Meet UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class Of 2024

Consortium students convene in front of the McColl Building.


The Healthcare concentration ranks among Kenan-Flagler’s marquee attractions. The school offers several dual degree programs, ranging from Dentistry to Public Health. The school maintains a Center for Business of Health (CBOH), which sponsors mentorship, research, internships, and access to experts. What’s more, Kenan-Flagler hosts the UNC Business of Healthcare Conference and the UNC Healthcare Case Competition, two of the largest student events in the field. However, it was the school’s diverse healthcare-related electives that appealed to Alexis Flen.

“The breadth of course choices enable students to explore various dimensions of healthcare ranging from medical entrepreneurship to international immersion electives.”

Alongside Healthcare, Real Estate is another Kenan-Flagler specialty. One of the nation’s largest graduate programs of its kind, the Real Estate concentration features several courses providing hands-on experience to MBAs, including a capstone development project. The programming also includes a student-managed private equity fund and individual career coaching. In addition, the Kenan-Flagler alumni network is robust, boasting 2,200 members across the world.

For Aidan McConnell, the Real Estate concentration, coupled with Carolina culture, brought together the best of two worlds. “I was immediately drawn to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s core values of integrity, inclusion, innovation and impact. These values, applied through a real estate lens, help me remain humble and conscientious about the role I can serve in an increasingly fractious environment, where issues such as gentrification, displacement and housing shortages have become fault lines that can only be resolved through an empathetic, people-first approach. I look forward to growing this mindset as a part of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s real estate community, whether I am participating in the Leonard Wood Center for Real Estate Studies’ peer-to-peer and Executives in Residence mentorship programs; broadening my horizons with a Global Immersion Elective that provides international and cross-cultural perspectives on development; or working on a capstone project with potential real-world impacts.”

MBA students attend an orientation class session.


The Healthcare and Real Estate concentrations are just two in-house benefits. For nearly 20 years, Kenan-Flagler has also run a regaled leadership training program, STAR (Student Teams Achieving Results). A learn-by-doing program, STAR pairs MBAs and undergraduates together on projects for clients like Procter & Gamble and NASCAR. In essence, student teams operate like consultants, as they learn to build relationships as much as frameworks. In the process, they hone their research, data analysis, and problem-solving skills to better prepare themselves for future roles in consulting and beyond.

“The balance between academics and real-world experiences immediately attracted me to UNC Kenan-Flagler,” adds Carlos L. Pérez-De La Rosa. “I’m particularly excited to test my knowledge and skills during the STAR Program by providing innovative, effective, and sustainable recommendations for corporate partners in a real-world setting.”

Off campus, you’ll find an added benefit: The Research Triangle Park just a half hour drive away. Covering 7,000 acres, RTP is the largest R&D cluster of its kind, home to 300 companies and 55,000 employees. It is a mix of R&D centers, corporate offices, and startups. It is headlined by Cisco and GlaxoSmithKline – whose operations account for nearly a fifth of the employees. It is also a hub for nearly every innovation imaginable: FinTech, Quantum Computing, Life Sciences, Aerospace, Cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence. Kenan-Flagler’s proximity to the park has enabled it to forge partnerships and build alumni networks where MBAs can gain access to cutting edge companies and practices.

“We have deep, multi-faceted relationships with these firms – from their hiring of interns and graduates – to tapping their expertise as career mentors, speakers in classes and at conferences.,” explains Brad Staats, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Academics, in a 2021 interview with P&Q. “We are [also] fostering strategic relationships with other organizations in the Research Triangle, including Chambers of Commerce (Raleigh Chamber, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Chamber for a Greater Chapel Hill – Carrboro) and trade associations (NC Tech Association) whose memberships are comprised of some of the area’s most exciting established and emerging companies that are hungry for young professional talent.”

