2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Micheala Sosby, University of Missouri (Trulaske)

Micheala Sosby

University of Missouri, Trulaske College of Business

“Energetic Midwestern spirit, equal parts creativity and process.”

Hometown: Portage, Indiana

Fun fact about yourself: I run obstacle races, which are like half marathons but with mud everywhere and a jungle gym of sorts every half mile or so. My friends and I have done four so far, and each time we go into it with really positive attitudes but probably not enough training.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I studied journalism at the University of Missouri, and I concentrated my undergraduate experience on audience and community-focused approaches to journalism.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before enrolling in business school, I worked at the USA TODAY NETWORK as audience development and channel innovation intern. This experience was my first comprehensive exposure to media business models, and it led to my interest in organizational structure and innovation management.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? During my internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, I helped design a strategy for the center to experiment with audio storytelling.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I’ll be joining the Office of Communications at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I’ll have the opportunity to help this amazing organization serve unique audience needs, develop innovation strategies, and financially support its science communication goals. It’s a dream job and I can’t wait to get started.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: While working on my MBA, I devoted much of my time to helping other students challenge themselves and achieve their goals.

  • First place team: Trends in Real Estate and Capital Markets Forum case competition
  • Digital Communications Director for the Crosby MBA Association
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant: Entrepreneurship and Media for the Future
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant: Honors News Writing
  • Graduate Assistant: Trulaske College of Business Communications
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant: Consumer Marketing

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m really proud of one of the consulting projects I worked on with two of my classmates. The University of Missouri Extension was our client, and it’s an organization tasked with helping local communities make informed decisions about economic opportunity, education access, and health and well-being. In some rural areas, commercial wind energy development becomes a controversial issue because it can dramatically alter the community’s physical infrastructure and economic culture.

To help prevent that kind of contention and promote economic growth in the Midwest, my team and I created a framework that communities can use to assess their suitability for wind energy development. We interviewed several landowners, government officials, and local business leaders – using a successful wind development community as a case study for how others can approach similar economic opportunities. I’m proud of how our thorough research and in-depth interviews enabled us to create a critical resource that is now free and available for any community to use.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The professional achievement I’m most proud of is helping start an audio storytelling program at NASA Goddard. NASA missions are always sharing stunning space imagery with the world, so NASA’s science communication is naturally visual. Having worked in public radio prior, my teammates and I saw an opportunity for NASA to leverage sound to inspire and inform. We also knew that creating rich audio experiences could make NASA storytelling, as a whole, more accessible – people with visual impairments may be able to more fully connect with NASA through our sounds than through our imagery.

After two years of focus and hard work, we created short-form audio stories like “Sounds of the Sun” and produced a podcast for the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. NASA Explorers: Apollo told stories about the Moon and NASA’s lunar explorers. As a part of the podcast’s “Share Your Apollo Story with NASA” campaign, we collected over 400 stories from people all over the world who remembered the Moon landings or were inspired by them. I’m proud of the way we’ve built this audio storytelling program by championing collaboration, audience engagement, and experimentation.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Randy Smith is the Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair for Business Journalism at Mizzou and my favorite MBA professor. As a professor, mentor, and collaborator, Randy is an unmatched source of wisdom and encouragement. Randy expertly leverages his own professional network to create value for both his students and the media industry. In his “Entrepreneurship and Media of the Future” course, Randy’s students work on consulting projects for media organizations like The Associated Press, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many technology startups. Many alumni of the class have gone on to lead strategy for major media organizations and then become the clients for future generations of students. I took the class during my first semester and saw my journalism and business skills blending and complementing each other on a real-world project for the first time. It was one of the most energizing educational experiences I’ve ever had, and the skills I first learned in Entrepreneurship and Media of the Future serve me well every single day in my current role at NASA.

When I became Randy’s teaching assistant, I could more closely observe his leadership and teaching styles, and it quickly became clear to me that Randy fosters a culture of innovation and mentorship wherever he goes. He has been a sounding board for some of my most venturous ideas and a continual source of advice throughout my academic and professional careers. I credit Randy with helping me embrace big picture thinking and grow more comfortable with my entrepreneurial side.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Mizzou Homecoming is a massive and amazing celebration of school pride that’s been a rich part of student life for more than 100 years. Our MBA association selects a local charity to make the focal point of its philanthropy efforts each year. During homecoming season, we host a fundraiser for that charity. Students, alumni, and their families come together to support a wine tasting fundraiser and silent auction. Throughout the year, students sign up to do volunteer work at the charity together. This is my favorite tradition because it sends the message that our MBA program is determined to cultivate business leaders who give and are connected to their communities.

