2023 MBA To Watch: Leo Haigh, Georgia Tech (Scheller)

Leo Haigh

Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology

“Creative thinker who values communication and loves to take on complex challenges.”

Hometown: Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Fun fact about yourself: I once gave Bill Gates a tour of the UK Parliament.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Nottingham, Politics (BA Hons)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before joining the Scheller MBA program, I last worked for the UK’s largest technology company, Sage, as a government relations manager. I led several initiatives to engage the UK Government on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of SMBs that were customers of Sage. I also supported our Go-To-Market teams to advise our small business customers on how best to use Sage products.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I interned at American Airlines in Fort Worth, TX as a commercial strategy intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be returning to American Airlines as a commercial strategy analyst.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Host of the Intersection Podcast – I have the privilege of producing and hosting the Scheller College of Business podcast, known as The Intersection. The podcast is an excellent opportunity for me to bring to life the personal and career stories of my classmates, alumni, and faculty. Episodes I’ve produced have focused on topics including how to be successful in the MBA program, careers advice, and major business topics.
  • President of the Scheller Golf Committee – as President of Golf Committee, I lead Scheller’s efforts to create opportunities for classmates to learn golf and host events where classmates and alumni can network. This includes organizing the annual Scheller Classic, held at the iconic Atlanta golf club East Lake and is attended by 40 to 50 students and alumni every year. This year the committee was proud to launch a new inter-MBA golf competition with Emory, bringing together two Atlanta MBA programs for a brand-new tournament.
  • Vice President of Tech Club – Working with our club President and other committee members, I provide resources to help students pursue a career in technology and connect them to alumni working in the industry. This semester, I have been working with our Jones MBA Career Center to establish our new Atlanta Tech Trek, where we visit our technology company neighbors in Atlanta. Our inaugural Atlanta Tech Trek will take us to the offices of NCR, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Amex/Kabbage, where students will get to learn more about these businesses and their activities in Atlanta.
  • MBA Student Ambassador – I represent Scheller to interested applicants and help our admissions team in interviewing the next generation of Scheller MBAs.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The achievement that I’m most proud of during my time at business school is landing my dream role in commercial strategy at American Airlines. Starting the recruiting process for me was daunting, not just because I was in a new country, but also because I had come to b-school from a non-traditional background. My previous career experience was based around politics and communications, but I came to Scheller because I wanted to pursue roles where I had the opportunity to grapple with significant corporate challenges in a competitive industry where there is never a dull moment. I certainly found that through my summer internship, where I learned a huge deal and felt truly at home in the team at American. I’m very excited to return to American Airlines later this year for my full-time role.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The accomplishment I am most proud of is leading the creation of a growth plan for small businesses in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Shortly before I joined Sage as a government relations manager, the company produced a report showing that Newcastle, the location of our headquarters, lagged other UK cities in small business productivity. I resolved to create a plan to address this challenge and determined I would have a far greater chance of success with the local community behind me. I sold my company on my vision and convened a meeting with leading local businesses, industry groups, policymakers, and customers to enlist their support. There was great enthusiasm for the project and innovative ideas around data, digital adoption, and exports were suggested. From this feedback, I authored a draft framework and scheduled a further meeting to finalize recommendations. I invited the Mayor to attend, who hailed the initiative to bring this team together.

I subsequently pitched the plan directly to the Mayor and persuaded the city government of the need to approve of the recommendations. Subsequently, millions of pounds of funds have been unlocked for small businesses in the city, with thriving new partnerships launched to support digital and data skills of small businesses.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Scheller due to the genuine passion that current students and alumni display for the school. As someone who is an international student, prior to joining Scheller I did not have a significant personal or professional network in the United States. It was therefore really important to me to join a community that was sociable and that would continue to give back to current students. Throughout my time at Scheller, I have been amazed at how collaborative the working environment is, and I have easily learned as much from my classmates as my professors.

Beyond school itself, I have been lucky to be connected to a great number of alumni who I am proud to call my friends. I was told before joining Georgia Tech that the Scheller network extends far beyond Atlanta. I definitely experienced this myself during my summer internship, where I was able to connect with alumni in Dallas, Texas, and build my network there, so I will have some friendly faces when I move there for my full-time role later this year.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is the leader of our TI:GER program, Jonathan Giuliano. TI:GER stands for ‘Technology Innovation: Generating Economic Results’ and TI:GER students take courses over three semesters to really learn the core tenets of starting and scaling your own venture. During this time, we work on the business plan of launching our own start-up, before being paired with real life ventures to help them with the challenges facing their business.

