2021 MBAs To Watch: Jonathan Harris, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Jonathan Harris

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Scrappy, sociable, resourceful, and passionate friend who loves a good spin workout and curated outfit.”

Hometown: Gorgeous Prince George’s County, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I was once an elected official. Inspired by Barack Obama, I started advocating for students in my high school leading to me running and being elected to the Prince George’s County Board of Education.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.S. Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in System Architecture.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Anheuser-Busch InBev, New York for the Budweiser Marketing team. My summer project entailed researching and recommending ownable occasions for the Budweiser portfolio.

Where will you be working after graduation? Anheuser-Busch InBev, Global MBA Program. I am excited to continue my marketing career with a company that is always adapting and pushing boundaries. The opportunities from a marketing, and learning perspective are limitless!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Kellogg Posse Foundation Scholar

KSA Careers, Director of Strategic Initiatives

Day at Kellogg, Chair of Social and Housing

Black Management Association, Director of Alumni Relations

Black Management Association, 1st Year Director of Communications

Black Management Association’s Night at the Apollo 2020, Host

Annual Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review, 2021 Participant

Annual Kellogg Marketing Challenge, 2020 Participant

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  It was being a part of the Social and Housing Committee for Day at Kellogg (DAK). DAK, Kellogg’s admitted students’ weekend, was the deciding factor for me to attend Kellogg because I was able to meet members of the community, realizing they were who I wanted to spend my MBA experience with. It was great to be a part of the team of students who helped the Class of 2022 realize Kellogg was the right place for them too. I was able to help create a sense of belonging for the Class of 2022 and be one of the first touchpoints for building community among the class.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Early in my career at Booz Allen, my manager challenged me to take on a senior client assignment that was typically led by a Lead Associate. It was a time-sensitive, mission-critical project that, if done right, would ingratiate this senior client to Booz Allen and solve their mission-critical need. I rose to the challenge and provided a recommendation that solved the critical issue this client was facing. This led to additional ad hoc work for Booz Allen, a pleased manager, and a promotion for me.

As an entry-level consultant, you rarely get opportunities to lead teams or work on a project that has a direct and immediate impact on the client. The results of my work informed decision-making at the highest levels of the organization and it also strengthen my confidence as a consultant.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Kellogg because of its world-class marketing program. I desired to be a marketer and a better leader, and I wanted to learn from the best marketing professors. Iron sharpens iron. Kellogg has not disappointed in this area and the breadth of Kellogg’s marketing courses is vast.

There are ample marketing courses to choose from, and the extensive selection has allowed me to target the specific areas I wanted to understand. Also, a number of Kellogg’s marketing cases are developed in-house, which enables professors to provide additional context, videos, and interviews to highlight the key takeaways, which is even more so beneficial.

From an experiential learning perspective, there are many opportunities to put into practice what we learn inside the classroom, outside of it too. For example, I created and optimized live Facebook ads in Professor Scott Levy’s Digital Marketing Implementation class. I also learned first-hand how to navigate the success of Super Bowl advertising with Professors Tim Calkins and Derek Rucker’s Annual Super Bowl Ad Review. All of the aforementioned elements of my experience continuously remind me why I chose Kellogg.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor, hands-down, has to be Professor Kevin McTigue. He treats his classes like how an award-winning actor treats the stage – he’s a master presenter. I had the pleasure of taking Advertising Strategy with him during my first year, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has it been one of the best classes I have taken at Kellogg, but it is also one of the most useful. He is a practical professor who possesses a myriad of experiences working hands-on with agencies, brands, and companies. He focuses on the technical details of what we will face as marketers on the job, going more in-depth than just the theory itself. And he is always willing to help; he offered great advice when I sought guidance on my summer project.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Kellogg is known for a few extraordinary events and traditions like KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Experiences & Service Trips), Black Management Association’s Night at the Apollo, Pride @ Kellogg’s Drag Show, TG’s, and the Taste of Kellogg. My favorite event was the Annual Kellogg Marketing Challenge. It is a week-long challenge where students form groups and use their marketing intuition to market products to Kellogg students and visiting brand managers. At the end of the week, each team creates a booth display in White Auditorium, and there is an old-fashion marketplace sell-off where you have to use your wits and charm to get the most students to “buy” your product. It was a fantastic time!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? There are so many opportunities at Kellogg; it’s tough to decide what you want to participate in! One opportunity I wish I had applied to was Kellogg Board Fellows. It is a tremendous opportunity to serve as an ex-officio board member for nonprofit organizations around Chicago, while simultaneously completing two courses in board governance at Kellogg. My friends who are in the program rave about the experience they are gaining.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that Kellogg is just a marketing school. I truly believe that Kellogg is the best marketing school, but we also have impressive programs and pathways that send so many students into tech, consulting, venture capital, and social impact. This singular narrative should be retired.

