2020 MBAs To Watch: Allison Lawler, Indiana University (Kelley)

Allison Lawler

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Inclusive and people-centric book worm with a passion for coaching, process efficiency, and personal development.

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, MI

Fun fact about yourself: In my lifetime, I want to visit all of the U.S. National Parks (I have visited 10) and the Seven Wonders of the World (I visited the Great Wall of China during the Kelley GLOBASE China trip last year and will be going to the Taj Mahal in India after a classmate’s wedding in May).

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Bachelor of Arts in English

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Select Specialty Hospital, Human Resources Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018?  Deloitte, Chicago, Illinois

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte, Human Capital Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Kelleys Helping Kelleys, Co-Leader
  • Kelley Coin Recipient (Peer Nominated)
  • Human Capital Club President
  • Kelley Consulting Club Vice President of Professional Development
  • Admissions Counselor (FacultySelected)
  • Kelley Hoosier Host
  • Leadership Academy Peer Coach
  • Kelley Vernon Clapp Competition Coach

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am extremely proud to have been selected by our admissions team to be an admissions counselor for the 2019-2020 school year. Having the opportunity to be a part of the admissions team has given me a unique perspective on the MBA program and has permitted me to have a direct impact on the selection of Kelley’s class of 2022. I interviewed potential candidates, held counseling sessions that help answer questions, connected prospective students with program resources, and completed application reviews. As a result, this position has been incredibly rewarding and a highlight of my MBA career. I feel honored to have had the chance to interact with so many prospective candidates, to represent the Kelley brand and be integrated into the Kelley recruitment process in a way that will help define future leaders of the program.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  When I think of the most rewarding achievements of my professional career, I am most proud of the second position I held at Target Corporation as an Executive Team Leader of Remodel. In this role, one Target leader is selected to prepare, plan and execute a “PFresh” grocery remodel, where a Target retail store undergoes a 13-week store remodel to adapt its layout in order to develop a grocery department, all while the store remains open for general business. The position requires the Executive to recruit, lead, and develop a team of 40 team members and two team leaders, as well as be the primary liaison with a variety of construction representatives.

In this role, I experienced some of the most meaningful lessons of my professional career. It was the first time I contemplated pursuing an MBA to build my business acumen. It taught me the value of having confidence in yourself when accepting opportunities to stretch your skillset. It also helped me to understand how much personal growth can come from challenging roles. When I initially accepted this position, I had trepidations that a non-traditional degree could be a hindrance. When I successfully completed two remodels under budget with positive store results and personal connections to my team, I felt incredible pride in my growth and achievements, as well as a greater sense of professional direction.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  When I think of the amazing professors that have had a large impact on my MBA experience, I immediately think of the support and growth I felt in Will Geoghegan’s Strategic Capabilities course. Will is engaging, has high expectations of his class, and has a clear passion for learning that he is eager to share with his students. I felt that Will was connected to and cared about my personal goals and that he wanted to challenge me to expand my knowledge base and to have a stronger presence in the classroom.

Why did you choose this business school? Kelley was the right business school for me for three key reasons: the Kelley community, the program resources, and the personalized development focus.

  • The Kelley Community: Kelley students, faculty, professors, and alumni have fostered a collaborative, pay-it-forward culture that is founded on building personal connections and helping one another to be successful. This program felt like a great fit from the first time I visited campus.
  • Program Resources: As a career switcher, I wanted to make sure I found a program that would support me in taking steps to pursue a different career path. The support that our Graduate Career Services provides resume reviews, mock interviews, and alumni connections made me feel like I would have a reliable support system. Additionally, the academy structure acts as a bridge between coursework and applying these learnings to an internship, which made the idea of a career switch less daunting.
  • Personalized Development: Prior to core curriculum starting, Kelley hosts a two-week-long Me Inc. program focused on introspectively assessing your leadership style and goals. The structure of this program places value on every student being reflective and personal development focused.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  There is not one ideal Kelley candidate and the program values the unique experiences, goals, and backgrounds of their students. When you go through the interview process, be yourself, highlight what is important to you, and how your background will contribute to the program. As this is a very collaborative and personal development-focused setting, being able to share how your background impacts your teamwork focus and leadership potential are great ways to showcase why Kelley would be a great fit for you.

