2020 MBAs To Watch: Casey Bufford, Indiana University (Kelley)

Casey Bufford   

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“Driven mom and wife who wants to make a positive difference.”

Hometown: Chicago Heights, Illinois

Fun fact about yourself: I started taking violin lessons during B-School after a 20+ year hiatus

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan, BA Sport Management; Northeastern University, MA Sports Leadership

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? George Mason University, Adjunct Professor

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Procter and Gamble, Cincinnati, OH

Where will you be working after graduation? Discover Financial Services, MBA Leadership Program

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Kelley Association of Women MBAs
  • Admissions Counselor, MBA Office
  • Co-Lead, Diversity Committee, MBA Association
  • 1st year Liaison, Kelley Marketing Club
  • Volunteer, Habitat for Humanity Build
  • Volunteer, Lotus Education
  • Volunteer, Pantry 279

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the work my team and I did for the Association of Women MBAs. We had a vision of building up a community of women to leverage today and post-MBA, and we executed five new events during our term that did just that. We organized a boxing event to practice self-care. We had three small group dinners to discuss topics such as failure, speaking up, and coping with stress. We hosted a “Galentines” event that was open to all women at Kelley (faculty, staff, and students) about relationships. We raised more than $27,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington. We’ve accomplished a lot and I’m very proud of our work.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’ve been able to impact so many college students and student-athletes during my career in higher education, whether it was through creating networking experiences with donors or implementing leadership development programs. As a former collegiate athlete, I always wanted to make their experience better than mine, even though I had a phenomenal experience. Those students have gone on to do amazing things across the world and it makes me proud that I played a small part in their growth and development.

I was also a stay-at-home mom for two years, which is a very under-recognized profession. It was the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’m most proud of my ability to work as an adjunct professor, study for the GMAT, raise a happy and smart infant, cook five to six times a week, and maintain my marriage — all at the same time.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor was Rockney Walters. He brings his personality, expertise, and humor to the classroom every day, making the learning experience fun and engaging. Never have I laughed as hard and learned in every single class of a term.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? At Kelley, we clap at the end of every class. This signifies a celebration of the learning happened by both faculty and student. I appreciate a school who values and celebrates learning in tangible way.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Kelley because of the culture. The people are down-to-earth and willing to help each other. I had a family friend, who was also a mom, who attended Kelley and she raved about her experience. From the support of partners and families to helping career switchers, Kelley was the right place for me.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Show your personality. Kelley has students from across the world with unique backgrounds. My classmates are proud of who they are, their experiences, and where they want to go. This makes for a fun and collaborative culture.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is we are only a marketing school. While we have a very strong and successful marketing pipeline, my classmates are going into tech, finance, investment banking and consulting — You can go into any industry at Kelley.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I’ve been heavily involved in a lot of things, in addition to being a mom and wife. I think I would have limited my involvement to spend more time hanging out with my classmates in our meeting spaces.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire so many of my classmates, but the one I most admire is Nate Stebbins. Nate is awesome! He’s a dad of three (had his third in school). He’s a Christian who is passionate about sharing Jesus. What I most admire is his ability to speak up for others. There was a time where a number of my classmates were at a corporate event and we were hesitant about asking questions relating to diversity and inclusion for fear of being labeled. We asked if he would present our questions and he did so without hesitation and with conviction. He is the true definition of an ally and I’m appreciative of him for that.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom was my biggest influence. I knew I wanted to exit higher education but wasn’t exactly sure of what was next. She encouraged me to pursue an MBA to expand my knowledge and network and 10 months later, I was accepted into Kelley.

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

  1. Start my own business focused on women or minorities
  2. Live abroad on an international assignment

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I want to be remembered as a thoughtful leader.

Hobbies? Working out, playing the violin, reading, journaling, spending time with family

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

Casey is a dynamic, thoughtful leader. She has taken advantage of numerous opportunities during her time at Kelley to learn and grow personally and professionally. As President of the Kelley Women Club, her passion for gender equity, energy and strategies for empowerment and inclusion were embraced and implemented. As an admissions counselor she leveraged her previous work experience in higher education and new skills from her MBA to welcome, interview and assess prospective student talent – mentoring and developing meaningful relationships with future MBA students at Kelley and within The Consortium. Casey exudes intelligence and radiates warmth. She is sure to be successful in her new role at Discover and in her continued roles as a leader, a wife, and mother.”

Kristen McCain
Associate Director of Admissions
IU Kelley School of Business