Meet UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class of 2021

Established in 1919 as the Department of Commerce of UNC Chapel Hill’s College of Arts, the School was renamed the Kenan-Flagler Business School in 1991 to honor two prominent American business families and benefactors of the School: philanthropist Mary Lily Kenan Flagler and her husband, Henry Morrison Flagler. The business school will celebrate is 100 year anniversary in 2019. Photography by Steve Exum of

3) You are a 30-minute drive from Research Triangle Park? Talk to us about your MBA program’s partnerships with companies there. How have they benefited your MBA students?

“The Research Triangle Park, in particular, and the wider Triangle (Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh) make for a vital business environment of major, global corporations as well as startups, small and mid-sized firms, and nonprofits. UNC and other major research universities in the area also fuel the innovation You’ll find biotech and life sciences, cleantech, and technology there.

We have deep, multi-faceted relationships with these firms – from their hiring of interns and graduates – to tapping their expertise as career mentors, speakers in classes and at conferences, participating in case competitions, providing STAR projects, and participating in career club activities.

In addition, our full-time MBA students benefit from the strong Triangle alumni community that includes graduates of our Evening and Weekend Executive MBA Programs, in particular, who are leaders in these fields and often are based in the Triangle.

All of this makes for a powerful network of businesses, large and small, that track with our special strengths in healthcare, real estate development, entrepreneurship, and sustainable enterprise.

4) Talk to us about your STAR program? What makes this leadership development so different and helpful to MBA students?

“STAR stands for “Students Teams Achieving Results.” The program is one of the richest ways in which our students apply what they learn in class while they’re in the MBA program – both in the broad knowledge they call on when working on projects, but also using skills they will rely on throughout their careers.

Learning about and then using a proven consulting framework and methodology, student teams work on real business projects around the world for companies and nonprofits. They develop best practices in consulting and gather and analyze market insights, industry trends and data. In the process, they learn when to lead and when to follow, what makes an effective team, and how to analyze and present complex information to provide solutions to a business challenge.

STAR presentation to Dominos CEO

The engagement is deep. Each team of five to six students has a faculty advisor and gets support from subject-matter experts as they work with the client organizations. At the end of the semester, STAR teams present data-based recommendations that are actionable to their organizations. We believe the students’ analysis and recommendations are on a par with what a top consulting firm would provide.

This year we had several healthcare projects and teams were interdisciplinary from across the University, including medical students, public health students and business school students. We’ve also worked with Disney, Domino’s, NASCAR, Procter & Gamble, nonprofits and a women’s hospital in Zambia.

We’ve been offering STAR since 2006, and it’s grown into a comprehensive program we offer to students in all of our MBA programs (full-time, evening, weekend, online). In addition to the long track record of success and the comprehensive nature of STAR, it’s also is unique because MBA and undergraduate students work together on teams. Students benefit from diverse perspectives and grow while collaborating on a team.”


When Ran Levinsky was picking a business school, STAR was a huge draw because it offered a proven platform for growing his leadership and soft skills. In that regard, he won’t be disappointed says Reinaldo Caravellas, a 2019 P&Q Best & Brightest MBA.

UNC Kenan-Flagler is known for its leadership excellence and I can confirm it is true. What I found out is that our culture and environment transform us into natural leaders by hands-on experience and academic curricular with courses like Managing the Professional Service Firm. Students have so many opportunities to step up and engage in different activities that it is almost impossible to graduate without being a leader in a project, club or event.”

The Leonard W. Wood Center for Real Estate was also an attractive proposition for MBAs. So popular, in fact, that 11% of Kenan-Flagler graduates entered the field in 2018. One secret? The program supplements rigorous academic instruction with wide-ranging resources and holistic experiences where students delve into the nitty-gritty of development.

Kenan-Flagler Business Healthcare Conference

“[The program] is dedicated to providing students a “Real World Real Estate” education by engaging students outside the classroom through career treks, case competitions, industry conferences, and more, says Caroline Gill. “The program has a very connected alumni base, which I believe is an invaluable resource as I discern my career within the industry.”


Perhaps the most ‘real world’ part of the program is the student-led Real Estate Fund, which has raised over $12 million dollars over the past decade. “The Fund is a unique hands-on business school experience in which student managers get involved in the operation of an active real estate private equity fund,” adds Kelly Whelan. “Given my experience in real estate development, the opportunity to gain exposure to and experience in the investments side of the industry while still in business school is particularly valuable.”

For Tom Hickey, the move to Chapel Hill was spurred by the program’s healthcare concentration, which includes over a dozen courses, along with slating the school’s largest annual conference. “UNC’s Center for the Business of Health provides an avenue for MBA candidates interested in healthcare to interact with real-world stakeholders (physicians, pharmacists, etc.) while still in school. This program, paired with the strong healthcare curriculum, further cemented my conviction that UNC Kenan-Flagler was the right school for me.”

What’s next for the Class of 2021? In true firefly spirit, Ying Men plans to launch a consulting or investment firm catering to pharmaceutical firms. In contrast, Aaron Cappelli expects to target the food industry, connecting under-studied crops, technology, and environmental impact to bring new products to market. At the same time, Rhian Carreker-Ford envisions himself tackling humanitarian aid and disaster response as a consultant…which will hopefully help him attain his ultimate goal.

“In ten years, I hope to have a Wikipedia page that has been written by someone else,” he jokes.

What led these professionals to enter business schools? Which programs did they also consider? What strategies did they use to choose their MBA program? What was the major event that defined them? Find the answers to these questions and many more in the in-depth profiles of these incoming MBA candidates.



MBA Student Hometown Alma Mater Employer
Pedro Alhanat Dias de Souza São Paulo, Brazil Fundação Getulio Vargas Acqua Investimentos
Aaron Cappelli Glenwood Springs, CO Dartmouth College Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative
Rhian Carreker-Ford Detroit, MI Fisk University U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services
Robert Ejupi Pristina, Kosovo Rochester Institute of Technology Sport In
Anuradha Gadre Mumbai, India Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute Garmin India
Caroline Gill Charlotte, NC Washington and Lee University J.P. Morgan
Tom Hickey Virginia Beach, VA University of Notre Dame Epic Systems
Breanna Johnson Cary, NC Harvard College University of California San Francisco Breast Care Center
Rebecca Jordan Burlington, NC University of North Carolina Deloitte Consulting
Ran Levinsky Tel Aviv, Israel The College of Management Academic Studies Teva Pharmaceutical
Ying Men Hulin, China Peking University Beijing Strategy & Action Management Consulting
Kelly Whelan Pittsburgh, PA Harvard University EYA

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