What surprised you the most about business school? While I knew Kellogg would attract and enroll some of the sharpest future business leaders, I was not necessarily expecting to be classmates with such remarkable people. At DAK, I remember being enthralled at how impressive and dynamic my potential classmates were. It both humbled and motivated me while helping to intensify the excitement I felt regarding being to touch elbows with these individuals and develop meaningful relationships with them.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Applying for Management Leadership for Tomorrow’s (MLT) MBA Prep program was invaluable. MLT is a nonprofit focused on closing the minority opportunity gap in Corporate America. African Americans make up 12% of the US population, but less than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs. And the numbers remain just as objectionable when you look at the C-suite, mid-level, entry-level, and funding data. MLT has programs to tackle the inequalities that have engendered the low numbers at each access point into corporate America. The MBA Prep program specifically takes top talent and teaches them the same unwritten rules that legacy MBA families and elite prep programs do to turn this talent into M20 ready candidates with equal footing.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? While I admire a ton of my classmates, the first person who came to mind is Ms. Kellogg – Tracey Fetherson. She is the personification of servant leadership. She is always the first to raise her hand to help, but the last to complain. No one could have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that came with it, but Tracey rose to the occasion and led us through her participation as the EVP of Diversity and Inclusion for Kellogg’s Student Association and involvement in the Black Management Association. I appreciate her fair and measured leadership this year.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? From an academic perspective, I transitioned smoothly to the online learning environment. Kellogg professors take pride in their class presentations, and I think the online class experience is just as good as in-person. Socially, these past two quarters have been challenging. In my opinion, 50% of the business school experience is connecting with classmates and professors, and virtual learning has limited the opportunities to connect with folks organically. To counteract this, I recently decided to set up three coffee chats per week, one of which being with someone I’ve never met before. Clubs have also done their part trying to connect the community virtual. Every week there are a multitude of virtual events from cooking classes hosted by professional chefs or students alike, game nights, or “meet the professor” lunches and guest speaker series. Another positive that has come from the hybrid environment this year is that the Kellogg Student Association, student club leads, faculty, and staff have all worked together to make some of our most popular courses and professors available as lunch and learn or mini seminars.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Damon Williams, the former Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer at UW-Madison, was a significant role model during my undergraduate career. One of the most purposeful things he introduced me to was the value of internships. Dr. Williams held the “Internships in the New Economy Student Leadership Symposium” that exposed underrepresented students to national organizations that host internships, on-the-job training, and pre-professional learning opportunities. At this event, I got connected to Management Leadership for Tomorrow. At the same time, I saw Michael V. Roberts, the billionaire entrepreneur, speak about how he was able to pivot to business. This was a huge inspiration to me.

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

The first is to create an iconic Super Bowl campaign. The Super Bowl is the biggest stage for marketers and the best opportunity to capture your consumer’s hearts and minds. It is also the one time your consumer wants you to market to them. I would love to work on a campaign that launches an up-and-coming brand to the forefront.

The second – I’d like to become the CMO of a Fortune 500 company. Following Bozoma Saint John’s (CMO of Netflix) footsteps in her marketing work, and how she has taken control of her career by continually challenging herself and knowing her worth and value.

What made Jonathan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Jonathan Harris brings a great balance of passion and diligence. He’s a charismatic leader that showcases the best of Kellogg’s famous collaborative spirit. But, importantly, he has the depth and patience to dig into the details. In marketing, we talk about the importance of “customer centricity” – seeing through the eyes of your customer to understand where and how to create value. Jonathan has a deep natural empathy, that besides making him just a nice guy, really helps him better understand customers. He’s the embodiment of the kind of brave leader we need to drive success in today’s market.”

Kevin McTigue
Clinical Professor of Marketing




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