“Passionate and collaborative lifelong learner. Bad with maps. Often found quoting Mean Girls.”
Hometown: Greenwich, CT
Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m celebrating turning 30 by holding court as the resident “old person” at a Chainsmokers concert with my partner in a few weeks. I’ll be unironically loving it.
Undergraduate School and Major: Colorado College, BA in Political Science, cum laude
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: General Mills, Sr. Brand Associate
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The accomplishment I’m most proud of wasn’t part of my core job responsibilities at all. I got the opportunity to plan and host LGBT+ employees from around North America at corporate headquarters for a full day of leadership development and networking. We brought in industry experts and company leaders to speak on various personal and professional development topics. The conference was planned during our annual Pride celebration, so folks who chose to stay the weekend got to march with our float in the Twin Cities Pride Parade.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates are collaborative, diverse in thought and background, and generous. Our class has come from all over the world, from both military and civilian careers. We have incredible breadth and depth of experience to share with each other, and I’m excited to be a part of their journeys.
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? The Carlson School’s unique emphasis on experiential learning was the biggest draw for me. I’ll be working on real client problems with local companies through the Enterprise program. I’m passionate about marketing and general management, so I’m looking forward to working with new brands and tackling interesting challenges.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m most looking forward to working with Compass, our school’s LGBT+ student network. Some of my most meaningful experiences at General Mills were as a steering team chair on the company’s LGBT+ employee network. Mills was the first place I was ever comfortable being out as LGBT+ on day one, and I want to help connect others to similar opportunities. I look forward to building community with classmates, the broader Twin Cities LGBT+ professional network, and prospective MBA students!
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “Tell me about a time you failed.” I’m glad I had prepared specifically for that question. My work teammates had all gone through the MBA application process, so they helped me build STAR (situation, task, action, result) stories for all the dreaded “weakness, bad boss, failure” questions that might come up. It gave me the opportunity to show that, like everyone, I’ve made mistakes, but I always find a way to learn from them or practice resilience in the face of difficult circumstances. It just so happened that right before the interview I’d had a really big setback on a project at work, and I had to rally the team and quickly figure out potential ways forward when my plan didn’t work. With a little preparation, I had plenty of material for the STAR story.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My experience at General Mills confirmed that Brand Management is what I want to be doing in my career. I want to build brands where people have meaningful, lifelong connections. There’s only so much one can learn on the job, so I chose to invest in myself with the aim of developing skills that will make me a more effective leader.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Michigan, Ross; Wisconsin School of Business
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I built a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet with every factor that was important to me. Overall, it was about meeting alums and current students. I had the benefit of speaking with a number of colleagues who were alumni from the schools where I had applied. They helped me navigate the culture question and connected me with current students and former classmates. In the end, it came down to gut feel. I knew Carlson was for me the day I visited.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In 2015, after spending a few years working in Boston post-college, I packed up and moved to Minnesota, sight unseen, taking a risk and switching careers. My father had recently passed away, which caused me to take stock and realized I wasn’t happy where I was. After a few years of building slide decks and analytics dashboards, I wanted a job that let me interact with people all day. I worked on the floor at the Mall of America Best Buy location – survived two Black Fridays – and learned public-facing retail sales from the ground up. I had amazing store leadership that challenged me to lead the turnaround of a struggling department. They invested wholeheartedly in my development and found opportunities for me to participate in corporate training or to interact directly with vendors. While store management wasn’t my calling, the experience helped me to figure out that I wanted to try my hand at developing the products and strategies that come to life in stores for customers. Everyone should work in the retail or service industry at some point in their lives – if nothing else, it teaches you how to put out fires and keep things moving forward.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I see myself working toward a senior leadership position in brand management or corporate strategy. I’ll likely be working on mentoring and developing future leaders in my organization and hope to have a positive impact by helping to shape an inclusive and affirming corporate culture. I also hope to be a working parent by then!