Meet The MBA Class of 2022: Franklin Popek, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Franklin Popek

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

Retail / CPG enthusiast walking with purpose – energized by creativity, guided by values, fueled by faith.”

Hometown: Cleveland, OH

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was most likely on your childhood toy boxes. I was a child model. (20+ years later and my picture is STILL being used by online retailers like Amazon to sell the toys!)

Undergraduate School and Major: Miami University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Consultant, Deloitte Consulting

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? As an undergraduate student at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, I benefited from the school’s unique commitment to devoting resources to the undergraduate business education. The individual relationships with professors and administration, the abundance of experiential learning, and the opportunities for leadership at the highest levels accelerated my personal and professional growth. For my graduate education, I desired a program that had the same emphasis on personal scale. I saw this in Vanderbilt Business. I knew Owen’s commitment to its graduate education would challenge me to achieve my potential, unlock support as I shaped my future, and open doors to new possibilities. I knew the personalized MBA would enable me to continue to ‘stand-out’ rather than ‘sit-in’ – both in my MBA and into the professional world.

At Owen, you are part of one of the most dynamic business environments in the country. What has made Nashville such a great place to live and learn for you? Growth is the operative word in business, and the Music City is growing like crazy. The rapid growth rate, especially among young professionals, can be attributed to Nashville’s expanding job market, its high quality of life, and its low cost of living. Nashville serves as the perfect opportunity to live in a big city while studying without breaking the savings account. Apart from being home to several big corporations, Nashville has become a startup hub. These qualities made Nashville attractive as I pursue lifelong friends and mentors and experiential learning opportunities.

…and do not forget the allure of live music (all genres) on every corner!

What quality best describes your MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Vanderbilt Business students are industrious. We all entered the MBA experience knowing our two years would be a series of trade-offs between coursework, internship and full-time recruitment, and personal priorities. I have been impressed by classmates’ grit, diligence, and combination of control and creativity to maximize value across all three areas.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: In consulting, success is measured by client impact. It is imperative to deliver value above the statement of work, but I am most grateful for the opportunity I had to champion diversity and inclusion at the highest level of my client and other global enterprises.

For three years, in partnership with Academy Award-winning Geena Davis and client executives, I had the pleasure of producing three executive-level diversity and inclusion summits as part of a local film festival. I led the strategic visioning, planning, and show-running of each summit. These summits hosted chief executives from the world’s largest retail, consumer packaged goods, media, entertainment, and advocacy organizations. The opportunity to deliver impact on shared values at a global scale was my crowning achievement.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? In any other year, I may have responded differently. Having started as an MBA student in 2020 – where we wore masks to class and sat more than six feet apart – my biggest accomplishment so far has been making several deep-rooted friendships. Because of the proactive and comprehensive efforts of Vanderbilt, we have fortunately attended in-person classes. In class, I have been able to connect with classmates on topics that interest me most – like consumer behavior trends and the future of retail. I have bridged those connections to forge friendships outside of the classroom based on shared interests – like religion and sports. Even in a world where we are physically apart, we can remain socially connected.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Through my four years in consulting, I obtained exposure to different industries and functions, worked with the largest clients to solve tough problems, and developed valuable transferrable skills. These great experiences led me to my career aspiration of becoming a marketing leader. By pursuing an MBA, I can become technically sound across all elements of marketing, including brand innovation, creative, customer experience, strategy, and data & technology – while also practicing how to expertly apply my skills in unplanned ways.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? The summer after my first year of undergraduate, I was presented with the opportunity to intern with a multinational agriculture company. I lacked knowledge about the agriculture industry and its equipment. The only agriculture operation I was familiar with was my single tomato plant and my push lawnmower. That summer, which included moving to a state I had never been to prior to the first day of the internship, I developed new internal muscles.

I quickly learned the parts of a Combine, began piecing together the inputs required to accurately manage materials, and adapted to working in a corporate setting. Most importantly, I cultivated internal muscles to change on the fly, foster a team-oriented environment, and seek out opportunities for continual improvement – muscles I believe are imperative to personal and professional success.

DON’T MISS: Meet Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class Of 2022

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