Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Aric Stahly, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Aric Stahly

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

I am a retired Navy veteran with a passion for helping people feel happy.”

Hometown:  Scottsbluff, NE

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Years ago, when I was in the Navy, I had the opportunity to skydive with my military K-9 strapped to my chest. He absolutely loved the view as we floated over the trees, fields, beach, and traffic below us. Sharing the skies with such a great dog was an experience I hope to never forget!

Undergraduate School and Major:  American Military University – Business Administration (BBA)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:  U.S. Navy – Navy SEAL

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The University’s foundation of faith made the Mendoza College of Business feel like the ideal fit for me. In my experience, faith has been and continues to be the most powerful source of happiness and compassion for all of mankind. I believed that by making faith a core component of its MBA program, the University of Notre Dame would most effectively prepare its alumni to grow the good in business and positively impact societies in these uncertain times. I thought this attribute made Mendoza stand out among other reputable programs, and I was eager to learn how the Notre Dame experience would help me influence the good in business.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? I believe my MBA classmates exemplify human goodness. They have specifically chosen a university that values growing the good in business.  To me, this choice demonstrates that my classmates view business as a force for good in society, that they connect with that value on a personal level, and that they believe the Mendoza College of Business will give them the tools to improve society through their future business activities.

What club or activity excites you most at this school?  I am most excited about the Veteran’s Club. I reached out to the club during the MBA application process and received tremendous outreach in return. Several of its members took personal time to educate me on Mendoza’s full-time program, their experiences with the university, and how the Veteran’s Club supported its members in any way possible.  I did not receive similar outreach from any other MBA program, and I was immediately impressed with the quality of their organization.  Notre Dame’s Veterans Club exemplified the type of community that I had hoped to join as I prepared to retire from the Navy and start my MBA journey.

Mendoza is known as a purpose-driven MBA program that asks students to “Ask More of Business.” What is your mission and how will Mendoza help you realize it? With a Mendoza MBA, I intend to help companies optimize business sustainability and improve Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. I believe Mendoza will expose me to innovative and emerging technologies and business activities that can and will help organizations realize cost savings through efficiency. Further, I believe the Notre Dame alumni network is the ideal resource for identifying and targeting opportunities within companies that value my mission.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my time in the Navy, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a role well above my pay grade. I took command of an overseas remote outpost in a volatile region where the local populace was under constant threat of being overrun by armed insurgents. My outpost comprised a highly-trained team of Americans and several hundred foreign troops. Beyond the challenge of quelling regional disturbances was the added challenge of navigating significant cultural differences and a language barrier to effectively carry out our mission.  Further, unreliable resources and significant scheduling conflicts hindered our international supply line operations. My role demanded quick thinking, effective decision making, sensitivity to personal and cultural priorities, and tremendous adaptability on a daily basis. Our team strengthened its interpersonal relationships, streamlined multiple processes, and successfully carried out critical combat operations that increased security for the local community. I was grateful for the challenge and used the opportunity to refine crucial managerial skills in preparation for leadership roles in the private sector.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  At the time that I first considered pursuing an MBA, I had spent 17 years in the Navy and was looking forward to a 20-year military retirement. Considering that my professional work experiences had been with the Navy, I was uncertain of which industry, company, and functional role would be a good fit for me when I eventually joined the private sector workforce. I had strong leadership and management experience behind me, and I really wanted to apply those skills in a business management role. When I learned of the advantages of a full-time MBA program, specifically the academic concentration opportunities and the career services support, I knew that pursuing an MBA would be the best way to pivot from the military and into the private sector. Exposure to the MBA curriculum would help me pinpoint what it is that really excites me about business and refine my career goals to more effectively target my first civilian job.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I think the hardest question I had to answer was a case study in which I had to explain my thought process when evaluating a project proposal for an addition to the campus stadium. While I had had experience managing projects in the military, they were usually complicated by government contract restrictions and guidelines. The case study challenged my ability to envision decision-making processes outside of those government constraints and in a more permissible project environment. The question was an interesting challenge that I was not fully prepared for.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? When I researched various MBA programs, I was primarily interested in both reputation and location. I was looking for a quality education and a brand and network with a strong influence in the workforce. Further, with a young family in tow, I wanted to move to a safe, affordable location. Second, I was looking for a strong veteran community and a campus location that was outside the city limits of a major metropolis. Notre Dame easily fit all these requirements.  I felt right at home when a couple of the Veterans Club members escorted me to my admissions interview and then gave me a personal tour of the campus and local area afterward.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Very early in my Navy career, I was a candidate for basic SEAL training school. I had enjoyed many successes in life up to this point and, while I had had some self-doubt, I believed that I would again succeed and graduate from the school. However, shortly after starting the intense and physically demanding training, I let myself believe I didn’t have what it took to continue on with training. I ended up quitting the program with about 80% of my peers. I watched the remaining candidates as they endured and closed in on graduation. That moment in my life defined me. I had let myself down by giving up on the one goal that had motivated me in life. I was determined not to let that personal failure define my future. After serving elsewhere in the Navy for a couple of years, I returned to the basic SEAL training school determined to succeed. I committed to doing everything in my physical and mental power to overcome every challenge. That mindset carried through training and on to graduation. Since then, I have applied the same mindset to every challenge that stood in the way of my goals, and I have enjoyed many other successes as a result.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them?  I have enjoyed learning about Delos Living, LLC.  Delos’s mission is to enhance the health and well-being of people in indoor environments. Among other things, the company founded the WELL Building Standard that guides human health and well-being initiatives through building and interior space design. Delos’s DARWIN technology gives homeowners a tool for reducing indoor contaminants and enhancing sleep and personal energy by restoring inhabitants’ natural rhythms. With the advent of COVID-19, Delos has become an important resource for companies and developers looking for ways to attract employees and occupants with healthy indoor environments. As a business student, I look forward to watching Delos continue to improve human lives as businesses navigate the challenges of a new norm in the workplace.

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