2022 MBA To Watch: Ingrid Zagzebski, University of Texas (McCombs)

Ingrid Zagzebski

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Wisconsin Cheesehead, Fitness Enthusiast, Fourth of July Fanatic, Puppy Momma, and All-time Auntie.”

Hometown: Weston, Wisconsin

Fun fact about yourself: I am a certified scuba diver.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Wisconsin, Madison – Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing and Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Flamingo (Resident Engagement App), Engagment and Growth Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I interned with Nike on their Consumer Direct Marketing Team. I was remote in Austin due to COVID.

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Strategy Consultant at Deloitte

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • The Graduate Entrepreneurship Club, President
  • Venture Fellows, VP of Placement
  • Graduate Women in Business, Tri-VP of Coporate Partnerships
  • Teaching Assistant for Strategic Career Planning Course taken by all 1st year MBA students (Selected by the MBA Career Management team)
  • 1st Place in National Black MBA Graduate Case Competition, Digital Retailing Strategy for Fiat Chrysler Automobile

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am so thankful to have been one of the 18 students selected to be part of the Venture Fellows Program. The program consists of a two-semester internship with a local VC or PE firm, and weekly guest speakers in the VC/PE community. I was never exposed to Venture Capital and honestly thought you had to have a background in finance or come from an investment banking role. I was able to lean on my background and strengths to assist my firm’s portfolio companies with their operations, sales, and marketing strategies. I am proud of myself for having the courage to try something completely out of my comfort zone. Having the opportunity to learn from the team at Brand Foundry has been a life changing experience. They’re incredibly supportive of women and recognize the importance of making the industry more diverse.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose McCombs for business school for a few reasons. I knew that I wanted to be at a school that was surrounded by a vibrant city and Austin checked all the boxes for me. Austin not only had a top-tier business school, but was a city filled with live music, aspiring entrepreneurs and all the outdoor activities. Austin is a city that I envisioned not only for business school, but to continue my career and hopefully raise a family one day. I also love the community of professors, students, and alumni. It was important to me to have a strong alumni network who wanted to “pay it forward” because somebody was kind enough to help them when needed.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is hard for me because I have had wonderful relationships with my professors. I would have to say my favorite MBA professor is Dr. Patrick Badolato, who teaches Financial Statement Analysis (FSA). Dr. B has a phenomenal presence in the classroom and integrates topical companies into his lectures like Peloton, Oatly, and Casper to name a few. Although I sometimes get overwhelmed with the financial jargon, we recently covered a topic on business strategy across industries, and I was able to apply my background in operations and marketing to participate in class and really understand the “why” behind certain financial metrics. Knowing how to dissect financial statements is also incredibly important for personal investing, and I feel confident that Dr. B has given me the tools I need to understand whether a company is a proven winner, or a smoke-and-mirrors narrative spun by the management team. Additionally, he has a strict “no laptop” policy in class which forces you to really pay attention and ask thoughtful questions.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? After our first year was disrupted by COVID, the tradition I was most excited for this fall was the return of McCombs’ legendary tailgates before a home football game. As a Wisconsin Badger and Packer fan—the tailgates absolutely lived up to the hype. 200+ MBA students gathered outside Rowling Hall wearing burnt orange and cowboy boots to cheer on the Longhorns is an incredible sight to see. Although the team always finds a way to break your heart down the stretch, I can’t wait to come back as an alum and do it all over again.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?

Looking back, I wish I would have taken more finance courses, specifically Ken Wiles’ class on private equity. My boyfriend and other friends always spoke very highly about Ken’s lectures, and I wish I had the opportunity to further refine my financial modeling skillset. Ken also brings in successful alums in private equity across various industries to give you a better idea of what the job entails and how the industry has evolved. Knowing your way around term sheets and understanding how different securities work in PE/VC is useful in some way to everybody at business school. Ken is incredibly passionate about equipping us with the tools necessary to be successful in the next stage of our careers. My biggest piece of advice to anyone getting their MBA, is to listen when your peers tell you that grades don’t “really” matter, and that it is more about the learning experience. Take classes outside of your comfort zone and use your MBA to learn about personal finances, tax law, diversity and inclusion, and whatever else you are interested in. Luckily, I was able to pursue an independent study with Ken this spring in my final semester at McCombs, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with him.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth is that many people still consider UT and McCombs as a “Texas” school that isn’t recognized as highly as other top-20 MBA programs. As a result, they would limit the types of top-tier companies that recruit from McCombs. I absoluetly understand this and had a similar view when I started in the program, but quickly realized it couldn’t be further from the truth. McCombs continues to create strong relationships with Nike, McKinsey, Amazon, and more-and-more students end up at these companies. I think the students at McCombs are very special and bring both the academic intensity, but also a collaborative mindset where people go out of their way to help one another.

