2020 MBAs To Watch: James Gethings, Boston College (Carroll)

James Gethings

Boston College, Carroll School of Management

“Outgoing and fun, someone who is intellectually curious and always looking for the next challenge.”  

Hometown: Dublin, Ireland

Fun fact about yourself: I started my career as a professional rugby player in the United Kingdom.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Trinity College Dublin, BA (Hons.), Economics & Geography

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked in finance in London for five years with Bank of Ireland UK. My two most recent roles were Business Implementation Manager and Product Manager. I was responsible for the day-to-day management of the credit card portfolio, and the planning and delivery of several large-scale change programs.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Simon-Kucher & Partners, New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? I will return to Simon-Kucher & Partners as a Senior Consultant on their banking team.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • As part of my community work at Boston College, I am involved in a program called Invest ’N Kids (INK). The program is run by graduate students and is an after-school program that aims to help underprivileged middle-schoolers with their homework.
  • As a member of the Graduate Consulting Club, I have participated in workshops and sat on student informational panels sharing my previous experiences and providing advice to current students. I have also worked with the admissions team helping to recruit prospective students, acting as an ambassador for the program at informational events.
  • I am a recipient of the Denis O’Brien Fellowship.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the things that I am most proud of is being able to balance my studies and extracurricular activities during business school with my personal life. I have really enjoyed working with my fellow MBA students on interesting projects, and on extracurricular activities outside of the classroom such as case competitions. At the same time, I have been able to successfully manage the demands of the full-time MBA program with getting married last year and moving with my wife to settle in a new country and city. Investing time in family and creating the right work-life balance is very important to me and these experiences have taught me the importance of continually managing this as part of my future career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the achievements I am most proud of is leading the development and launch of a mobile banking app for credit cards. As Bank of Ireland UK is a partnership bank that white labels its services to third parties, I had to ensure that not only the bank’s internal requirements were met, but that I also met the demands of our partners and their customers. This often meant difficult conversations and long hours. However, in the end, by building a strong working relationship with our partners and keeping all stakeholders on track, the project was delivered. It resulted in a quality mobile product delivered to the market and taught me the importance of communication and relationships in business.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have a number of favorite professors, so picking one is tough! Professors Bradshaw, Hotchkiss, Wosepka, Sengul, and Welch have all helped me to develop and hone my financial and strategic skillset. However, one professor who comes to mind is Professor Clifford Holderness. I really enjoyed his innovative approach to teaching Economics. Even though I had studied it as part of my undergraduate degree, I discovered a new way of thinking about the topic. Professor Holderness challenged us to think differently about the world around us and the economic forces influencing it.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? For me, it wasn’t any single event or tradition per se, but the community within the MBA program. I have really enjoyed the culture and tight-knit community within the Carroll School. It hasn’t just been the interactions with my current classmates, but also my interactions with the professors, staff, and alumni that have all contributed to the amazing atmosphere within the program and have made my time at Boston College very enjoyable.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Carroll School of Management because the broad curriculum and small class sizes meant that I could tailor my MBA to my preferences and have a more personalized learning experience. Other factors, such as the school’s extensive network in the US, its impressive faculty, and the focus on excellence also played a major part in my decision. Finally, being Irish, I really liked the strong connection between Boston College and Ireland.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Whenever I have discussed this with a prospective student, my first piece of advice is to be authentic and make the application personal. Really ask yourself why you want to pursue an MBA and translate that into your essays. Make sure to tell your story. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to current students. It’s a great way to get a unique insight into the program and show the admissions team your interest.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before joining the MBA program at Boston College, I had heard that it would be a finance-heavy program and most students would be specializing in finance. The truth is that although there are some great finance classes and finance professors, the curriculum is much broader. I have taken several finance classes, but I have also taken a wide range of other classes in marketing, operations, strategy, data analytics, and machine learning.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I think I would try to be even more involved in extracurricular activities. Sometimes, you can get caught up in the academics of an MBA and forget that this is a unique time in your life when you have the time to try new things.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are so many successful and interesting people in the program, it is hard to pick just one. However, two in particular that come to mind are Adam Bolton and Eddie Walsh. Both have spent many years serving in the US military and are making the transition into a career in business. I not only admire them for their service to their country but the fact that they have successfully made this transition while juggling their academic workload with young families. Both are hardworking and dedicated individuals who lead by example. It has been a pleasure working with them in the program and great fun getting to know them socially.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents and my wife were the biggest influences on my decision to pursue an MBA. They have always pushed me to be the best I can be and have massively supported me during my time in the program. In particular, my mother – who is a successful entrepreneur – has always encouraged me to consider business school. She understands the valuable education you receive during an MBA and the opportunities that exist afterward. So, when I was looking to make a change in my career, she reminded me of this and suggested I complete my MBA. I am very glad she did!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? When I have accumulated enough experience, I would like to become a mentor to others. Also, at some point in the future, I would like to run my own business.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As an approachable and friendly person who is very driven and ambitious, someone they can always reach out to in the future.

Hobbies? I am a sports enthusiast. I really enjoy rugby, soccer, golf, and skiing. I am also a big outdoors person who loves to travel and explore new places. When I am not on the move, I enjoy a good book or film.

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

“On paper, James has an impressive resume. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he was awarded the O’Brien Fellowship at the Carroll School of Management after a successful career in finance, at Bank of Ireland UK, and in sports, as a professional rugby player. While all of these achievements are certainly additive to a resume, perhaps what isn’t as obvious is James’s drive and personality. Intelligent, down-to-earth, and hard-working, James approaches everything as if he is preparing for a rugby match. Whether it is developing a strategy for addressing business cases in the classroom, or taking on his internship and job search, James has untiringly put in the time, energy, and teamwork necessary for success.

His leadership skills and dedication has been a benefit for his classmates and the program alike and has allowed him to ambitiously pursue his career goals. James loves a challenge and will bring all of these positive attributes to his next role as a Senior Consultant at Simon-Kucher in their New York City office.”

Marilyn Eckelman
Associate Dean, Graduate Programs
Carroll School of Management


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