Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Katelyn Leal, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Katelyn Leal

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

“Like Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious!”

Hometown: Bradenton, Florida

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have jumped out of planes, but I still fear HEIGHTS!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of South Florida; double majored in Accounting and Economics, with a minor in Criminology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Department of Defense – U.S. Army; Signals Intelligence Analyst

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Kenan-Flagler’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose UNC Kenan-Flagler for the rigor of its program, which has led to being STEM designated! I have been surrounded by technology, contrary to my lack of affinity towards it, so I might as well learn to co-exist and run with it. Additionally, I knew I could count on not only this facet, but also the myriad of other factors for personal and professional growth. These include technological and other soft skills as well as increasing my general business acumen, as I look forward to a career shift after my military experience.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Kenan-Flagler?  I am excited to be a part of the Veterans Association and Carolina Women in Business student groups. I am just as thrilled and excited to also take part in some lighthearted, non-academic experiences by participating in the Adventure Club – hopefully finding some new friends to travel with as well as form awesome memories!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The past five years in the military, along with a recent deployment to Iraq in 2020, have by far been my proudest accomplishment. Five years ago, I would have never thought I would have been able to achieve the physical benchmarks, be deployed in support of a U.S. military intelligence mission, jumped out of planes, and become a Sergeant who successfully led a group of novices. I can undoubtedly thank this military background for culminating in my acceptance into UNC Kenan-Flagler.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID made the choice to attain my MBA a no-brainer! The time was right. I had no excuse of not having time to go back to school. The pandemic illuminates how resilient we all are and able to tackle unexpected circumstances.

What is the most important quality of a leader…and why is it so important to success?

Emotional Intelligence: It allows a leader to gain an understanding of their team and build respectful and trustworthy relationships that motivate their team to succeed and rise above benchmarks.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I want a degree that is well-rounded and does not pigeonhole me – one that is challenging and dynamic.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? NC State and George Washington University

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program? Be yourself; be different; be humble and open to new challenges. To quote Wilson Fisk, DareDevil, “Challenges are just opportunities that haven’t presented themselves.”


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