Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ryan Mango, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Ryan Mango

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“I am passionate about solving unique problems, uplifting communities, and empowering those around me.” 

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Fun Fact About Yourself: I enjoy collecting & listening to vinyl records.

Undergraduate School and Major: Stanford University, Human Biology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Sergeant, U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program

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? Among other factors, I was drawn to Kellogg’s inclusive culture. As a former Sergeant in the U.S. Army and USA Wrestling National Team Member, many of my life endeavors have been anchored to the components of outcome-based team performance, in which culture plays a large role in determining success. In this way, Kellogg was a natural fit for me. Thus far, I am most impressed at the seemingly organic way in which Kellogg leverages its diverse environment to achieve inclusion on a global scale At one of my favorite event series, Hear My Story, I was able to hear other students share their truths with the Kellogg community and create connections grounded in awareness and empathy. From flash mobs in Gies Plaza in celebration of Nigerian Independence Day to small group dinners and lunches with professors – every individual at Kellogg is empowered to both share their culture and embrace others.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? I am most excited for the opportunity to apply to be a Golub Capital Board Fellow. Each year a selection of Kellogg students is afforded the opportunity to spend 18 months contributing to a local nonprofit as an active board member and completing relevant coursework in addition to their MBA curriculum. Board Fellows offers an exciting opportunity to immediately apply the skills you learn in this program and see personal growth over its duration by continuing to improve an organization’s ability to better uplift their community.

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. The Kellogg students and alumni that I have met so far have all been genuinely interested in getting to know me beyond the surface level. The best part about this has been the opportunity to really engage in both small and large group settings via during small group dinners, coffee chats, and other larger events. Additionally, it has been nice to connect with other veterans and alumni through the Kellogg Veterans Association (KVA). The level of support – academically, professionally and socially – has been invaluable in my transition from the military to Kellogg. One of my favorite experiences so far was as sit-down conversation with Dean Bernie Banks, formerly a Brigadier General in the US Army. A testament to Kellogg’s culture, everyone is willing to and wants to invest in relationships.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? Chicago offers an ideal mix of urban and suburban environments, both inclusive of a vast number of professional and social activities. This was important choosing an MBA program for my wife and I because we wanted to be in an environment that provided room for professional growth alongside opportunities to meaningfully engage and different cultures and communities.

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? The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently. As a leader in the Armed Forces, your perspective of leadership is heightened as you become, quite literally, responsible for the health and well-being of your team. Having had the opportunity to lead soldiers from all walks of life was both challenging and rewarding, teaching me how to approach tough conversations while remaining empathetic as well as how to lead from a place of humility. Effective communication is a critical component to business success and leadership.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment of my career so far has been my ability to stay connected to my personal values throughout my journey. Specifically, I am proud of the way I have engaged communities through nonprofit work, volunteering, and mentoring. I realize that I have many mentors to thank for supporting me in my journey and I want to do the same for others. The ongoing nature of this accomplishment speaks to the activity I want to do well – be an impactful, thoughtful leader.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? After 8 years of competition and professional growth as a Soldier-athlete, I am now changing paths and Kellogg is helping me achieve that change. Currently, I am interested in Brand Management roles in the CPG and Retail industries. Now, as a career switcher with experience as an Olympic level athlete and leader in the US Army, I am interested in Brand Management roles in the CPG and Retail industries. I am passionate about leaning on my experience to help consumers experience brands and platforms in a way that empowers them to speak their truths and also represents their culture and beliefs.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? If you like sports, the Netflix short series on AND1 is an interesting business case if you approach it through a marketing lens. Otherwise, I would suggest starting to think about the things that interest you and products you love using on the day-to-day basis and think about how that product or service got to you. If you are eager to learn more, this is a good place to do further research.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UCLA Anderson, Chicago Booth, CBS, Duke Fuqua

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? Be yourself. Throughout the process, continue to use examples that illustrate your ability to be a leader who inspires change and prioritizes team success; however, ensure these illustrations also bring to light your core values.


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