Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management (and McCormick School of Engineering -MMM)
“Optimistic energizer bunny, sarcastic yet warm humor who always believes the best in people.”
Hometown: Rockford, IL
Fun Fact About Yourself: I started a hard rock band in high-school into college – I was the drummer and backup vocalist. We got signed by a recording studio and released our debut album on iTunes – sadly it is no longer available.
Undergraduate School and Major: Olivet Nazarene University, BS in Chemistry, Forensics Concentration
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: US Army Special Operations, Director of Strategy
Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Kellogg is an industry leader in innovative techniques to provide a world class education that is extremely relevant to the modern business world. Kellogg is not just preparing you for your next career move: it’s about being a leader that is always asking, what’s next?
I think this is clearly seen in the various programs that Kellogg offers. The fact that there are so many programs available (1Y, 2Y, MBAi, MMM, etc.) speak to Kellogg’s drive to always be at the forefront of business and innovation. I chose Kellogg because of the MMM program, a dual degree with an MBA and MS in Design and Innovation. I saw the program as a great way to pivot into the tech industry, having very little industry knowledge, yet a passion for understanding human behavior. The MMM program is a human-centered design framework and was exactly the experience I was looking for, the intersection of business, technology, and design.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? I am really excited about Kellogg’s entrepreneurship-focused classes, specifically the ‘Launch-Pad’ series: New Venture Discovery, New Venture Development and New Venture Launch. These courses are meant to accelerate your business plans/ideas, each course building upon each other. In general, Kellogg has a ton of entrepreneurial resources, and I am really looking forward to these opportunities as I explore my passions in this space!
What has been your first impression of the Kellogg MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Kellogg story so far. I grew up in the Midwest and I have been privileged that the Army has moved me all over the country. That being said, the Midwest is a special place – people here are genuinely warm, and I can think of no better place that exemplifies that than Kellogg. People here are truly authentic, empathetic people!
My best Kellogg story so far [hard to choose!] involves a MMM tradition during the summer event that I helped plan, a silly event that resembles a murder mystery dinner. We developed a loose storyline with basic roles – leaning heavily into improv for the event. My classmates did not disappoint! No one here takes themselves too seriously and the event was the highlight of my summer just because of how willing everyone was to embrace the silliness and fun.
I think one of the best parts of MMM is the small cohort that you grow really close to during the summe. In reality, you are part of a larger cohort of the 2Y program with equally amazing people – so really this is just the start of our Kellogg experience as we build lasting bonds between all of the programs that Kellogg has to offer.
What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? I may be completely biased, but Chicago is one of my favorite cities. There is so much diversity and culture, and with Chicago being one of the largest cities in America, there are endless opportunities to explore whatever industry you are looking for.
However, I think what sets Kellogg apart is Evanston. Evanston is the perfect distance from the city, allowing equal opportunities to enjoy a peaceful bike ride or run along Lake Michigan while also being able to spontaneously catch the train into the heart of the city. Truly a special place to be and learn.
Kellogg is known for a team-driven culture. What quality do you bring as a teammate and why will it be so important to the success of MBA class? I bring an ability to break down complex ideas or thoughts into layman’s terms – a super critical skill when interacting with so many students from many different cultures, backgrounds, and traditions. I have no problem asking clarifying questions and identifying our problem statement first. This helps the group avoid spending time developing solutions for the wrong problem and getting everyone singing on the same sheet of music.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment in my career was my previous role in the United States Army and my accomplishments in that role. I was tasked to stand up a strategy and innovation team in my organization where I was able to assess past performance, identify and communicate future requirements, and synthesize my findings into the present training cycle for teams getting ready for deployment. It was extremely rewarding because most of the time in the Army, you aren’t able to see the immediate impact of your work. With this role, I was helping shape and inform how we trained our teams, having immediate impact on missions and US strategies within the Middle East.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Right out of undergrad, I aspired to work in the military for a couple of years and then seek employment in the FBI soon after. With almost 10 years of military experience, married with 2 kids and 2 dogs, my goals started to drastically shift as I desired to be home more and have more impact in my local communities.
An MBA, especially one from such a great institution, allows me to make the pivot at this point in my career, helping me take my years of experience and apply them in meaningful ways in the private sector. I hope to pivot into tech as a Product Manager, interested in consumer products but open to exploring entrepreneurial opportunities that may present itself during my time at Kellogg.
What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? A favorite book I have recently reread is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. The book is a study, or examination rather, of successful people – something our culture is obsessed with (think like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). However, Gladwell suggests that instead of focusing on what highly successful people are like, one should consider where highly successful people come from – what is their background, culture, traditions?
For me, the book really made me introspectively look at myself and ask myself, what am I uniquely positioned in life to do, that only I can do it? I don’t want to copy what other highly successful people are doing, I want to find what I am good at and enjoy doing and navigate through life utilizing the things that make me different.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Columbia, Haas and Duke Fuqua.
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? Reach out to current students as soon as possible and often! Knowing who you are, where you want to go, and how to share this in a meaningful way with others are key to a successful business school application. By engaging with current students at Kellogg, you will really be able to get a sense of the heart and soul of what it means to be a Kellogg Leader, and people can help you shape your story so it’s clear to the admissions that you belong here!
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