Veterans Day 2022: What It’s Like Being A Veteran At An Elite MBA Program

It has long been the case that at the top business schools in the United States, military veterans are an integral part of the makeup of full-time MBA programs.

In the top 25 programs, former members of the military generally make up 5% to 10% of any given cohort —  and B-schools are always eager to attract more. Scholarships and fellowships are plentiful, and veterans clubs and associations given prominence and support. The reason is simple: Because veterans bring unique work experience and outlook, different from, and complementary to, nonmilitary MBA candidates. Often they have performed difficult tasks under immense pressure, and developed skill sets that allow them to thrive in high-stress environments.

Admissions teams know that admitting candidates with military experience enhances the diversity — and the future success — of any MBA class.


Bernard Banks: Veterans benefit from Kellogg’s “focus on leadership and empathy.”

At Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, more than 1,000 veterans have used the school as a springboard to leadership roles in every industry. They are an essential part of the Kellogg team, says Bernard Banks, associate dean for leadership development and inclusion.

He should know: Before coming to Kellogg, Banks served as a brigadier general in the United States Army and led West Point’s Department of Behavioral Science and Leadership.

“Kellogg offers phenomenal cultural alignment for students who possess military experience,” Banks tells Poets&Quants. “Furthermore, the Kellogg Veterans’ Association provides best-in-class support for former (and current) military members throughout their MBA journey.

“Our veterans benefit from the strength of Kellogg’s curriculum and community, including the institution’s focus on leadership and empathy. The school’s proven ability to amplify veterans’ skills and attributes has fostered the successful transition of over 1,000 former military members into leadership roles spanning all sectors. Kellogg is a community that recognizes the value of what veterans bring to bear and it leverages their talents to the benefit of other students and future employers!”


Veterans Day in the United States is Friday, November 11. Poets&Quants does not wait for holidays or other special occasions to write about the contributions and experiences of veterans in business school: We publish those stories all year long (see here, here, and here for some recent examples).

But it’s also true that it’s especially important to acknowledge veterans and their experiences when more people are paying attention, which is why P&Q asked some of the Kellogg School’s current students with military experience — including those who served in other countries’ militaries — to share what the day means to them, how they’re involved in the veteran community, why they chose Kellogg for their post-service journey, and more. See their answers on the following pages.

Last year at this time, in writing about veterans at the elite M7 schools, we asked veterans and current MBA students to comment on why they believe veteran representation matters in MBA programs. Elle Taylor, a captain in the Army who graduated from the Kellogg MBA program this year, offered this insight:

“Most MBA students have never interacted with someone who has served in the Armed Forces, so veteran representation matters to bring unique perspectives to business schools,” Taylor said. “Veterans bring vast leadership experiences to MBA cohorts that revolve around adversity, high pressure decisions, and adaptability — all lessons that future business leaders will endeavor. While veterans typically do not have the technical background of those MBA students that specialized in finance or consulting prior, I have found that many veterans are fast learners and able to add value to quantitative class discussions within a short period of time.”

See the next pages for six profiles of Kellogg MBA student veterans.


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