Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Hays Bynum, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Hays Bynum

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Healthcare enthusiast bringing people together through storytelling and cheese boards.”

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I sold the second-most Girl Scout cookies in the state of Georgia in the 2nd grade—my cookie sales filled an entire U-Haul truck. Distribution was a nightmare as I couldn’t drive, and my parents were unwitting warehouse managers.

Undergraduate School and Major: Vanderbilt University, Public Policy and Medicine, Health, and Society

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Kx Advisors, Senior Consultant

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? The caliber of Kellogg’s professors and the breadth of classes on leadership development ultimately sold me on Kellogg. When I came to Day at Kellogg (Kellogg’s Admitted Students’ Weekend), many of the top professors, including Suzanne Muchin and Harry Kraemer, led Master Classes that blew me away. I called my parents from the Chicago airport on the way home and was telling them that I wanted to buy the books those professors had written, when they asked “Why wouldn’t you just go to Kellogg and sit in their classes instead?” In that moment it really clicked that Kellogg was where I needed to be.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? I am really excited to get involved with the Charity Auction Ball (CAB), which is a gala Kellogg students put on every spring to raise money for local charities of the student body’s choosing. The event primarily auctions off experiences donated by students, faculty, alumni, or the broader Chicago community, such as getting your nails done with Dean Cornelli or taking a cooking class from international students. While living in DC prior to Kellogg, I helped Children’s National Hospital plan its annual gala for young professionals, so I am excited that I will have a similar opportunity while at Kellogg to give back and raise awareness for local charities while also working with a great group of people.

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. Engaged! At Kellogg, there is always something going on. Kellogg has done an amazing job of making it easy to step outside of your comfort zone and have experiences that you wouldn’t normally have. That’s because all of our student-planned events are posted on Slack so that anyone can join. Beyond that, it’s amazing how welcoming the students are and how excited they are to engage with and learn from students who are different from themselves.

My favorite story to demonstrate this is a dinner that I recently attended that was put on by students from Korea. When I saw the posting in Slack for a weeknight dinner featuring Korean BBQ, fried chicken, and soju, I knew I wanted to go. I didn’t know anyone else who had signed up, but when I walked in I saw a classmate from my accounting class standing in line for food. She welcomed me into her group and we had the best time eating our dinner in a circle on the floor. We even shared about our favorite foods from home and laughed about how the soju that was served at dinner is really only something college students drink. I left the dinner with eight new friends, a better understanding of a culture that I previously knew little about, and a smile on my face because it feels like every time I meet someone new from the Kellogg community, they are just as kind and vibrant as the last.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? Kellogg students get the best of both worlds between Evanston and Chicago. Chicago offers a world-class food scene, major sports teams, venues that attract major performers, and two major airports that can take you anywhere in the world. Evanston, on the other hand, offers the small, college town feel that serves as a retreat away from the faster paced city. I love that Kellogg students are able to take advantage of both by going into the city on weekends for Cub games or to try hot restaurants. At the same time, I get to bump into friends unexpectedly at the grocery store or on the walk home while in Evanston during the week.

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? Encouragement and positivity. I am the biggest cheerleader on my teams. I am passionate about making sure every voice gets heard and cultivating team unity to produce the best product and best experience possible. Typically, I take on the role of synthesizing the overall direction of the group to resolve disagreements and keep the project moving forward, while also keeping the team motivated and engaged. Because Kellogg students come from a range of professional and cultural backgrounds – and are balancing competing priorities and commitment – I have already been able to apply this skill to bring my classmates together and draw out their unique perspectives and experiences.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am most proud of a project I did during my time at Kx Advisors for a medical device manufacturer. My client manufactured a medical device for a non-invasive procedure that was safer and had better outcomes than the surgical alternative. However, many qualified patients were still receiving the higher risk procedure. My team was tasked with interviewing physicians to understand why they referred patients for surgery rather than the non-invasive procedure given the data. Through this work, we surfaced many misconceptions about the non-invasive procedure or structural barriers that prevented physicians from recommending it. For example, some rural physicians knew the merits of the non-invasive procedure. However, they did not know anyone who could perform it, so defaulted to surgery. After identifying barriers to referral, my team proposed physician marketing and patient education strategies to reach 1.2 million patients who otherwise would likely receive surgery. This achievement stands out because I was able to use my business skills to improve outcomes for patients in healthcare, while also helping my clients reach more of the market.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I knew since undergrad that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but it took me a long time figuring out what that degree would be. After working in life science consulting for 3.5 years, I felt confident that I had found a passion that would interest and excite me over the course of my career. I am planning to use my MBA to pivot from consulting into a general management or marketing role at a pharmaceutical or medical device company.

Beyond pursuing my MBA to facilitate a career pivot, I am using this experience to grow into a better leader so I can gain the skills and resources to better support other women in their professional journeys. My mom’s career in banking served as a great inspiration to me and allowed me to set my sights high professionally, but I know many women in my generation did not have female role models in business so readily available. With my degree, I will not only be positioned to become a role model for other women in business, but will also have a platform to foster and celebrate the success of other women in business.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I found the Stacy Blackman podcast “B-Schooled” invaluable while preparing my application for business school. The podcast covered topics such as “How to make your resume stand out” in a lot of detail and specificity that I was able to directly apply. The hosts also interviewed admissions officers about what their program looks for in candidates, which positioned me to tailor my materials to align with each school’s target applicant.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Booth, Fuqua, Sloan, Tuck

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? Kellogg is all about high-impact, low-ego leaders. In your application, interviews, and any other interactions with members of the Kellogg community, be able to speak to your impact but beware of coming across as self-important. Knowing how to show off your achievements without being a show-off can be tricky. Practice describing your accomplishments with people who will give you honest feedback, and who can gut check whether you’re accurately depicting your contribution, such as close friends, family, and coworkers.


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