Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

Tracey Fetherson

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“If you don’t learn from every challenge, you’ve missed an opportunity to grow.”

Hometown: Stafford, Virginia

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I competed in my first body-building competition in August 2018.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia, Sociology and African-American Studies (Double major)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  Education Pioneers Summer Fellow with Memphis Delta Preparatory Charter School, Operations Coordinator

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment comes in the form of the intimate notes of gratitude that I’ve received from several Marines I’ve led. I never took my role for granted, but I always underestimated my influence on them during my tenure as their leader. I was humbled and grateful for each Marine who thanked me and consider their willingness to share their gratitude an accomplishment as a Commander.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Supportive: Every (K)lassmate I’ve met has taken an active interest in helping me reach my professional goals or has loaned a hand during the relocation or recruiting process. Alumni and current students immediately welcomed me to the Kellogg family, forging genuine connections throughout the spring and Summer. I look forward to building that same level of community with my fellow incoming Klassmates.

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? There was no selling pitch—I could see how Kellogg was going to develop me as a professional in very explicit ways. Of all the schools I visited, Kellogg was the only school I walked away from with tangible, professional skills that I could immediately apply to my job the following week. The genuine and impactful way that each presenter at preview day invested in MBA applicants left me wanting more as a future student.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m looking forward to engaging with my fellow students through the Kellogg Veteran’s Association.

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.” Work ethic is the most important skill and can manifest itself through the different skillsets each team member holds. One member may be skilled in data gathering, while another may be skilled in presenting findings. As long as each team member contributes the work and effort to the team and understanding each other’s strengths, success becomes much more attainable.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Describe a time when you had to influence someone to follow your lead.” This question forced me to recall moments when my position of authority as a Marine Officer wasn’t sufficient and my competence or will was needed. I couldn’t recall a time in my career where my position of authority didn’t grant automatic compliance and it has since inspired me to spend the past summer developing my leadership style beyond the uniform. I look forward to further developing and learning from my classmates and professors at Kellogg.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Throughout my military career, I had gained valuable, intangible skills in leadership and decision-making, but had little expertise in any given area. I wanted more tangible skills that could help make me a more dynamic and versatile leader.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Darden, HBS, Sloan, Kenan-Flagler, Ross

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Factors: Veteran and African-American student outreach and support of those affinity groups from staff and faculty, course work on social impact and corporate social responsibility, salary and industry variety of graduating class. I researched graduation and alumni data from each school to determine which school would offer me the most optionality in career choices (industry, income and alumni network).

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment is the day I re-entered military training after a 10-month recovery from a car accident. I fractured my pelvis and was told that my recovery would take a year and to consider medically retiring. I learned self-determination and willpower during my recovery, which consequently taught me that I could do or be whomever I desired if I was willing to be comfortable with the uncomfortable or unknown.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Hopefully, thriving as a leader on a dynamic team full of people who are smarter than me and willing to put in the work to positively impact our community through our work.