Why did you choose this business school? The University of Missouri is well-known for its hands-on approach to learning. As an undergraduate student at Mizzou, I learned journalism by working as a reporter in several professional newsrooms – the “Missouri Method.” I knew that through Mizzou’s MBA program, I would learn business and entrepreneurship by doing it. There’s also something to be said for a school that provides exceptional opportunities affordably. The Crosby MBA program champions several options, such as assistantships and scholarships, that make a solid business education financially accessible for more students.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? My advice to a Crosby MBA applicant is to know your purpose and your mission. Go into the application process understanding and embracing what energizes you in life, because a fulfilling career won’t just be about the company you want to work for or the job you want to have. Talk openly about that energy in your interview. Consistently taking the time to learn about yourself and what you value will also serve you well throughout the MBA program. The most successful Crosby MBA students have energy and use their MBA to leverage it.

What is the biggest myth about your school? It’s often implied that the middle of the country isn’t a place to look for entrepreneurship, especially in tech. But Missouri, in particular, thrives on a deeply-rooted culture of innovation and small business, and my university plays no small role in cultivating that venture orientation. In Missouri, entrepreneurial thinking is contagious and startup activity sprawls the entire state. According to the 2019 “Show Me Jobs” report, almost 80 percent of all new jobs and about seven percent of the state’s total employment each year comes from first-time employers.

Columbia, the city home to the University of Missouri’s main campus, is an incredibly active entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Investing in Startup Ventures” was one of my favorite MBA courses because it gave me first-hand experience with some of the community’s high-growth startup companies; through the Missouri Innovation Center’s Accelerator Fund, I conducted due diligence and made investment recommendations on a handful of mid-Missouri technology startups. Mizzou and the City of Columbia are an example of how powerful it can be when local communities, no matter where they are on the map, invest in, and take pride in entrepreneurship.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? When you first start an MBA program, it’s natural to look for role models who exemplify what you want an improved, more experienced version of yourself to be like. For me, that was Callie Gunderson. Callie was the president of our MBA association and someone who took great care to foster a strong community within our program.

She accomplished that by holding us all to high standards and freely sharing her unique talents. For example, Callie helped coach our case competition teams, re-energized our program’s philanthropy efforts, and frequently met one-on-one with students to check in on them or give advice. She advocated for student entrepreneurs and served as an invaluable mentor when we were in a venture capital course together. None of these undertakings were required of Callie, but she proactively made them her responsibility because she knew their importance. I admire Callie’s fearless approach to innovation and community-focused leadership. Her example helped me take on bigger, more fulfilling challenges and form stronger collaborations with my classmates.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad, Tim Sosby, has always encouraged me to see the world through an entrepreneurial lens; he was the first to teach me how to identify growth opportunities, and that change often represents progress. His values and dedication to public service have long resonated with me and inspired me in my own career. As the fire chief in my hometown, my dad designed and implemented dozens of programs to keep firefighters healthy and safe. After work and on the weekends, he’s a small business owner building up his CPR and safety training company. My dad is an unwavering example of hustle and focus, always purpose-driven, and optimizing results for the community he serves.

My dad’s encouragement early on helped me realize business school was the obvious next step. He didn’t have the opportunity to attend college when he was my age, so he’s always been a major proponent of me and my brothers’ education. I think my dad was really excited to see me advance my career with an MBA.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to serve on the board of a company or charity whose mission aligns with one or more of my passions: small business development, journalism, or civic engagement. I also plan to pursue opportunities to work with startups again in a formal capacity, perhaps through small business mentorship or venture capital.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope I’m remembered as a good listener, an analytical thinker, and a thoughtful collaborator.

Hobbies? Reading has always been a favorite hobby of mine, and my friends and I recently started a book club. I also really enjoy rock climbing and bouldering because they provide both mental and physical challenges. Everything about the sport, even its jargon, is satisfying to me – the act of climbing is often referred to as “solving a problem” or working on a “project.”

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

“I’m delighted to recommend Micheala Sosby for this prestigious recognition. I have known Micheala over the years in many roles – as a student, a graduate teaching assistant and as a teacher. She is a rare combination of skills, talent, and knowledge.

Micheala’s educational background in journalism and business helps her to see both the big picture and the financial details. She is not only excellent at assessing the current situation of a company or organization, but she also sees future opportunities.

I saw these attributes in Entrepreneurship and the Media, a class that combines master’s students in journalism and business to work on complex problems with well-known companies like the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press. In the atmosphere of this consulting class, Micheala honed what I believe are key skills – critical thinking, collaboration, work ethic, grit, communication, and creativity.

But what I remember most, from our time together, is how Micheala interacted with students and others as a teaching assistant. Her detailed feedback to students was an important part of their success, and many from our class in Fall 2018 are now excelling in prestigious professional opportunities. Most importantly, Micheala is constructive and skilled in her interactions. She teaches and empowers, a rare and intangible talent.

Micheala’s career is rising in her off-campus work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where her strengths are being recognized. One important reason is Micheala took advantage of every opportunity at the Missouri School of Journalism and the Trulaske College of Business. We are very fortunate to have had her as a student.”

Randy Smith
Professor and Donald W. Reynolds Endowed Chair of Business Journalism


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