Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Derek Hill, Michigan State (Broad)

Derek Hill

Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

“Design thinker, creative problem solver, and sports nerd with a passion for exploring!”

Hometown: Abington, MA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a Black-Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and have traveled to over 20 different countries!

Undergraduate School and Major: Wentworth Institute of Technology, Architecture, BS. Arch + M. Arch

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: CBT Architects; Associate- Asset Strategy and Repositioning

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 first things that stood out to me were Broad’s top-ranked Supply Chain concentration and the innovative and collaborative, team-based curriculum. From the moment of my first visit, I felt like MSU was able to offer the resources of a large school while simultaneously providing the attention to students and detail that a smaller MBA program cohort provide. With a smaller cohort size, as part of a larger network, the close-knit community at Broad is what really shined through as their key differentiator when I was talking to the vast alumni networks.

Once I was able to see and hear about the thought and care that went into each Broad student’s individually tailored curriculum, balanced with the access to world-class research professors and facilities, I immediately knew that Michigan State was the school that was the best fit. Coming from an architecture background, with the goal of transitioning careers into more problem-solving strategy roles, Broad’s support network and Supply Chain alignment offered the resources and tools that I was looking for, in order to follow through with the next steps in my career.

What has surprised you the most about the Broad MBA program? The biggest surprise to me has been how quickly I have been able to personally connect with my fellow Spartans. One of the key aspects to Broad is the Extreme Green Challenge before the start of classes. In this challenge, you are brought together with the teams that you will work with for the year, to present solutions to a case-style problem over the first 4 days. Working in a collaborative environment on a challenge right away really drives and develops strong relationships almost immediately across the cohort. The team-driven set-up gives you a peer-supported network to rely on. It also gives you a glimpse into the different industries and backgrounds represented within our class.

Broad has fostered an environment that has made it very easy to work together, make life-long friendships and connections, even from the early stages on of the program — from the engagement of the clubs and associations,to the Broad Buddy program and Spartan alumni networks.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The word I would use is adaptive-driven. This year has brought a lot of changes and it has been incredible to see and experience how my classmates have consistently adapted to each situation and become impact leaders through it all. One of the biggest surprises has been that intellectual curiosity in our classes has remained strong, showing the impressive resilience of my classmates on full display. The changes due to the pandemic have not set my classmates back, but have actually become a unique source of innovation and creative problem-solving inspiration, adding to the consistently optimistic feelings at Broad.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been in, leading the growth of the highest and best use analysis vertical while at CBT Architects on the Asset Strategy and Repositioning team. When I started at CBT Architects, our team mostly only worked on corporate lobby redesigns. However, after pulling together marketing and urban design teams, and adjusting our pre-design and real-estate development consulting strategy, I was able to add to and diversify our project types alongside the growth of our team. Leading these efforts led to more cross-collaboration between asset strategy and other design silos within the firm, where I had the chance to engage many new colleagues and stakeholders. Some of the new opportunities also allowed me to gain experience on projects at nearly every scale, ranging everywhere from small graphic design projects to $1.2+ billion masterplan and multi-skyscraper developments, as well as design-focused adaptive reuse projects and everything in between.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? It would be being team captain for a national case competition, and leading the team to the final round of the competition. What was the most rewarding part, for me, was getting a close, first-hand look at how much we were able to grow and skill build over the course of just a few days. As the team captain, it was great to take on a leadership role, jump into researching and presenting on an unfamiliar industry, form strategy recommendations, and pull a team together to achieve a common goal. One of the key things we always mention at Broad is, ‘’It is important to get the reps in.’’ I thought by tackling this challenge and accomplishing some of our goals, it was a great experience as well as something rewarding for both myself, and my teammates.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After working closely with clients, real estate developers, and stakeholders at CBT Architects and Dunkin’ Brands, I gained a lot of exposure to business strategy and different types of decision makers beyond the traditional day-to-day, in architecture and design. Gaining this exposure made me want to become more well-rounded as a professional and work on developing the skills that those stakeholders had.

I was looking to add new business and finance skills, to pair with my technical architecture background, to push my career to new heights and better communicate with the teams I was working with across different industries. As an architectural designer, I have always been relentlessly curious. I love taking on new challenges, learning new things, and building new skills. As a result, the MBA was something that I had looked to pursue for quite some time, as I sought to make the transition from design and architecture into more leadership roles.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? While at CBT Architects, working on a tower design for a site near Fenway Park in Boston, I was tasked with developing a design presentation showing ‘’nearly every conceivable design option for the site.’’ This was in order to see the breadth and depth of the project to decide the best direction to move forward.

While this was a tall task on its own, the schedule was also fast-paced as it was complex, adding to the deliverable challenge.

My defining moment came when I was able to handle the unique pressure of pulling together 8 different designers, adapting over 30 different designs, and successfully deliver the presentation to the stakeholders in the short deadline. While working on this major project, I was also able to balance the other projects I had at the time. This moment taught me a lot about, managing your energy as well as your time and setting priorities and goals – all the while, asking the right questions from a place of ambiguity. All of these skills, I believe, have been very helpful in managing my time and growth within the Broad MBA program. The experience allowed me to be well-suited for the challenge of balancing recruiting, classwork, networking, and the time demands of business school.


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