2020 MBAs To Watch: Blais Hickey, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Blais Hickey

Georgia Institute of Technology’s Scheller College of Business

Active advocate for healthy lifestyles, responsible business practices, and collaborative problem-solving.”

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Fun fact about yourself: I spent several months living on sailboats while studying marine debris and its impact on marine life and public policy.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Environmental Studies (BA), Global Studies (BA)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked for the Atlanta Track Club as Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships. Atlanta Track Club is the second largest running organization in the country and host of the largest 10K in the world, bringing 60,000 people to Atlanta to run 6.2 miles!

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Nike Global Operations Team in Portland, Oregon. I had the opportunity to work in Demand and Supply Management within the Asia Pacific Latin America geography. My project focused on developing a new demand planning process that would better account for the unique challenges presented by such a diverse and fragmented region.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will return to the Nike Global Operations Team! In my future career at Nike, I hope to support the company’s efforts to become a leader in sustainable operations and products, both within athletics and in fashion overall.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Scheller MBA Net Impact: Directing this club has been one of the best parts of my MBA experience. Over the last year, the Net Impact club has grown over 60%, and we now serve over 85 Full-time, Evening, and Executive MBA students. Scheller’s emphasis on sustainability is growing, and it’s been exciting to lead the club at the forefront of that charge. We are introducing members to professionals, job functions, and industries with emphasis on environmentally and socially responsible practices and embedding ourselves in the growing sustainability scene in Atlanta.
  • Board Fellow, Generation Green: As a member of the Generation Green Board, I’ve joined a group of change-makers in Atlanta with a shared interest in getting people outdoors and protecting Georgia’s natural spaces. We’ve worked to fundraise for the Georgia Conservancy and to promote diversity in the outdoor space.
  • Swim and Run Coach, Atlanta Triathlon Club: When I’m not at school, I’m usually training for a triathlon—currently a Half Ironman! Atlanta Triathlon Club was instrumental in getting me into the sport, and I enjoy the opportunity to support other aspiring athletes. It’s incredibly rewarding to help people set goals, push outside their comfort zone, and achieve the success that they never expected.
  • Community Volunteer, Atlanta Track Club: Even though I stopped working professionally for Atlanta Track Club, I knew I had to remain part of its inspiring community. As a volunteer for the US Olympic Marathon Team Trials, I am coordinating 70 hydration station volunteers to support more than 600 of America’s top marathoners in the race for their Olympic dreams.
  • Student Interviewer, Class of 2022 Admissions
  • Member, Women in Business, Strategy & Innovation Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I have two: One is the impact that my leadership team and I have had through our roles in Net Impact. With over 85 active members, we are the largest club within the MBA program and provide programing for Full-time, Evening, and Executive MBA students, educating them about the role of sustainability in business and introducing them to industry leaders in Atlanta and beyond.

The second was the Patagonia Sustainable Business Case Competition. Our team was named a Top 10 finalist, and we were invited to present our recommendations to Patagonia executives in California. Working on their sustainable packaging solutions provided great insight into the complexities that Patagonia and other sustainability-minded companies face when making small changes to their products – and it was a true testament to the level of detail that Patagonia undertakes when building their best product. It was an amazing opportunity to get greater exposure to a company that I admire and a topic that I am so passionate about.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the beauties of working at a small non-profit is that each individual can have a large impact on the organization. I am most proud of this lasting positive impact on a community that I love. As the Atlanta Track Club grew from 19 staffers to nearly 30, I had the unique opportunity to build multiple roles and functions in the organization. Beginning as the Events Marketing Manager, I developed the first real processes and relationships to promote our road races and events, learning everything in real-time (due to my lack of formal business education). Next, I grew the role of managing strategic partnerships, including with some of the world’s largest brands based in Atlanta. I am unabashedly proud that I have maintained those relationships and can still see the impact that my work had on the Club two years later.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Laurina Zhang, our corporate strategy professor. She used a case-based teaching methodology to help us develop a new way of problem-solving. The material was fascinating, and the cases we discussed were perfect examples of the core principles of corporate strategy. She motivated us to be incredibly prepared and engaged each week, and it was fun to debate with each other in class.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Each year, the incoming Full-time MBA students visit a high ropes course for a day of team-building exercises. The day starts somewhat awkwardly as we work through the challenges and the Georgia summer heat with our new classmates, but the games and tasks break the ice quickly, and the laughter and conversations get progressively louder. The trip culminates with a high ropes course and zip line, which nearly every person in our class chose to do. The tradition stands out to me because of how much confidence you can visibly see each person gain with their new classmates and with their decision to join the cohort. As we step outside our comfort zone, whether it be off the zipline platform or into the classroom on the first day of school, we have 85 new friends that will cheer us through this challenge and through the ups-and-downs of the next two years.

