Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Caitlin Braun

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management

“Intellectually curious engineer. Driven endurance athlete. Fueled by challenge. Passionate about improving the future.”

Hometown: Chagrin Falls, Ohio

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an Ironman 140.6 and Ironman 70.3 Worlds Competitor. This year, I have put 5x more miles on my bike than on my car.

Undergraduate School and Major: Washington University in St. Louis, BS, Mechanical Engineering Kalamazoo College, BA in Physics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Design Engineer, Stryker Medical, Emergency Care Division

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I served as technical lead of a team that successfully launched Stryker’s second-generation Power-LOAD, a powered ambulance cot loading and fastening system that provides a safe and effective means of transport for both patients and caregivers in emergency situations.

When you think of MIT, what are the first things that come to mind? How has your experience with the Sloan program reinforced or upended these early impressions? Mens et manus, MIT’s motto which translates to “Mind and hand,” is top of mind when I think of MIT.  MIT is the leader in experiential learning; students learn by doing!  At MIT, we learn new skills through hands-on class projects, Action Learning Labs, Sloan Innovation Period, and the Independent activities period. Through these experiences, we deepen our understanding and begin applying our knowledge to impact the world around us.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Passionate. The MBA classmates I have met so far are all extremely passionate.  My classmates exhibit a passion to learn and are always asking the question “Why?”.  They also share a passion to help others excel and take time to check in with each other. Finally, they show a passion for success, going above and beyond what is expected and pushing the limits on what we had thought could be achieved.

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? At MIT, I had the opportunity to join the Leaders in Global Operations (LGO) program, a two-year MBA and Masters in Engineering program. This program allows me to build a foundation in business and further develop technical acumen. As our world becomes increasingly dependent on technology, our most impactful leaders will be those who have both the technical/analytical skills to develop innovative products or processes and the business/leadership to skills to deliver those products or processes to our world.   

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am looking forward to joining the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and competing with MIT’s cycling team.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? How would your peers describe you?

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In a 1997 Letter to Shareholders, Jeff Bezos introduced the powerful concept of Day 1. He described Day 1 as the early stages of a company, where success is achieved through unrelenting passion, hard work, agility, and dedication. Day 1 has become a powerful framework that propels growth by keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive. Just as it is always Day 1 at Amazon, it is always Day 1 for me. I am passionate about learning, growing, and never becoming complacent. Returning to school to pursue an MBA and Masters in Mechanical Engineering is what keeps me in Day 1. I will continue to challenge myself and develop the relationships and skills to keep improving.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Chicago Booth

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When looking at schools, I prioritized cultural and academic fit. I spent time on campus, sitting in on classes and engaging with current students and alumni.  Visiting each school and attending class allowed me to envision myself as a student there.  Meeting with students and alumni helped me understand the culture and determine fit. At MIT, I was energized when I was on campus, attending classes, and meeting with current students and alumni.   MIT felt like the place where I could most thrive.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I see life as a journey, filled with a multitude of moments that shape our trajectory. The most powerful moments in my life came from the challenges I have faced.  In 2016 I was hit by a car while training for a major race. The experience was painful, both mentally and physically, but it did help me grow. I became acutely aware of the impact of my work as a design engineer for emergency medical equipment. I also reflected on and realized the importance of many things I had taken for granted such as my health and every moment to enjoy it. This, in combination with other moments throughout my journey, instilled a deeper commitment to creating products that improve lives along with a renewed sense of importance in health and wellness, exercise and fitness, and being present in each moment.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Ten years from now, I envision myself leading the design and development of technology-intensive products that improve the lives of others and make our future brighter.

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