2021 MBAs To Watch: Kailey Howell-Spooner, Ivey Business School

Kailey Howell-Spooner

Ivey Business School at Western University

“Strategy-driven team player who is passionate about diversity and inclusion, craft beer and classic movies.”

Hometown: London, Ontario

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been singing opera since high school! My poor classmates have had to suffer through a few open mic nights featuring Mozart.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Queen’s University, English Language and Literature

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Shaw Communications as a Communications Lead

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Ivey is a one-year program without internships.

Where will you be working after graduation? At Deloitte as a Senior Consultant in Operations Transformation

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Forté Fellow, Pass the Glass Co-Senator and Class Valedictorian

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m very proud of the work I did as co-Senator of the Pass the Glass club to support women leading in business. This year, we started a mentorship program to connect current female Ivey students with the incoming women of the next class, to set them up for success before they begin the program. We received lots of positive feedback, and it’s a great way to make the Ivey community feel more like a family that continues to grow, year after year.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Shaw Communications, I was responsible for leading the rollout of the strategic vision of the company to all 10,000+ employees. Through the program we were able to increase employee engagement scores from 59% to 75% in only 12 months, which was a huge achievement.

Why did you choose this business school? I’ve always loved the case study method because you get the opportunity to place yourself in the shoes of the decision-maker. It can be easy to criticize someone else’s decisions (especially in retrospect), but when you are forced into a similar position yourself, it really broadens your perspective and strengthens your creative-thinking skills. Additionally, hearing how your peers would tackle the same problem gives you the opportunity to learn from their educational, work, and cultural experiences.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Fraser Johnson was one of my favourite professors this year. He has tons of both industry and academic experience and was able to integrate both flawlessly into our Operations class this year. In fact, his class inspired me to pursue a role in Operations after my MBA.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Hindsight is 20/20! In this case, I would have pushed myself to join a case competition. From what my colleagues have said, it is a great way to practice your skills, work with new people in the program and learn from other schools.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think some people believe that it’s harder to change careers because there are no summer internships at Ivey, but I didn’t feel that way. Even though I was coming from an Arts background, with six years’ experience in communications and PR, I was quickly able to see myself in a consulting career. Ivey gave me all the education, tools and resources to make it happen – I just had to put in the work!

What surprised you the most about business school? How collegiate and supportive it is. I was worried the program would be cut-throat or that my peers would be ruthlessly competing to get into the top companies, or top marks. Instead, what I found was that Ivey focused on recruiting students who are genuine, collaborative, and supportive. Even in the stress of recruiting, everyone was always willing to run case interviews or behavioral mock interviews. The culture and relationships you create in the MBA are more important than the first job you land. Although you’ll likely land your first role out of the MBA from the work you did with Career Management, your second role will come from a connection you made with someone at school.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think something that helped me stand out was that I did not apologize or try to make excuses for my Arts background. It’s a legitimate academic realm, with lots of rigor and strategy–just not in the way that most people think about it. In fact, I made sure to emphasize how beneficial my education was during my career and how I felt it could benefit my colleagues in the classroom.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Lauren Iuliani – Lauren is an MBA Direct, which means she did her undergraduate at Ivey, and came back to Ivey a few years later complete her MBA in six months. From day one, Lauren was absolutely fearless about joining the class and getting to know people. She is endlessly kind, always offering to help and joining every cause she believes in with gusto. She has made a lot of space in the program to talk about mental health and to keep the class connected despite lockdown. She is such a positive leader with a bright future ahead of her!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? It was difficult – especially because everyone goes into the program with their own ideas of what they want for the year. I think the disappointment of those dreams not being realized added to the difficulty. No matter the circumstances, the program is what you make of it – whether you’re online, in person, or hybrid. No one is going to hand you your MBA experience, you need to seize whatever opportunities you can to create relationships and memories. You will get out of the experience what you put into it.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother, Jane. She was the first person in her family to go to college. After her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Psychology, she pursued her MBA and PhD in Organizational Behaviour. She was an inspirational leader and champion of women leading in business. My mother strongly believed that education is the best way to empower and lift women around the world – something that has continued to resonate with me as a Forté Fellow and that I hoped I fostered as a Pass the Glass senator.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to work and live abroad in Europe for a few years. I lived in England for a transformative year in university and I would love the chance to go back overseas and gain more international experience. I would also love the opportunity to lead my own business unit in the future.

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

“As a member of Ivey’s MBA Class of 2021, Kailey Howell-Spooner is an exemplar who personifies, in her words, the “genuine, collaborative, and supportive” type of graduate student that the School diligently recruits. Following her mother’s belief that education is empowering, Kailey’s positivity and engagement in all her in-class and out-of-class learning endeavors inspired the intrapersonal thriving for many of her colleagues despite the external disruptions and uncertainties encountered during the one-year duration of the MBA program. The respectful, caring, and uplifting connections that Kailey established within the School’s diverse and inclusive student community was a major reason behind her colleagues’ selection of her as the valedictorian of Ivey’s MBA Class of 2021.”

Larry Menor
MBA Program Faculty Director




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