2023 MBA To Watch: Kasey Kram, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Kasey Kram

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business

 “A loving father and husband with a passion for spontaneous conversations and adventures.”

Hometown: Weimar, Texas

Fun fact about yourself: I won a full-size cattle trailer as a prize for a high school academic contest.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Texas A&M University Dual Degree in Agricultural Business / Agricultural Leadership & Development.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Deloitte Consulting – Senior Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte Consulting – Senior Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Organization for Autism Research, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Vice Chairman Commercial Steer Committee, MBA Vice President of Family Life, MBA First Year Class Representative, MBA Graduate Week Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I ran the Chicago Marathon alongside six other MBA classmates, and together we raised over $10,000 for the Organization for Autism Research. Despite not having run more than ten miles in the past two years, the accountability and support from my classmates helped me achieve a bucket list goal while also making a positive impact for a charitable cause.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my first consulting project, I was tasked with helping a non-profit organization to improve the delivery speed of handwritten letters to beneficiaries and sponsors. With our solution, we were able to reduce the delivery time from several weeks to just a few days, making a significant improvement. This enabled more regular communication between the organization and its beneficiaries. It was incredibly rewarding to see the tangible benefits of our work. The smiles on the faces of the staff members when they recognized the improved speed of delivery is something that I will never forget.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Mendoza because of the close-knit, family-style of learning, and the caring attitude that the professors have towards each cohort. The professors genuinely want to engage with students outside of the classroom and care about our development as both business individuals and human beings. They encourage one-on-one conversations and follow up with the latest research or news articles related to the topics we have covered. This level of caring and commitment is what drew me to choose Mendoza, and I am grateful for the enriching experience it has provided.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jeffrey Bacidore, who taught Machine Learning and Advanced Machine Learning, possesses an impressive level of expertise in the subject matter and could provide countless examples of how machine learning can be applied in various facets of the business world. He made a complex subject fun and relatable by veering from the course slides and engaging us in conversations about current real-world applications of neural networks or even how ChatGPT works. The classes were engaging and passed quickly because of Jeff’s ability to leverage his recent experiences into actionable lessons that he shared with us. I deeply appreciated the valuable content I learned in class, and I have continued to keep up with machine learning solutions and topics of interest since taking his class.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite class during my MBA program was Judgement, and there are three main reasons why. First, it was a smaller class with a roundtable format that encouraged active debates and discussions between my classmates, the professor, and various industry leaders who were invited as guest speakers. Second, the class structure and teaching style were unique. We were given four cases that presented one side of a decision, and we had to work our way backward to analyze all the assumptions and scenarios that led to that judgment. We then presented our findings to the class, followed by a discussion with the company leader who had made the actual decision. This approach allowed us to learn in real-time and see if our thought process was accurate or missing critical pieces. Lastly, I enjoyed this class because it challenged us to think beyond traditional methods of making judgements and to ask the tough questions that need to be answered.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I take pride in the fact that my MBA cohort initiated the Grow the Good Gala, an event that brings together MBA and other graduate students to raise funds for local non-profit organizations in the South Bend area. This new tradition aligns perfectly with the Mendoza motto, Grow the Good in Business, and the first year of the event raised tens of thousands of dollars for local organizations. The Grow the Good Gala truly represents the service-oriented and compassionate nature of what it means to be an MBA student at Mendoza.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Notre Dame is a renowned institution that hosts an array of top-notch speaker series and events. Looking back, I regret not taking fuller advantage of the speakers outside of the business school to learn about trending issues that affect other fields of study. In particular, the Ten Year Hence events held by Notre Dame would have been immensely beneficial, as they provided an opportunity to absorb knowledge from some of the world’s brightest minds.

