Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Jeff Snell

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Comfortable being a little bit uncomfortable.”

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Huge fan of podcasts and audiobooks.

Undergraduate School and Major: Virginia Tech, B.A. English

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  United States Marine Corps, UH-1Y “Venom” Helicopter Pilot

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Serving as a military helicopter flight instructor has been my biggest accomplishment in my career up to this point. Teaching flight students from the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and allied nations the hard skills of how to fly a military helicopter in dynamic scenarios has been extremely rewarding. Additionally, the combined opportunity to mentor and lead the flight students in a manner that enabled their strong character development provided an additional level of gratification as I was able to provide another skillset that would assist the students beyond their careers as pilots.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Every student I have interacted with carries a conviction for success that is unparalleled in any other environment I have experienced. It’s hard to define, but every conversation has an energy that seems to inspire growth, even if it is just an informal discussion. Student interactions effortlessly flow from covering detailed examples of industry development to discussions about individual hobbies and back. It is the ease in which these conversations occur that proves that my classmates all carry a conviction for success that will continue to bring synergy to the Foster community.

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? I believe in the importance of not only having the right tools accessible to accomplish goals but also the importance of having the right environment to foster success. Seattle provides exactly this combination. The area offers a growing technology industry that provides exceptional opportunities across many different sectors coupled with a high energy culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle. I cannot imagine a better area to study, network, and explore.

Aside from your classmates and location, 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? The finance department attracted me to Foster. As a career switcher aspiring to transition from the military into a career in finance, I recognized that I needed to take advantage of every opportunity to learn a new craft. My research revealed that Foster boasts a cadre of exceptional finance professors and my discussions with current students during the application process only confirmed that the finance professors were not only exceptional but engaging. As I continued to learn about the many students successfully pursuing careers in finance, I had the proof I needed to convince me that Foster could provide the education required to pursue my career switch.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Continuing to immerse myself in finance, I am most looking forward to becoming a member of the Foster Finance Society. The opportunity to engage with seasoned finance students, learn the industry with fellow career switchers, and meet with industry professionals will enable a more holistic finance education outside of the classroom.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? While it may seem like this should be the easiest question to answer, “Why an MBA?” demanded thought much deeper than a simplistic career path outline. I felt like the question was really asking, “What drives your life ambitions?” Determining how to explain why I wanted an MBA required in-depth reflection about what truly provided me with professional satisfaction and what drove me to pursue my goals with vigor.  While it was a refreshing experience to reflect on my experiences thus far and explain my future ambitions, the process did take time and the response was challenging to articulate.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My time as a Marine Corps pilot has been nothing short of exceptional. I have had great opportunities to make a large-scale impact, to work and grow among inspiring people, and have my career ultimately come full circle as I have been able to instruct the next generation of pilots. However, I determined I wanted to broaden my skill set beyond the military. I wanted to broaden my horizons into the financial sector, a sector where I feel I can continue to have opportunities to provide a large-scale positive influence as I learn to analyze different industries and predict future development.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

USC Marshall

UT McCombs

UCLA Anderson

Berkeley Haas

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I determined my fit at various schools by analyzing the academic opportunities available, employment prospects upon graduation, and a team-oriented culture all balanced with the location. My business school search prioritized finance departments as I would need a strong academic curriculum to support my career switch. Following the opportunity for academic development, I wanted to ensure that other students in the program had successfully executed a career switch into finance careers given their MBA education. As I confirmed these requirements through each school’s employment statistics and conversations with current students, I was able to gauge each school’s team-oriented culture as I inquired about student-led organizations. Lastly, having grown up in California, my search was biased toward the west as I searched for a region that would enable an active outdoor lifestyle.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Midway through my career in the military, I served as an aviation subject matter expert for a unit of over 800 infantry Marines who specialized in ground-oriented combat operations. It was my job to coordinate the use of military aircraft in support of ground operations in real-time. While not necessarily one defining moment, this year-long experience serving as a subject matter expert as I networked throughout military aviation in order to coordinate support. I was also being relied on for planning and execution, all while fitting in with a different work culture outside of my aviation-centric comfort zone. All of this gave me the confidence to trust my abilities and instincts when proposing and conducting business endeavors.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would like to be working in an exceptional work environment that values leadership. Additionally, I would like to be in a position where I feel I am having a positive impact on the world by promoting the development of important industries.

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