2022 MBA To Watch: Nakia Lee, Indiana University (Kelley)

Nakia Lee

Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

“Detailed-oriented, dependable, recognizes opportunity and capitalizes on it.”

Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve never traveled outside of the United States. Some of my classmates convinced me to finally get a passport.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering, University of Arkansas

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Mechanical Operations Manager, BNSF Railway

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Supply Planning intern at Apple based out of Cupertino, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Advisor of Business Process Management at Dell Technologies

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium Internal Liaison
  • Vice President of Internal Affairs for Kelley Women in Business
  • Vice President of Internal Affairs for Black MBA Association
  • Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow
  • Forte Fellow
  • Mary A. Daily Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest academic achievement during business school is getting an “A” in core. The first semester of business school is hectic trying to balance academics, recruiting, and social activities. I’m proud that I was able to balance all those things and still do well in core.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  My proudest professional achievement is leading the site implementation for a quality control sampling process. I was responsible for the training and troubleshooting during the beginning stages of the process roll out. It was my first time leading a big project. We were able to exceed our target.

Why did you choose this business school? I choose Kelley due to the small class size and intimate nature of the program. I know I thrive in more intimate spaces. So, in making the jump to business school, I wanted to eliminate as many hurdles as possible. Kelley offered that along with a quality education.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Professor John Hill. He teaches tough classes about Quant and Spreadsheet Modeling but keeps you engaged and interested. He offered to help if we need any guidance during our internships. On top of all of that, he also tells dad jokes.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Kelley tradition is the Faculty Student Charity auction hosted by Kelley Women in Business. It always takes place at the end of the fall semester. It’s one of the biggest events of the year. It brings the faculty and students together. All the money goes to the local Boys and Girls Club. During my time at Kelley, we raised just under $20,000 each year.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing that I wish I would do differently during my MBA experience is interact with more people outside of my immediate circle of friends.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that Bloomington is a college town. It isn’t a myth though, but there’s always something going on so you will be able to find something to do. Bloomington is centrally located. It’s close to bigger cities such as Indianapolis, Louisville, Cincinnati, and Chicago.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school is the amount that you can accomplish in just two years. I feel like I have accomplished as much in these two years as I did in my four years as an undergraduate.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I embraced my nontraditional background. I didn’t try to appear to be the typical MBA candidate with a business background. I highlighted how I could add a different perspective to classroom discussions.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire most is Sennel Threlkeld. I admire Sennel’s determination. If he sets his mind to do something, you can guarantee that it’s going to be done. He’s not afraid to take risk and step outside of the box.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My friend, Jacarri, heavily influenced my decision to come back to school to get my MBA. He was the one who initially got me interested in considering an MBA and how it could help me reach my professional aspirations. He helped me realize that it wasn’t out of reach and encouraged me through the GMAT process.

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

  • I would like to at least have one role outside of the Supply Chain/Operations function.
  • I would like to lead a team at some point during my career.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has changed my view on where my work has to take place. I now prefer hybrid or remote work.

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

“Nakia has been an exceptional leader throughout her time at Kelley, going above-and-beyond to create initiatives that deepen student learning and increase connectedness in the Kelley student community. I first experienced Nakia’s leadership as she partnered with our Graduate Career Services team last summer to lead our Consortium OP Conference Preparation. Nakia took great care in matching each incoming student with a Kelley peer mentor, outlining guidelines for mentorship, and coaching and owning the communication and mentee training. She was innovative in creating a GroupMe to ensure just-in-time coaching guidance from our GCS team and our student mentees. Nakia tapped into the Kelley Alumni Network to create and moderate a virtual panel of alumni. This event was particularly effective in connecting students to our Kelley community, reinforcing confidence, and encouraging a dialogue at a time when summer conference logistics were undetermined due to the pandemic.

Nakia also partnered with our GCS office as a Kelley Black MBA Association Leader, ensuring students were prepared and ready for fall conferences and early recruiting. In a sense, Nakia kept a pulse on student career needs and partnered with our team in tailoring and creating programming that would serve those needs, even adapting approaches she experienced as an incoming MBA.

One such approach was the addition of group mock interviewing. During this Fall conference prep event, Nakia partnered with leadership of Prospanica, ROMBA, and Vet’s MBA Associations to create an inclusive and representative training for all populations. Approximately 70+ MBA students benefitted from our prep event. Nakia’s inclusive instincts ensured that all received training. Her innovation enabled our team to deliver excellent coaching and instruction in the largest Fall Conference Prep Event held to date. Additionally, our approach was virtual due to the Pandemic. Nakia moderated and utilized technology in a way that maximized student learning. She was a compass for students and our staff during a hybrid time of uncertainty. Nakia handles challenges with grace, flexibility, creativity, and professionalism.

On a personal note, I most appreciate the gentle honesty, wisdom, and vulnerability that Nakia brings to coaching. Her name is frequently spoken by our first-year students and her peers as a person of trust, good mentorship, heart, and leadership. Nakia Lee is an exceptional leader. A leader who will have incredible impact in this world, pushing for creative change and inspiring innovation. A leader representative of the Best and Brightest.

Thank you for your consideration of Nakia Lee, Kelley MBA Class of 2022. It has been a joy to share my experiences with you and moving to revisit the impact she has had in our full-time MBA Program at Kelley School of Business.”

Suzanne L. Fodor, PCC
Career Consultant – Graduate Career Services

IU Kelley School of Business


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