Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ryan McNamara, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Ryan McNamara

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

“Labrador enthusiast, recovering engineer, and creative problem solver with a passion for learning!”

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Having grown up in Maryland, I consider myself a seasoned Chesapeake Bay crabber. My absolute favorite activity is sitting around a table with my closest family and friends enjoying freshly caught Maryland Blue Crabs!

Undergraduate School and Major:

Villanova University, BS in Mechanical Engineering

Villanova University, MS in Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: STEMCO Products, Advanced Product Engineer

What aspect of the school’s culture or values resonates most with you and why? Tuck’s focus on creating an inclusive, tight-knit community really resonated with me because I wanted to be in an environment that valued deep relationships with peers as a core element of my MBA experience. Tuck’s unique location promotes relationship-building and allows the class to focus on spending quality time with each other while surrounded by the beautiful Upper Valley. I have already experienced the quality of connections that this community fosters, where feedback is given and received freely, and deep reflection is encouraged.

Aside from your classmates and culture, 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 emphasis that Tuck places on a structured and rigorous core curriculum was very important to me coming from a background with little formal business training. The alumni network is another highlight, and I have already experienced how willing Tuck alums are to take time out of their busy schedule to support you. 100% of the alumni that I have reached out to have responded with enthusiasm about connecting!

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Accomplished yet humble. I am consistently in awe of the amazing things that my classmates have achieved and the impact on the world that they have already made, yet they present themselves in such a quietly unassuming and humble manner.

They have also proven themselves to be genuinely nice. Whether dropping off cupcakes as a neighborly welcome gift or taking the time out of their day to review a tough assignment with you, they have embodied how special it is to be a part of this community.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Having worked on diesel engines and on heavy-duty suspensions during my engineering career, I was excited to integrate into the recently formed Future of Automotive Mobility Club and connect with fellow Tuckies with interest in the automotive space. I am also extremely excited about the winter sports opportunities (Tripod Hockey, Skiing and Snowboarding) and cannot wait for the cold weather to arrive!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my first job as an engineer post-university, I helped save a nine figure contract with the French government for large diesel generators that were going to be installed as nuclear plant emergency back-ups. After I discovered that there was a major issue with the way that lubricating oil was being measured during engine testing, I designed and implemented a new test method, and then persuaded both union members and the management team to implement the new procedure. This was key because without knowing how much lubricating oil your engine is consuming, you can’t accurately estimate how long your back-up engine will run in the case of a nuclear meltdown. The initial production engine had failed the original test and had put the entire contract at risk. By implementing the new procedure, we were able to resolve the issue. I was asked to present the new method to the customer, who maintained the contract with restored confidence.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  As I began growing into leadership roles within engineering, I started to understand how critical it would be to gain a different viewpoint and skillset to achieve my goal of becoming a general manager one day. After speaking to some of my mentors and leaders within my company, it became clear that an MBA was the right path and would allow me to pivot from engineering and take the leap into cross-functional business leadership. I still hope to stay connected to innovation and hope that by successfully leading a technologically forward business I can make a positive impact on our society and world.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Wharton, and MIT Sloan

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I was asked to define what “nice” meant to me. I had never been asked to define anything in an interview before, so I was initially caught off guard.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? To learn about the different programs, I attended coffee chats with current students and alums, did hours of online research to determine each school’s core values and mission, as well as attended many online webinars for each school where I was considering applying. The factors that I prioritized were the following:

  1. Class size and culture. I wanted a school with a smaller class size that really valued deep relationships with peers as a core element of the MBA experience.
  2. A strong general management curriculum. I knew that in order to become a successful general manager in the future, I would need a comprehensive, holistic program that focuses on understanding the full scope of a business.
  3. Strong alumni network. I wanted to become a part of a community that values its relationships and that I could count on and give back to for the rest of my career.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? The first big failure in my career came when a product that I had recently launched had a major quality issue on the first production batch. I initially took the failure quite hard, but my boss was very supportive and showed me that there were many factors at play and rather to use this as a learning opportunity. This failure gave me the chance to grow immensely by leading a large cross-functional team through the process of root cause analysis, as well as the opportunity to integrate with suppliers to implement corrective actions. These roles would typically not have been led by someone in my position, but I embraced the challenge enthusiastically. Through this experience, I began to see how critical it was to understand the different functions of the business in order to effectively lead an organization in the future. This challenge showed me how perseverance, tenacity, and grit can lead you through any difficult time, and has taught me to take a positive mindset when I experience failure. These traits will be crucial as I grow and take bigger and bigger risks in my career.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I think that Beyond Meat is a very interesting company with extremely ambitious goals. I am not a vegetarian, but I am inspired by their desire to make a lasting and positive impact on not only their customer’s health, but the health and sustainability of our food sources and planet. Their mission exemplifies the importance of having lofty goals that can be your guiding light in difficult times to re-center, re-focus, and remind yourself of your mission.