2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Jacob Schrimpf, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Jacob Schrimpf

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

“Energetic, empathetic, outgoing leader with a passion for building community and spreading positivity.”

Hometown: Grayslake, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve run 9 full marathons and am training to run my 10th in April 2022.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Notre Dame – BA in Film, Television, and Theatre

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a professional actor and arts educator on the East Coast before business school. My last show before the pandemic was at Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? EY-Parthenon, Chicago

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Consultant, Chicago

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Owen Student Government Association, VP of Education for Owen Human & Organizational Performance Association, VP of Out & Allied, Board Fellow with Nashville in Harmony, Owen Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board, Career Management Center Peer Coach, Communications Fellow, TA for Strategic Management, ROMBA Fellow, ROMBA Student Organizer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my DE&I work with Owen Student Government Association (OSGA). Emerging from the 2020-2021 school year, in which all extracurricular programming was primarily virtual or paused, we had the challenge of both re-starting previous programs and traditions, while simultaneously evaluating the climate to better create an inclusive space for all members of the Owen community. Through my role, I had the chance to launch our Affinity Summit series to support leaders of other affinity clubs at Owen. At the same time, we were able to bring inclusive leadership programming to the student body, organize Cosmopolitan Week to celebrate Owen’s international community, run Humans of Owen (our monthly speaker and discussion series highlighting the diverse perspectives and experiences within our community), plan our Discussion Roulette icebreaker events, coordinate myriad speakers and presentations, serve on Owen’s D&I Advisory Committee, and support DE&I programming across Owen.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While I’m proud of my acting career and the opportunity to perform around the country before business school, I am most proud of my work as an arts educator. Through organizations such as Music Theatre Philly, Walnut Street Theatre, and the Kimmel Center, I developed and led acting curricula, directed music, and taught private lessons for students ages 2-to-adult in settings ranging from weekly theatre school to public school residencies to summer intensives. I taught hundreds of students over the course of my arts education work and firmly believe that this experience improved the creativity, positivity, and empathy of my students. It deeply enriched my life, and I hope it brought joy and growth to my students as well.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Vanderbilt for its small size and intimate community. I wanted to attend a business school where I could get to know others on a personal level – both faculty and staff and other students in my cohort. With cohorts around 150-200 and small class sizes, I believed that I could build deep connections at Owen. I was also impressed by the level of personal attention I received through my recruiting process. In-depth 1:1 conversations with admissions staff, friendly calls from current students, and small group sessions with the career center were just a few of the touchpoints that revealed to me just how friendly the Vanderbilt community is, and this could not have been more true once I began my time at Owen!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have encouraged myself to lead with more confidence early in the MBA experience. Initially, I grappled with imposter syndrome, feeling as if my nontraditional background and lack of business experience would set me behind my intelligent and driven classmates. I was sometimes slower to speak up, nervous to recruit and pursue the professional path I desired, and afraid that I would not cut it academically in business school. However, I soon discovered that my distinct background was a positive differentiator and provided me a unique perspective into the MBA experience.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised by how much of the business school experience occurs outside of the classroom. Between extracurriculars and club leadership, recruiting, social life, internships, and group projects, I have learned so much outside of the classroom that compliments my academic learnings while simultaneously providing ample opportunity to employ course concepts in various settings.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I took the time to understand the uniqueness of Owen’s culture and crafted an application to support that understanding. Owen is very close-knit; people get to know each other personally and quickly, and that translates into a very collegial MBA experience. I made sure to draw out some of my intangible qualities that I believed would make me a good fit for Owen’s culture in my essays, video essay, and admissions interview to demonstrate my commitment to investing in the community.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Anna Kovach. Not only has she become a dear and life-long friend, but she has also taught me how to show up and speak up, whether that is as the leader of a student organization, a class group member, or an ally to amplify the voices of marginalized communities. I have learned so much in leading with values from Anna and strive to one day embody her sense of moral fortitude, empathy, organization, and passion.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My friend and mentor Richard Koonce was pivotal in my decision to pursue my MBA. As an executive coach, he possesses a strong sense of business acumen, but also deeply understands the interpersonal and communications skills necessary for leadership. He helped me realize that a business degree would combine my love of collaboration with a strong analytical toolkit to drive large-scale change. He was a sounding board for me throughout the application process and is still a key mentor for me as I start to think about my life and career after business school.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? In the short term, I want to ensure that I make DE&I work a prominent part of my career. Whether that is consulting specifically on DE&I projects, getting involved in affinity groups at work, or working with local nonprofits, I aim to continue learning and growing as a DE&I leader. In the longer term, I would love to launch my own executive coaching practice, combining knowledge and empathy from my theatre career with the business and leadership acumen gained through my MBA and consulting career.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I now think of a career much more in terms of the ability it provides to create positive impact. Before the pandemic, I was often focused on my own small sphere, whether that was the show I was rehearsing or the voice lesson I was teaching. The pandemic caused me to think more globally, thinking about ways that my career could create positive impact on a larger scale. Now, I aim to maximize positive impact in both my personal and professional life.

What made Jacob such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“In Mod 1, Year 1 of Jacob Schrimpf’s MBA, he stood out in the core Management Communication course as one of the top presenters. With his professional theatre background, he was able to take business data and quickly create compelling business stories. His peers connected with his authenticity that combined logic with emotion. Most importantly, I could see how his peers sought to model his behaviors.

He was interviewed and hired to be one of the select Communication Fellows in his second-year MBA. Watching him coach 20 first-year MBAs was an art. He calms those with stage fright, motivates those who need focus, and challenges advanced speakers. On the Fellows team, he is the first one to offer solutions to other coaches. He continues to stand out as a respected leader as he designs and trains the future Communication Fellows for next year.

Jacob has one of those rare CEO qualities – a beautiful balance of confidence and humility. He was previously trained to understand the power of language and music to move audiences. He now has the knowledge in strategy, operations, analytics, and human and organizational performance. This mix inspires his peers graduating in 2022 and offers a background that businesses really need.”

Kimberly Pace
Professor for the Practice of Communication



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