Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

Jeanette Stock

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: Five years ago, I made a one-year commitment to do one thing each month that scared me. I decided to start by tackling my biggest fear – public speaking – by performing at a live storytelling event (think “The Moth”). I ended up loving it, and now I sign up a storytelling event once a year.

Undergraduate School and Major: Queens University (Kingston, Canada), English Language and Literature

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Platform Director at Highline Beta (pre-seed venture capital and startup co-creation firm based in Toronto, Canada).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: For the past two years at Highline Beta I’ve led data collection and the production of our Women in Venture report, which looks at 300 venture capital firms and corporate venture arms to try to paint a clearer picture of the state of gender in venture capital.

While the numbers are staggering – we estimate that only 13.5% of partners at venture capital firms are women – and that only 10% of LP dollars raised on 2018 went to funds with any women managing partners – I believe that the conversations it started in the Canadian Venture Capital  ecosystem and beyond have the potential to drive real change.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Because the MMM program starts in June, I’ve been lucky enough to have spent the last month in Evanston with 60+ other classmates, as well as with the incoming 1Y students. In that time, I’ve been blown away by how growth-oriented each of my classmates is. I’ve also been floored by how willing my peers have been to share their own goals with others, ask for help when they need it, and go out of their way to help others learn about a new industry or grasp a difficult concept in class. Seeing others around me set ambitious goals has pushed me to better define my own priorities for the next two years at Kellogg.

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? For me, the unique nature of the MMM program (MBA + MS Design Innovation) was the deciding factor when I was choosing my MBA program. The curriculum itself blends core business skills with design innovation in a way I haven’t seen in any other program. In the end, what really sold me away was the tight-knit community that develops among the MMM students because of how small the program is (~60 students in each year). Coming from Canada, developing a strong community of peers here in the US was a priority for me. At an already community-oriented school like Kellogg, the tight-knit nature of the MMM program that every MMM student I met described made me confident that I could find my community here.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Every year, Kellogg students go on a ski trip after winter exams. This year is in Whistler, in Canada! I can’t wait to share some of Canada with my classmates and to debunk (or maybe reinforce) some Canadian stereotypes.

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.” The best teams I have ever worked on have been those where each team member knows what they bring to the table is up-front about their own weaknesses, and acknowledges and respects when their teammates do the same. I’m quickly realizing that the “teams” at Kellogg end up being much more than those assigned for classwork – from industry clubs to KWEST leaders to student leadership positions. I’m looking forward to learning from the diversity of experience and expertise my peers bring to the table, in the classroom and beyond.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The company I worked for before coming to Kellogg doesn’t have an easily digestible business model – we invested in venture-profile companies, ran corporate accelerator programs, and built startups from the ground up. In one interview, I was asked to concisely explain the business and then to evaluate the business strategy our founding partners had taken. What would I do differently? Did I believe in the business model? While I was somewhat taken aback by the question, it ended up being a valuable opportunity to reflect on my role and on our industry as a whole.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My career path to date has admittedly meandered somewhat – I’ve worked at non-profits, at a startup that was acquired during my time there, and at an emerging Canadian venture capital firm. During this time, I’ve never worked at a firm larger than 30 people. While this has been a gift – I’ve been exposed to a variety of industries and functions and I’ve been able to take on meaningful challenges that have helped me grow – it means that opportunities to reflect on my career or to focus on specific skills have been few-and-far-between. An MBA is an opportunity for me to leverage what I’ve learned in that time to develop a more systematic approach to my own personal and professional growth.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Coming from Canada, building a professional network and learning more about business in the US was a priority for me. As a result, I focused on schools with a reputation for a strong culture and community. While online resources (Poets and Quants, etc.) were a good starting place to get a baseline understanding, conversations with current students and recent alumni were most useful for me to get a feel for the culture and community of each school. Admitted student weekends, preview weekends, and my interviews with alumni helped me gauge my fit with each school I considered.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I focused on four programs that I knew had strong student community while also having a reputation for excellence in academics and career outcomes. In the end, the MMM and the Kellogg Community ended up being the perfect fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In 2016 I led the launch of Venture Out, a series of community events that have connected over a thousand LGBTQIA2+ Canadians in technology to career opportunities, role models, and to each other. My co-founders and I started Venture Out in 2016 after connecting over the lack of LGBTQIA2+ role models or community in Canada’s startup community.

It was overwhelming to lead a team of volunteers to raise funds, generate interest, and launch Canada’s first conference for LGBTQIA2+ folks in tech while working full-time at a startup. I joke that for two years I had “a day job and a gay job”. But when I speak to folks who connected with their employers, their mentors, or their community as a result, it feels more than worth it. The ongoing work of the entire Venture Out team reminds me every day of the impact that I – or anyone else – can have when we see a gap and choose to put in the work to close it for ourselves and for others.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I’ll be leveraging the best of my experiences in the non-profit world and the startup ecosystem to support founders who are building high-growth technology companies that don’t just drive returns but leave our world better than they found it.

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