Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Catherine Malloy, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Catherine Malloy

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Retail strategist with a passion for entrepreneurship and art history.”

Hometown: McLean, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: My apartment in New York was used as a filming location for a Netflix holiday show, Dash and Lily. After getting a knock on our door from a location scout, my building in the Lower East Side was quickly transformed from a historic tenement building to a festive winter wonderland for two days in the middle of September.

Undergraduate School and Major: Northwestern University, Economics Major and Art History Minor

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: The RealReal, Strategy & Operations Lead

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? When deciding on which program to attend, it was Kellogg’s innovative curriculum that stood apart for me. Kellogg places an emphasis on providing students with courses that encourage us to test and experiment with subtle skills that set business leaders apart, such as motivating teams, negotiation, and leveraging networks. This recently came to life in our “Leadership in Organizations” class with Professor Nordgren, where we re-enacted a negotiation between a Colombian tech startup and a Singaporean telecom provider to learn how to effectively build consensus. As someone with a background in Management Consulting, I felt confident in my ability to build a model or develop a strategy playbook prior to business school. However, I sometimes found myself struggling to build followership and motivate my team, so I’m particularly excited to build out these skills over the next few years.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? Kellogg is perfectly situated to take advantage of both the benefits that a big city like Chicago has to offer, while still having a small-town feel in Evanston. As an MBA student, having access to Chicago’s incredible restaurants, art scene, and distinct neighborhoods means that there’s always an abundance of options for how to spend our free time. In contrast, Evanston’s tight-knit feel means that Kellogg students can really get to know each other both inside the classroom and out in the community. I love knowing that I’m equally likely to see familiar Kellogg faces at a Cubs game and an Evanston coffee shop, and the camaraderie that comes with living within walking distance of my 600+ classmates is something that I haven’t taken for granted over the past few months.

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? My ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds has proven invaluable at Kellogg. In college, I studied Economics and Art History, and frequently found myself juggling projects with vastly different teammates across the two disciplines. This experience, coupled with my time at The RealReal (where I worked with professionals across every business unit), taught me how to bring people together in shared purpose, despite differences in background, experience, and ability. This has proven invaluable in our case-based classes, as case discussions are all about leveraging the diversity of people’s experiences to learn how to best examine and solve a business challenge.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? As a student with a strong interest in Entrepreneurship, I’m most excited about Kellogg’s New Venture series. The New Venture series is sequence of three courses where students ideate, incubate, and launch new ventures over the course of the academic year. Kellogg connects student founder teams with alumni mentors, industry experts, and investors to help students get their ventures off the ground, and I’m excited to fine tune my entrepreneurial skills throughout the series.

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. My first impression of Kellogg students is how open they are with one another. I think a story that best embodies this is my experience at a small group dinner. Small group dinners are a Kellogg tradition. Here, a diverse group of classmates come together to share a meal and connect about subjects ranging from career aspirations to favorite travel destinations. At this dinner, we connected over inflection points in our lives that challenged our existing worldviews and forced us to re-evaluate our decisions and values. Over the course of the meal, my classmates shared deeply personal stories about navigating difficult moments with family, coming into their identities, and how professional and personal relationships have shaped their values. Despite having only briefly met the other 8 guests before the meal, hearing their stories and seeing the level of investment and commitment that my classmates had to one another made us instantly connect. Now, I’m happy to call those 8 classmates close friends who I always chat with when I see them on campus.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One piece of work that I’m most proud of is my involvement work with our Trust and Estates business at The RealReal. When researching potential business expansion opportunities, I found that there was untapped population of potential clients looking for a service to help them in major life transitions. However, these clients were unfamiliar with the RealReal and our services. With this in mind, I closely collaborated with leaders from Sales, Finance, and Marketing to develop a growth strategy to expand into the Trust and Estates market through partnerships, market expansion, and workforce restructuring. As a result of these initiatives, our work grew the business unit 60% compared to the previous year and increased our market share in the industry. While these efforts helped the company on its journey towards profitability, this experience also revealed to me how creative thinking and adaptivity can unlock both a team’s and a business’s true potential. At Kellogg, I look forward to building upon these leadership skills both in and outside the classroom and collaborating with my classmates to unlock our full potential as future business leaders.

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience successful? To me, the hallmark of a successful two years at Kellogg is graduating with a strong community that I can lean on for support throughout my career. In speaking with multiple Kellogg alumni, many have mentioned how whenever they are at a crossroads in their career or need an outside perspective, the first people they reach out to are their classmates from Kellogg – even 20+ years after graduating. As someone interested in entrepreneurship, I know that the strength of the Kellogg network will prove invaluable when thinking about potentially launching my own venture. I’ve already seen the strength of the Kellogg network play out within my own Section, as we’ve carved out dedicated time each month to discuss our long-term career goals and identify tangible ways that we can help each other, whether that’s by connecting a section-mate with a former employer or bringing them up to speed on a certain industry. Given the level of investment I’ve seen from my classmates after just one month of class, I’m excited to see how the strength of our community grows over the next two years.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, The Wharton School, Columbia Business School

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? My biggest advice for Kellogg applicants is to be crystal clear about your “Why MBA and Why Kellogg” story. Kellogg’s admission process is designed to dig deep into your past experiences, your career goals, and your values. Being able to articulate how a Kellogg MBA ties into your overall career narrative can differentiate you from other candidates. In building my story, I mapped out pivotal inflection points in my career and personal journey to identify key themes in my professional narrative. I thought about how a Kellogg MBA could play into living out these values and passions in the future. I also leveraged relationship with colleagues who were Kellogg alumni to get a better understanding of the student experience and culture at Kellogg. Their guidance was invaluable as I crafted my applications and made my decision to come to Kellogg.


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