What is the biggest myth about your school? In my opinion, the most significant misconception about Notre Dame is the belief that all students must be Catholic. While the university’s values are indeed rooted in Catholicism and Christianity, it is not mandatory for every student to follow the faith. In fact, having a diverse student body with varying beliefs and perspectives fosters engaging and challenging debates. I have had the opportunity to speak with classmates who take courses on spirituality in leadership, and it has been fascinating to hear their diverse religious and philosophical viewpoints. Notre Dame is a welcoming community that embraces people from all walks of life, regardless of their religious affiliation or beliefs.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Every time I walk around the various South Bend parks or festivals, I am struck by the sense of pride and dedication that the community has towards this city. Whether it’s through supporting local businesses or volunteering at community events, South Bend residents work hard to make their city a better place for everyone. This dedication to their community is what makes South Bend not only a great place to live, but also a wonderful place to visit.

What surprised you the most about business school? My classmates’ depth of knowledge is remarkable, stemming from their professional experiences, academic backgrounds, and personal passions. Each individual offers a unique perspective, and the resulting discussions in the classroom are always lively. Outside of class, conversations spill over into casual settings like coffee chats and lunch-and-learn sessions, where their enthusiasm for various topics is evident. What’s more, the atmosphere is refreshingly open, with no topic off limits. The ability to have honest and frank conversations has been a welcome change of pace.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I connected with past MBA graduates from the program. Setting up meetings with them allowed me to learn more about the day-to-day life of an MBA student at Mendoza. Armed with this knowledge, I was better equipped to tailor my application packet to showcase my alignment with the school’s values and goals.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Maxwell Von Hollebeke is always pushing himself and challenging the status quo. Whether it’s solo climbing Mount Rainier or signing up for an Ironman without ever having done a triathlon, Max embodies curiosity and a thirst for adventure. His remarkable talent for igniting excitement is evident in the energy he brings to any room he enters. I am constantly impressed by his genuine authenticity in all his interactions, and I aspire to emulate his passion for trying new things and connecting with people.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I have two major goals on my professional bucket list. First, I want to contribute to the development of a comprehensive community of practice and service offerings catering to agricultural clients. I am passionate about promoting the transformation of food production and supply chains to meet the needs of an ever-growing population. I aspire to assist companies in navigating this transformative journey. Second, I dream of starting my own Wagyu beef cattle herd in central Texas and creating a farm-to-table supply chain that serves restaurants and stores in the Houston-to-Austin region.

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

“It is a pleasure to write this letter of recommendation for Kasey Kram. Over the last two years years that I have known Kasey, he has displayed first rate intellect and creativity in problem solving, maturity and leadership among his colleagues, and the character and commitment to his teams that made him such an invaluable addition to the Mendoza College of Business MBA Class of 2023.

To start, Kasey presents a truly unique combination of talents: creativity and pragmatism, leadership among his peers, and commitment to getting to the solution despite difficulties. As a retired former partner of McKinsey & Company, I can spot talent. I taught Kasey in two MBA courses at the University of Notre Dame. The first MBA class is a rigorous problem solving one using client cases from my own ten years of experience. Its emphasis is around diagnosing the problem from multiple symptoms, disaggregating the problem into issues, and then driving to practical solutions. Kasey thrived in such an environment. His team’s solutions to a range of problems involving product launch, market entry, game theory and microeconomic revealed tenacity in data gathering, subtle understanding of the main issues, and creativity in driving to solutions.

In addition to possessing a first-rate mind, Kasey is also a natural leader. He acts like a catalyst, though, bringing the best out of his teammates. From my observation, he accomplishes this in two ways: first, by asking insightful questions; and second, by patiently listening to his teammates to get to good ideas. His team developed stronger answers as the term progressed, as Kasey took over its Leadership.

Further, Kasey also excelled in my Judgment class. Kasey has the stamina needed to wrestle down even the toughest problems. Kasey not only lead his team in market assessment, competitor profiling, and an analysis of the company’s capabilities in order to judge what sort of solution they could indeed implement, but he also interacted with the senior executive from the company in a professional manner. Kasey was even so thoughtful as to create a unique thank-you gift for the executive for spending time in our class.

Indeed, these characteristics of creativity, problem solving, and leadership will enable Kasey to succeed in the most demanding of business environments after Graduation.”

Dr. Viva Ona Bartkus
Paul E. Purcell Associate Professor of Management
Founder & Faculty Director, Meyer Business on the Frontlines Program
Mendoza College of Business

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