2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Jamari Brooks, Michigan State (Broad)

Jamari Brooks

Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business

“I’m driven with a desire to cross-collaborate in order to achieve organizational success.”

Hometown: Dayton, Ohio

Fun fact about yourself: I taught myself how to play poker and then flew to Las Vegas only to surely lose in less than 5 minutes in a Poker Tournament.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bowling Green State University, Bachelor of Science Degree in Business. Specialization: Finance.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Novo Nordisk Inc. – Pharmaceutical Salesperson

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Johnson & Johnson, West Chester, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? BASF, Leadership Development Program Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

MBAA – Vice President of Community Events – Winner of the Unity Award

Michigan State University Mcdonel Hall – Resident Advisor

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The extracurricular achievement I am most proud of during business school is winning the Unity Award. This award is given to someone who excels at galvanizing peers and creating a positive, fun environment. The winner is chosen by peer voting. Being selected for this award was an awesome moment for me because I’ve always stressed the importance of having a balance during the MBA program. Homework, job searching, and exams can be overwhelming. To me, it’s important to have non-academic outlets to re-charge and foster long-term relationships amongst classmates. For my peers to choose me as someone who enhanced their MBA experience truly was rewarding and I’m proud of that moment.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The professional career achievement I am most proud of is being promoted twice in four years during my time at Novo Nordisk Inc. After graduating with a Finance degree, I never intended on landing a job in pharmaceutical sales. However, I took a chance on a unique opportunity to become a pharmaceutical salesperson. Upon taking the job, I had to relocate to Chicago, Illinois. This was a lot for me: I was young, had a fast-paced job, and moved to a big city where I had no friends or family. With the incredible managers, training phases, and mentors that Novo Nordisk provided, I was able to learn fast and analyze data to guide decisions that exceeded expectations. Promotions can be tough to come by, so for me to receive two promotions in my four working years gave me the confidence I belong in my current industry. Also, I had a solid algorithm to see work success going forward. These promotions early on into my career gave me the confidence to pursue ambitious business results.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose MSU’s business school for two reasons. First: culture. Lots of school’s mention how inclusive their culture is and the support students would get. However, MSU created a genuine feeling of backing and personal investment into my goals. As I was gathering information about MSU, there was never a shortage of current students who were willing to speak with me about anything or MSU alumni in positions I wanted who was willing to speak. I appreciated how MSU’s personal approach fosters an environment of support and comfort. The second reason is the alumni base. 50,000 students are on campus and hundreds of thousands more are Spartan alumni. This creates a feeling that there is no area or subject you can venture in without someone with MSU ties. It is truly a remarkable feeling knowing that graduating from MSU opens so many professional doors to you based on the huge amount of current and past students.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Set SMART goals for yourself and know the available resources MSU has to ensure you will achieve your goals. Business ideas and career projections change, but having early realistic goals of what you want to do and how MSU can support you allows you to truly maximize your time and experiences at MSU (or pivot from a choice with a lot of time to go down another path). Additionally, I would say embrace the community aspect MSU established. It’s easy to get enamored with pushing for high grades and landing an internship or job early. However, MSU does a great job of providing many facets to allow students to establish relationships amongst peers and alumni and enjoy East Lansing. It’s imperative to make time for these moments and get the totality of the Spartan experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about MSU is there is nothing to do outside of going to sporting events in this small college town. Early into the program, students can fall into that narrative because a lot of promotion and excitement goes into sporting events. When I took the time to investigate things to do on campus or in the surrounding community, I never felt voided of excitement away from sporting events.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dave Karnosky is an MBA classmate I most admire. Dave’s discipline and integrity are his most admirable traits. Dave serves our country in the Army, has a wife, and children, yet constantly make time to complete assignments early, initiate discussions, and is always willing to participate and give his insights during class. I only have to take care of myself and I struggle at times to be caught up on all the class readings and assignments, so I cannot imagine Dave’s school-life balance. During the program, Dave noticed he was gaining weight. To resolve this, I saw Dave switch to the daunting Keto Diet. Dave ended losing 10 pounds in a month. Lastly, Dave speaks what he means and means what he says, he never sugarcoats his words and respectfully gets his points across. He is always willing to discuss matters further and is willing to apologize if he accidentally offends anyone.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My grandfather influenced my decision to pursue business in college. He basically sold me on the idea: ‘Business is subjective and there is no exact formula to climb the corporate latter or being influential. Furthermore, everything is a business, you are either buying or selling a product or service in the end. Lastly, gaining knowledge about this industry can only grow your perceptions. Rarely is there an absolute right and business equips you with the knowledge to speak to your ideas about anything. Many life principles you learn apply to business and can promote you.’

These were all statements my grandfather stated to me. I agreed with his thoughts and decided to pursue business.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. International assignment
  2. Make the C-suite

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A person who challenged himself and classmates to grow both personally and professionally.

Hobbies? Poker, cooking, working out

What made Jamari such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“If our MBA program has a student responsible for its heartbeat, it is Jamari. He can always be counted on to sense what his class needs, and create a program, event, or engagement to provide it.  The skills and abilities he possesses are undergirded by a strength of character and a humility that are not common in young leaders.

Jamari is at ease in every situation, with everyone. I first noticed this during a major service learning event his class participated in November 2018. The BuildOn Initiative was an extensive, 36-hour experience working on service projects with 80+ students from Detroit Public Schools over the course of the weekend. Amari assumed a leadership role in every project and could always be counted on to provide words of encouragement and support.

Jamari’s role in his second year of the MBA program has been to create nearly 15 student engagements throughout the year to build morale amongst our 160+ MBA students. Historically, there have been a number of limits to student engagement programming that are developed and conducted by students; namely, that they are small in scale or just in time. Jamari’s events are strategic, well-resourced, and flawlessly executed, the hallmarks of a true professional. Yet, no matter how intense the experience, I have never seen a student more at ease with what he was doing, no matter the difficulty.

Should Jamari seek to return to higher education on a second career, I can think of no student better suited to be a mentor and leader to the next generation.”

Wayne R. Hutchison, Ph.D.
Managing Director, FTMBA


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