Professor Giuliano is an excellent source of advice on all things regarding entrepreneurship. He has launched or co-founded several ventures himself, along with raising billions of dollars for start-ups on three different continents. He is incredibly well networked and takes any opportunity to connect his students where it will help them progress their MBA or business goals. Professor Giuliano’s experience means he is a great source of knowledge not just on the theory and principles of entrepreneurship, but also how to practically apply it. He continues to help alumni once they graduate if they need to be connected to start-ups or receive advice on growing their own venture.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course as an MBA has been our Core Strategy class. Not only was I able to benefit from learning the key strategic frameworks taught by our in-house strategy guru Frank T. Rothaermel and our excellent strategy professor Anne Fuller, I also had the opportunity to put our learnings directly into practice by being matched with real life companies and tasked with solving a business problem for them.

My team had the opportunity to work with Zillow, where we were given an intriguing challenge of helping them identify their next billion-dollar product. We enjoyed a great collaboration with Zillow and I very much enjoyed presenting our findings to several members of the Zillow team the end of the semester. The hands-on nature of the class helped me immensely in my preparation for my strategy summer internship.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event would have to be our fall tailgates, which are hosted each home football game by our MBA Athletics Committee. As someone who attended my undergraduate studies in the UK, tailgates were a new experience for me, but proved to be an excellent opportunity to deepen my passion for sports while getting to know current students and alumni better. Our football tailgates embody the open community at Scheller, bringing past and present students together to celebrate our school.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Play more golf! Although I’m president of the Scheller Golf Committee, I only started playing golf during the second semester of my MBA. I wish that I had carved out more time to get additional practise rounds in on the golf course, as then perhaps my game would be a little stronger for when I start my full-time job. That said, it has been a great way to connect with classmates. I’ve been hugely grateful for all the advice and support my classmates have given me to try get my game up to a passable level (it’s still a work in progress).

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that it is an engineering school. Georgia Tech is home to one of the best business schools in the country, and this particularly extends to our Jones MBA Career Center, which is consistently ranked in the top five in the nation. I’ve definitely learned a great deal from my engineering classmates, but MBAs at Scheller come from all different types of careers and backgrounds, which makes it such a special place to attend business school.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? The thing I love most about Atlanta is how green it is. We are really lucky at Scheller to be based in such a prime location in the city. Not only do we have some of the country’s most exciting tech companies headquarters right on our doorstep, but we are also located in very close proximity to Piedmont Park and Atlanta’s BeltLine. When the weather is good, there is no better place to be in Atlanta than the BeltLine, which is lined by excellent bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to hang out with friends.

What surprised you the most about business school? How quickly it goes by! It is true that you have to make the most of every moment, as before you know it, you’re in final semester and wrapping up your experience before going back to work.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Visiting campus and making sure that I spoke to current students. This is an excellent way to ensure that the business schools you are applying to are a good fit. I was lucky enough to visit several business schools, so I really knew that Scheller was the place for me. By having such a good feel for campus and the culture at Scheller, it made it much easier to tell my story in my application and articulate why Georgia Tech was top of my list.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire the most is my fellow international student and long-suffering Leeds United fan Yuval Safra. I am very grateful for all the support Yuval offers to his classmates despite his demanding schedule, where he not only runs Scheller’s Consulting Club, but also combines part-time roles as a TA in the business school and representing Scheller through our admissions team. Yuval has help scores of classmates preparing for consulting interviews by being our school case interview champion, leveraging his summer internship at Bain Consulting to offer great advice to those looking to break into the industry. He is also a former professional athlete and inspires myself and other classmates to tap into our inner resiliency by sharing lessons he learned through this experience.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I have always dreamed of working in the airline industry, so I am very excited to start my full-time role at American Airlines this summer. I would also like to start, or further develop, a mentorship program within my company to help underrepresented communities have better access to education and career opportunities.

What made Leo such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Leo Haigh joined the TI:GER program, which is 16 months from start to finish and the program brings together MBA students and PhD candidates in engineering, computing, and sciences. From the first class, Leo was an enthusiastic leader in the program. He was creative, collaborative, and resilient through numerous challenges that I posed to his cohort. He was conscientious, intelligent, and skillful in overcoming significant obstacles with innovation projects. His comments in class discussions were consistently insightful; he’s an effective communicator. As a problem solver and innovator, he excelled in his work with early-stage ventures in the Creative Destruction Lab. Leo was well-liked and well respected among his TI:GER colleagues. He cares about people. Leo’s achievements and contributions were evident not only in the TI:GER program but also in his activities: hosting the school’s podcast, leading the golf committee, serving as an officer of the Tech Club, and representing the business school as a student ambassador. I’m confident that Leo will continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people he manages and leads throughout his career.”

Jonathan Giuliano
Academic Lead, CDL-Atlanta
Executive Director and Academic Director, TI:GER

Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

“Leo was a delight to have in the classroom. When he contributed to our class discussions, I knew it was going to be an insight worth hearing and it was always delivered with charm and often humor. His experience in communications and upbringing in the UK provided a distinctive perspective adding greatly to the fine MBA cohort of 2023.”

Anne Fuller
Senior Lecturer
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business

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