In September, the news hit that Doug Shackelford, who had been the Kenan-Flagler dean since 2014, had decided to step down. Most recently, Shackelford shepherded the Campaign for Carolina to topping its $400 million dollar goal, with some of the dollars being used to support additional research and scholarship (as well as help build the Stephen D. Bell Hall. In the interim, the school has tapped Jennifer Conrad to serve as dean until a full-time replacement can be found.


That’s not the only news coming out of Chapel Hill. This summer, P&Q reached to two members of Kenan-Flagler to learn to learn what is on tap for the coming year: Brad Staats, Senior Associate Dean for Strategy and Academics, and Danielle Richie, Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions and Student Recruitment. In this Q&A, Staats and Richie look ahead to the future of the program, along with review some of the key parts of the Kenan-Flagler MBA experience.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program in the past year and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

University of North Carolina’s Brad Staats. Courtesy photo

Staats:Business Foundations

We replaced our in-person pre-MBA Analytical Skills Workshop – previously held on campus before orientation and before classes start – with the dynamic, new asynchronous Business Foundations program, which went live to all admitted Full-Time MBA students on May 1.

It is designed to alleviate any differential academic preparedness and ensure students feel confident on day one of their classes. They refresh their knowledge of or learn about analytical tools and business statistics, financial accounting and finance.

It is a unique offering relative to our peer schools. By making it available at no cost to students and fully asynchronous, we aim to ensure the program is both equitable for all admitted students – removing barriers such as cost, time and convenience, and proximity to Chapel Hill – and making it possible for them to learn the materials at their own pace.

They no longer have to leave their jobs any sooner than they want to attend the program in person – they can learn the materials when and where they choose – and still be ready to hit the ground running – analytical tools and business statistics, financial accounting and finance skills – when classes start.


We developed a new academic model – we are calling it “academies” – to support students’ journey from applicants to students to alumni.

They encompass most educational aspects of the full-time MBA student experience: academics, targeted career and leadership preparation, employer engagement, extracurricular and co-curricular offerings, and alumni engagement.

We launched the new approach to enhance students’ experience from the start of their relationship with UNC Kenan-Flagler and continue throughout their careers.

We have launched this approach with our Healthcare and Real Estate programs, and will explore the model with more areas in the future.”

P&Q: If you were giving a campus tour, what is the first place you’d take an MBA applicant? Why is that so important to the MBA experience?

Danielle Richie

Richie: “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the U.S., and McCorkle Place is an iconic spot on campus. It is home to the Old Well and the Davie Poplar tree and is near the Morehead Planetarium and Franklin Street.

This location has so much to tell that it deserves a stop by every MBA candidate visiting campus to be inspired by the UNC’s history and learn about where we started but also see how much we have grown. This can be very relatable for an MBA student to experience because of how transformative the program is for them both personally and professionally.

The Old Well (which is depicted in our logo) it has a special traditions. Students line up on the first day of class to take a drink from the original source of water on campus. The reason? Legend has it that if you drink from the Old Well, you will get a 4.0 GPA that year.Across from the Old Well is the first building on campus and home to the UNC Chancellor.

The Davie Poplar tree was selected specifically for the campus by one of the University founders. Legend has it that as long as the tree stands, so will the University.

Morehead Planetarium was the first planetarium in the south and was a NASA training facility from 1960-1975.”

P&Q: What is the most innovative thing you have introduced into the MBA program in recent years? How has it been a game changer for your program?

Staats: “We revamped the kick-off experiences for our new students when they first start the program in consideration of developing specific knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their studies and are in high demand by employers.

* Students take the “Leading and Managing” core course at the start of the year and report what they learn provides tremendous value for their time here and for their careers after graduation.

* Our relatively new “Inclusive Leadership” course, which is required, was taught this year by civility expert and PhD grad Christine Porath.

* “Structured Problem Solving” led by Alex Dickey, an alum and consultant, teaches students how to addressing a new problem using a consulting skills and framework approach – useful skills no matter the students’ career paths.

Next Page: Profiles of 12 Members of the Class of 2024

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