What surprised you the most about business school? The thing that surprised me the most about business school was how tough the core semester was. The academic rigor of financial accounting and corporate finance, coupled with adjusting back to being a student after working for five years was really tough for me. I had to lean heavily on my cohort and study group to get through my first semester. Although it was very challenging, the professors went the extra mile to help you. I feel like in undergrad you are just another student in a large lecture room. As an MBA student, it is a more concentrated experience and each professor wants to share in your success. I would also say how fast the program goes has surprised me. I knew two years would fly by, but it really does.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I applied very late in the process during the 4th round cycle. I was at a start-up and didn’t know the future given COVID, so I used the pandemic as an opportunity to further my education and career. We had an option to do an admission video, and I think it gave me an edge to my application! I was able to articulate my passion for Austin, McCombs, and share more of my personality with the admissions team that can easily get lost in essays. At the end of the day, it is a two-way street – the school wants to make sure you are a fit with their offerings, and you want to make sure they are a fit with your professional and personal aspirations.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is my dear boyfriend, Jake Hulbert. We met during our first year in the program (Shoutout to Erika for making that happen) and he has become my best friend, my biggest supporter, and my life partner. After interning at Nike this summer, I decided to make a 360 pivot and interview for full-time roles in consulting. Since I never thought I wanted to pursue a career in consulting post business school, I never invested the time necessary to learn how to case, and Jake worked tirelessly to help get me up to speed. Although he is going into investment banking, he stayed in with me every Thursday for eight weeks straight to help me prep for each interview. He reviewed my cover letters, my resume, and did mock interviews with me weekly. Jake always pushes me outside my comfort zone and holds my hand until the very end. I am so thankful to have met such a beautiful human being during business school and my experience wouldn’t have been the same without him. He is also the most loyal friend and classmate. He stands up for what he believes in, works extremely hard, and is willing to go out of his way to make sure everyone feels supported.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My father influenced my decision to pursue business in college. He bought a cheese factory in my hometown of Weston, Wisconsin that was about to go bankrupt back in the ‘90s. He got his MBA from Notre Dame and has an entrepreneurial drive that has inspired me from day one. My father has always encouraged further education, and the importance of ascertaining the skillset needed to pursue new challenges and make an impact on the people around you. He’s my biggest role model and I hope to follow in his footsteps and have the opportunity to one day run a company of my own.

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

  1. To start a search fund – I never knew what a search fund was prior to business school, but I love the idea of buying and running a company. I am an enterpernuer at my core and being around my classmates who have turned their passions into a business has inspired me. Although I don’t have an “idea” of the type of business I would want to start just yet, a search fund is a great way to still own and operate a company.
  2. To work on a consulting project internationally – I love to travel and explore new parts of the world, and would be grateful for the opportunity to work with a client internationally to experience different cultural business practices.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has changed my perspective on corporate acceptance of flexibility. I always had a bad perception about the demanding travel associated with consulting, but COVID has transformed the modern-day workplace, giving employees more flexibility to work from home. Companies now recognize the importance of mental health and are going out of their way to prevent burnout at the junior level. For me personally, this means that I will have high expectations of my future employers and will expect there to be continued flexibility going forward.

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

“Ingrid Zagzebski has made a positive impression on faculty, peers and program team from day one for being a dedicated student, inspiring classmate and engaged community member!  According to one faculty member, “Ingrid is a rare and gifted MBA Student, and I am grateful to know her. Ingrid is very smart, and has the gift of strategic vision and the skill to manage a project timeline. She has an energy that encourages and inspires everyone she works with and is a pleasure to be around.”

As the President of the Graduate Entrepreneurship Club, VP for Venture Fellows, Teaching Assistant for the Career planning, Co-VP of Corporate Partnerships for Graduate Women in Business, Ingrid has found many ways to have impact on the McCombs community.

In the classroom, Ingrid helped foster a strong and inclusive environment for her peers. Marissa Epstein, who teaches our Nutrition Entrepreneurship course, shares that “Ingrid is a rare blend of creative and analytical thinker, and as a student, she asked questions in class discussion that built a stronger classroom environment while inspiring inclusivity and broad participation. She has a learning posture towards life which, I observed, invites a variety of perspectives into her thinking, and her resulting insights are compelling and pushed our academic environment forward.”

In an independent study with faculty member Ken Wiles, Ingrid developed a branding program for a new consumer company on par with national firms. According to Ken, “Every time I speak with her, I learn something new, and she inspires me to be better.”

Finally, according to Associate Dean and core Finance professor, Joe Hahn, “Ingrid Zagzebski personifies everything we look for in our Full-Time MBA students. As Associate Dean, I have been grateful to have her leadership, collegiality and uplifting spirit as positive impacts on the culture of our program. And, as her first-semester core finance class professor, I loved her contagious can-do attitude toward tackling a challenging course on a topic that was relatively new to her. I have no doubt that she will go on to accomplish great things after leaving here as a McCombs graduate!”

Ingrid worked strategically to make the most of her time at McCombs, digging into programs, leadership opportunities, and ways to give back to our community. Her hard work and commitment to excellence raised the bar for the rest of our community.”

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean and Program Director


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