Why did you choose this business school? Scheller has a unique combination of top-tier academics, hands-on experience, small and supportive cohorts, and an incredible financial return. Additionally, I knew Scheller would provide a deeper understanding of data analytics that any future career would require. Third, the school has a growing appreciation for sustainability in business, and the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business offers unprecedented opportunities to engage in the topic. Lastly, everyone was extremely nice. It sounds simple, but every student, staff, and faculty member I met during the application process was smart, kind, supportive, and genuinely interested in my background and goals. 

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? First, demonstrate why you are pursuing an MBA. You do not have to present a five-year plan, but it is helpful to have a compelling reason for how an MBA will help you progress in your career and in life. Second, be curious – in the program and its offerings, in Georgia Tech, in the MBA experience, in some extracurricular activity or in exploring opportunities outside your comfort zone. Lastly, be genuine. Because our cohorts are small, we want a diverse group of people who bring good energy and will support their classmates.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Everyone is an engineer or data scientist. While we do have quite a few engineers, the cohorts have a balance of “poets” and “quants” – an ideal asset for forming well-rounded project teams and for preparing for the “real world.”

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?
I would have leaned into the resources around Tech Square earlier and tried to engage more with the startups and incubators located in the vicinity.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Katherine Huded. Katherine came into Scheller knowing 110% she wanted to work in waste diversion. She is incredibly passionate about recycling and composting, and she turned down many amazing internships because they did not align with her personal career goals. After a grueling networking and interviewing process, she earned an amazing role combining her passion for sustainability, strengths in public policy, experience in marketing, and newly-elevated business knowledge. She did so well that she continued to work full-time when the internship ended. From Katherine, I learned to stick to your guns and be confident enough to pursue what you really want.  

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college?
I almost attended Georgia Tech for a Master’s in City and Regional Planning. However, after reading Climate of Hope by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, I decided my skills and experience would enable me to incite bigger and more lasting change through business. An MBA was crucial to help me make that pivot out of the non-profit running scene.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
1. I would love the opportunity to work abroad with an international team.

2. I want to help Nike become the leader in sustainable fashion.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Blais works hard and with compassion, and she has fun doing it.”

I love running, triathlon, hiking, backpacking, watching The Office, playing in the park with friends, waking up to see the sunrise, and eating burritos with a Tecate.

What made Blais such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“I had the pleasure of having Blais in my Corporate Strategy class in the fall of 2019. I structured the course to be heavily discussion-oriented, which required students to not only be prepared for each class but also highly engaged. Blais is adept at absorbing large amounts of information and developing cogent and persuasive arguments that either supported or challenged her classmates’ point of view. Her participation consistently elevated the discussion and enriched the classroom experience for all students. Blais is an exemplary student, and I expect great things from her in the future.”

Laurina Zhang 
Assistant Professor, Strategy & Innovation 

“I could not ask for a more dedicated student leader. Blais leads by example, serving as a champion of sustainability across the academic, professional, and personal parts of her life. Blais’ many achievements include: serving as president of the Net Impact MBA chapter (now one of our College’s largest student groups), completing a Graduate Sustainability Fellow’s project that focused on “greening” the world’s largest 10K road race and leading a student survey that resulted in Scheller College being rated among the top “transforming” business schools in the world (Positive Impact Rating). With her can-do attitude and unwavering optimism, Blais leads the sustainability charge for our MBA student body’s ever-growing army of change-makers.”

Beril Toktay 
Faculty Director, The Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business 


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