Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

Ben Silton

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“My interest triangle is Analytics, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability.”

Hometown: Boston, MA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love a good parable.

Undergraduate School and Major: Math/Economics joint major at Middlebury College

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Director of Analytics and Data Science at Divert, Inc.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Helping the Divert team drive growth from 7 to 90 employees over five years.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Everyone is simply excited to be at Kellogg, which makes everyone extra friendly, engaging, curious, and positive.

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? Kellogg’s 1Y program is a great option for people who have a good idea of what they want to do after school or long-term or place less value on a summer internship to pivot into a different industry or function. For me, it seemed like a more efficient opportunity to accomplish my goals than a full two-year MBA.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Being the 1Y Class Sustainability Chair!

Kellogg is often described as “team-driven.” In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you intend to bring that in a culture where “students run everything.” No two people have the same strength profiles, so to optimize team effectiveness it helps to (a) be mindful of one’s own and each teammates’ strengths and (b) actively create opportunities for everyone to exercise them. I hope to use my one year at Kellogg exploring leadership by bringing out the best in everyone I work with.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I’m not sure I could point to a single question, but the exercise of constant and honest self-reflection was both challenging and rewarding. As someone who applied to MBA programs in three separate years, I was forced to think extensively about my qualities, deficiencies, and goals. I learned a great deal about myself through writing the various short answer and essay questions as truthfully as possible.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In order to go from managing people to managing functions or companies, I knew I needed to augment my leadership toolbox. Even more so, I needed to learn how many different talented and accomplished people approach and solve many different types of problems.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? GSB, Sloan, HBS, and Haas

How did you determine your fit at various schools? In my opinion, the one and only way to gauge fit is to visit in-person. Top MBA schools attract similar applicants and you can get some insights through websites, emails, and phone calls. When all of the individual students come together at one school, the culture becomes way more than just a sum of its parts. I didn’t include Kellogg in my first two years of applications. After visiting in person last year, I could almost tangibly feel the fit. Part of that feeling came from interacting with current students in an informal setting, but most of it actually came from observing the students interact with each other and the culture they sustained and enjoyed. After that, I applied only to Kellogg. Thankfully they let me in, but I still pinch myself from time to time to make sure it’s really happening.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I can’t spin a great origin story, so I’ll say this: I may choose the path I walk, but each turn is presented by circumstances outside of my control. In other words, chance is every bit as responsible as I am myself for where I am today. The moment I realized that, I began to walk with more curiosity and optimism.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Hopefully founding a company or managing a product within the clean-tech industry.

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