Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Caleb Makonnen, University of Texas (McCombs)

Caleb Makonnen

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Curious, creative, always looking to uplift and develop.”

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a musician and producer in my spare time.

Undergraduate School and Major: Texas A&M University – BBA, Supply Chain Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Logistics Manager, Americas at Agilent Technologies

What makes Austin such a great place to earn an MBA? The city has been rapidly growing for years which has prompted several companies to relocate or open offices in the Austin metro. This means several opportunities for internships and post-MBA careers. The city is also exceptionally friendly which bleeds into the campus environment.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Texas McCombs’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? A key part of the programming that drew me to McCombs was the McCombs+ project. McCombs+ is a micro-consulting project that allows a team of students to tackle an actual business problem at a real company during the semester. Since I planned on pivoting to a new function, the McCombs+ project seemed like the perfect way to get some hands-on experience and tangible skills in the industry and role I was interested in. It is also a great way to apply what you are learning in class directly to real-world situations.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Texas McCombs? One of the things that excites me the most at McCombs is the opportunity of joining the McCombs Ambassador Committee (MAC). MAC is a select group that interacts with prospective students on campus in order to give them insights into the program and admissions process. I look forward to helping prospective students develop their confidence towards pursuing an MBA at UT. By providing guidance to each student that I engage with, I will make sure they recognize their talents and aspirations.

What has been your first impression of the McCombs MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best McCombs story so far. From the admitted student weekend to orientation, the warm and down-to-earth nature of the students and alumni I interacted with was nothing short of amazing. After several interactions and activities at orientation prior to the program, I truly felt more connected with my classmates going into classes than I thought I would. One of my favorite parts of orientation was the storytelling session, where we split into small groups and shared deeply personal stories with one another. Getting to know students beyond my surface level perception of them was wonderful and allowed for our class to bond much faster.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Early in my career, I saved my company millions of dollars by developing a tool that provided one of our poorest performing facilities the ability to track and manage inventory in a data-driven way. The tool maximized cost-savings by identifying and prioritizing areas that needed attention, minimizing the risk of incurring unnecessary cost. The tool promoted seamless sharing of information between different cross-functional teams, which placed us in a better position to address inventory issues in the most efficient way possible without dealing with issues related to silos and isolated processes.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I watched a YouTube channel called Career Protocol that did a really good job of highlighting different aspects of the admissions process at top business schools. I also subscribed to a newsletter called Morning Brew that provides a daily summary of the business news landscape in a very concise and approachable way. Having a general idea of current business topics and news is actually very helpful in several classes during the MBA. 

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Texas McCombs’ MBA program? Start the application process as early as you can and participate in admission sponsored events.

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