What is the biggest myth about your school?  The biggest myth I hear about Kelley is that our program is focused on students interested in pursuing a career in marketing. I have really enjoyed the marketing classes I have taken at Kelley, but I feel there is equal strength and program focus in all aspects of business. Due to the more intimate size of Kelley, students can highlight their post-MBA goals and cater their resources (from career services support to academies, student-run clubs, and courses) to help them achieve their personal goals. Although I do have a handful of classmates who are pursuing consumer or business marketing positions and our program has great resources in this subject area, the diverse professional goals of my classmates and our broad alumni network validate that Kelley’s program is focused on all realms of business.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?  During my first week at Kelley, my Me Inc. facilitator noted that our most valuable resource during the next two years would be our time. She was candid that we would need to be selective in deciding what to become involved in, balance the demands of a full-time MBA with personal life responsibilities, and learn how to most effectively structure our schedule, commitment, and goals to take full advantage of the two-year program. As I am nearing graduation, I do feel that I have figured out how to be more intentional with my time and have found a method to effectively dedicate my time to build the skillsets, relationships, and experiences that were important to my MBA journey. However, I struggled to find this balance in the beginning of the program. I would not have done anything differently in my MBA — I’ve found that every success and failure is a helpful teacher — but I wish I had spent more time leading up to my MBA to define how I could have been most intentional with my time to reduce this learning curve.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?  I met Allie Zinski during Kelley’s experience weekend and am grateful to call her a classmate and friend. Allie is unwaveringly loyal, a thoughtful communicator who has incredible follow through and consistently approaches situations with integrity and diligence. Coming from an untraditional background as a speech language pathologist, Allie is courageous when approaching ambiguity and welcomes any opportunity to learn something new or further develop her knowledge and skills. I admire Allie’s ability to balance warmth and tenacity in professional settings. Allie consistently creates an inclusive environment where others feel like a valued part of the team. She also naturally takes on leadership roles in teams that she is a part of thanks to her innate project management skills, dependability, and open-mindedness. Whether she is helping classmates prepare for interviews, planning social events for the MBA program, or is contributing to a team project, Allie exemplifies the Kelley values and enhances every setting where she is a part.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad has always been one of the most influential people in my life. He owned his own dental practice and taught me from a young age the importance of conducting business with integrity, trust, dependability, and a focus on high-quality work. For three summers, I worked as a dental assistant in his office and saw first-hand how he navigated running his own business. I witnessed how he balanced taking the time to form genuine relationships with his patients and staff while ensuring office operations were seamless. He truly understood how much he loved the profession that he chose. My dad has always inspired me to pursue any opportunity that will help me grow on a personal or professional level and has provided me with a tangible example of what it means to be passionate about your life work. His example and support have had one of the largest impacts on my decision to pursue an MBA and to find a career I am equally passionate about.

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

  1. To work and live in another country
  2. To become a mentor

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as being inclusive, reliable, genuine, and having high integrity.

Hobbies? Traveling, reading, completing DIY crafts (anything from calligraphy to painting or refurbishing furniture), sending hand-written letters to family/friends, and cooking.

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

“In addition to being an all-around dedicated student, wonderful teammate, and terrific admissions counselor, Allison has stepped up to lead a group that we launched in early 2019. This organization, called Kelleys Helping Kelleys is a student-run support group for students who are dealing with death or illness in their family or close circle. These kinds of situations, which are hard for anyone, are made even more difficult when combined with the demands of MBA studies, a job search, and the many other aspects of life in general. Alison’s compassion, caring, and leadership has brought together students who needed a confidential setting in which to share their feelings and the myriad challenges associated with these difficult situations. All of us in the Kelley MBA community greatly appreciate her sensitivity and support for classmates who needed a helping hand.”

Gale Gold Nichols, CPCC
Executive Director
Full-Time MBA Program
Indiana University Kelley School of Business


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