shop located in front of my bedroom door where I sold items like greeting cards, beanie babies and jewelry for one dollar to my two sisters and brothers.

Undergraduate School and Major: Xavier University (OH) – Major in Public Relations and Minor in French

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Stanley Black & Decker – Associate Manager, Corporate Communications & Culture

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In my first role out of college, I was the general manager of a boutique hotel. On the first night of my first vacation in over a year, a fire ravaged the hotel during our busy season. Fortunately, no one was injured, but there was significant damage. The hotel closed and had no revenue for three months. My day-to-day management duties were cast aside for the daily project management of the building restoration. Throughout the closure, my leadership skills were put to the test as I navigated unfamiliar territory. I met with several restoration companies, meticulously analyzed their 150-page proposals, negotiated prices, and selected a company to do the restoration work in three months. Under my leadership, the repairs were successfully completed under budget two weeks ahead of schedule – and we opened just in time to accommodate a group who had booked the entire hotel for a weekend. Thrust into an ambiguous situation, I grew considerably, navigating the complexities of people management, customer service and leading through crisis.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Down-to-earth. My fellow classmates are some of the smartest, yet most humble people I’ve ever met. They’re very easy to connect with and immediately feel like old friends.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full- time MBA and why was it so important to you? A very appealing and unique aspect of the Kelley MBA program is the Academies. Academies serve to connect classroom knowledge with experiential learning to prepare students for their summer internships, and ultimately, their full-time career. As a career-switcher, participating in Academies is important because I want the opportunity to gain practical knowledge that will support me when it comes time to perform in a role. Through the Consumer Marketing Academy, I will participate in group projects and develop marketing recommendations, network with top CPG companies, and learn consumer marketing skills and industry best practices.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m really looking forward to participating in the Global Business and Social Enterprise (GLOBASE) program. GLOBASE is a global consulting program where students work in teams to solve a business challenge for a small-to-medium sized business or nonprofit based in an emerging market. The end goal is to create a positive social impact and to equip the client with the tools to grow their business.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “How would others describe you?” was a question I found challenging. It’s a question that requires you to assess and evaluate your own character traits and speak about yourself in a way that feels a bit like bragging. I reflected on the positive remarks, compliments, and observations of my family, friends, and colleagues over the years to guide my response and elaborated on my attributes with examples.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve known for a while that an MBA was in my future, but I wanted to get enough work experience to learn what I wanted in my career long-term before making the investment to attend business school. As a career switcher looking to pivot into brand management, I knew that an MBA would change the trajectory of my career while equipping me with the financial acumen, leadership skills, and confidence to succeed.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UNC Kenan-Flagler & Georgetown McDonough

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Cultural fit was a priority for me when determining which schools I would apply to. I thrive in collaborative and supportive environments and was looking for a program with smaller class size. I visited each school at least twice to experience the culture first-hand and connected with as many students as possible in person and over the phone. When you have conversations with multiple students, you begin to hear the same stories and get a feel for the types of classmates you might have. I also spent a lot of time on the schools’ websites, Poets & Quants, and attending school admissions webinars.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I can’t say that I’ve had one defining moment in particular. However, I grew up in a family with parents who encouraged my siblings and me to be very independent and instilled a love of travel in us. One of the earliest international trips I remember was going to Quebec with my family when I was nine. I had just started taking French back home and my brother and I attended a French day camp at our hotel. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of my French studies and love of France and French culture. A few years later when I was 13, I went to France for the first time and was in awe of the language, the beautiful architecture, and of course, the crepes. That year, I formally started studying French in middle school as my foreign language of choice. Eight years, two high school summer French camps, two college study abroad trips to France,

and 13 French classes later, I completed my minor in French. Having a fond appreciation and understanding of another culture has broadened my worldview and has helped me connect with the heritage of my ancestors. A goal of mine is to work in France full-time to continue to improve my speaking skills.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In 10 years, I see myself in a challenging yet fulfilling career, working abroad as a leader at a top CPG company and delivering innovative products to consumers.

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