Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

Eda Levent

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

“Compassionate heart and curious mind. Persistent. Passionate connector. Believe life is better when shared.”

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey

Fun Fact About Yourself: I don’t know how to ride a bike. Yes, seriously. Hoping to find friends who have the will and the patience to teach me at Kellogg!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Virginia, Art History

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Carraway, Co-founder

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  I led the growth strategy and fundraised for the startup I co-founded. With the funding, I brought our company to profitability and sold it to a competitor. The key to our success was being resilient in facing uncertainties and challenges while seeking advice from a diverse group of advisors.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The first quality that comes to my mind is generosity. Even before school started, Kellogg students have been incredibly generous with their time and energy and reached out with a genuine desire to help in any way they can. They have already enhanced my Kellogg experience by sharing their knowledge, connections, time and resources. Through my interactions with current students and alumni, I realized that the Kellogg community is replete with giving, open-minded, compassionate people. I am already very proud and thankful to be part of this generous community.

I was also very impressed to learn about my classmates’ accomplishments while the Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Kate Smith, gave her famous “One of You” speech where she highlights the diversity and achievements of the incoming class. From managing United’s US-wide operations to leading Uber’s expansion into emerging markets to helping diagnose and treat preeclampsia in Africa, my future classmates are extremely accomplished yet humble.

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? One of Kellogg’s biggest appeals to me was the collaborative culture and the emphasis on teamwork. Business school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be surrounded by smart, ambitious and passionate people from all sorts of backgrounds and learn from each other’s experiences. The collaborative environment Kellogg fosters makes learning from each other a highlight of the MBA experience. I believe being able to effectively work in teams is a major factor for success. The emphasis on teamwork at Kellogg will help me develop my leadership and communication skills.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? KTech and Women in Business! Both organizations have already been incredibly helpful in providing support and a sense of community. I would also love to partake in DAK (Day at Kellogg, Kellogg’s admitted students weekend). Kellogg is a student-run campus. As such, students organize DAK. It was very impressive to see how hundreds of students came together to pull together such a significant event. Other fun clubs I want to partake in are The Cork & Screw Club and Eatz.

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.”  I believe it’s respect and open-mindedness. From sections to running clubs, collaboration is the foundation upon which personal and professional development is built in the Kellogg community. I spent my entire career in the startup world, and I feel at home collaborating on scrappy, non-hierarchical teams that emphasize respecting one another’s experience and being open to learning from each other. My career has equipped me with a wide set of hard and soft skills that allow me to drive progress toward team goals. Accordingly, I’ll make sure any team that I am part of makes the most of our collectively diverse body of experiences and perspectives.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “What matters most in your life?” As straightforward as this question sounds, it is not easy to answer without serious introspection.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While I got great hands-on experience wearing many hats in early-stage startups, I am now at a point in my career where I want to ground this experience in a structured business education. In addition, I am looking to expand my vision by interacting with classmates who have vastly different experiences to mine. I believe that the next two years at Kellogg will give me the knowledge, support, and confidence to accelerate my professional dreams.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? CBS, Sloan, Wharton, Haas, Stern

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized cultural fit, followed by how the curriculum fit my career goals, and the strength of the alumni network. I want to build life-long connections and the Kellogg alumni network is one of the strongest, tightest-knit communities I’ve ever seen.

Beyond doing a lot of research on school’s websites and utilizing sites such as Poets&Quants and Clear Admit, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of talking to current students and alumni. I reached out to students with similar backgrounds or goals to learn about their experiences at various schools. Even if you don’t know any current students, reach out via Linkedin. They’ve been in your shoes not too long ago and would be mostly willing to help. There are also admissions ambassadors at almost every school.  I asked the admissions team to put me in touch with students.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?  Art has been a source of inspiration and personal growth throughout my life. Through studying art history in college, I learned that it invites fresh dialogue between perspectives and cultures that transcend base stereotypes and biases. Naturally, post-college, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in the art world. After an internship at Christie’s, I joined a VC-backed art marketplace as one of the very early employees. As I learned about marketplace dynamics, instead of focusing on the product (art works), I became fascinated by finding scalable channels to grow a business. Working at this company was a pivotal experience that evolved my career vision and I decided to pivot my focus to business and technology.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? My ambition is to be in a position where I can make an impact at scale on society. Through various experiences, I learned that the best way to create such an impact is through leveraging technology. In ten years, I want to be in a leadership position at a technology company or be running my own business with this purpose.

Moreover, I want to champion diversity in the technology sector. Brilliant, innovative females cannot enjoy an even playing field until more women leaders emerge. I intend to become one of them.

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