Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Courtney Sloan, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Courtney Sloan

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“A bi-coastal tea enthusiast excited to embark on a Midwest adventure.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love tea! When I’m home, you can typically find me at home drinking a warm cup (yes, even in the summer!). I love mixing different teas and trying new flavors. Whenever I travel abroad, I always try to visit a local tea house. I enjoy learning about the culture of tea across different regions. I’m particularly interested in the ways that many cultures leverage tea not only as a social activity but also as a wellness practice.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pennsylvania – Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Head of Member Services at AboveBoard, a technology platform connecting diverse executives with job opportunities and career resources.

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? I was drawn to Kellogg’s leadership classes, specifically the number of renowned professors with deep expertise in organizational psychology and effective team management. Classes like “The Science and Strategy of Bias Reduction” and “Artifical Intelligence and the Future of Work” are interesting to me because they combine data and relevant social science frameworks to provide students with an effective toolkit to serve as a leader in our increasingly globalized, technology forward business environment.

I plan to use my time in business school to reflect on the type of leader I want to become. I hope to attain practical leadership skills that will allow me to successfully lead in today’s complex business environment. I feel that the leaders of the future will need several skills that stretch far beyond technical proficiency. So, it was important for me to find an institution that valued leadership development as much as the traditional MBA curriculum.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? I think Evanston is a great place to earn an MBA because it has a college town feel that promotes a sense of community and camaraderie with other Kellogg students. Every time you go to the grocery store or grab a coffee, you are likely to see a familiar face.  Plus, Chicago is very accessible from Evanston, so you truly get the best of both worlds.

I was also drawn to the Chicago area because it is situated in the middle of the country, so I’m able to meet interesting people from both coasts as well as internationally. I’ve already met some amazing classmates that come from the technology epicenter of San Francisco as well as the Financial Services hub of New York. I recently traveled to Malaysia with classmates from more than six countries (and our group was only 20 people!). I know this diversity will lead to a super enriching business school experience.

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? I value being a teammate who empowers and encourages others. I really like to help facilitate team discussion and encourage those around me to feel confident enough to share their ideas. This is important because Kellogg admits so many brilliant students and I feel we will be most successful as a class when every person feels empowered to share their perspectives, ideas, and experiences.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? In terms of courses, I’m eager to dive into the quantitative courses offered at Kellogg. I haven’t had much exposure to complex quantitative concepts in my career to date. I strive to be a well-rounded business leader who has proficiency across several functional areas. So, I’m super excited (and a little nervous!) to learn the basics of accounting and business finance.

In terms of fun, I can’t wait to participate in Kellogg’s Trolley Night. During this event, the whole class takes a trolley from Evanston to Chicago.  This event gives students the chance to celebrate and spend time with fellow classmates. I love an opportunity to participate in a quirky social event and Kellogg has a ton! It is a great aspect of Kellogg’s culture because people lean into all the class traditions and quirks of the social scene, I love that no one is taking themselves too seriously.

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. Kellogg students and alumni are so friendly. They care about getting to know you on a deep level. I think business school can be an intimidating environment because people tend to build relationships by asking questions about your career path, your educational background, and other surface level details that don’t encapsulate the full person that you are. But, I’ve already met so many people at Kellogg that want to get to know you outside of that.

I met a classmate during Kellogg’s admitted student weekend (DAK) in the Spring. We instantly connected because we complimented each other’s bright nail polish color. We started chatting about finding a nail salon in Evanston, growing up in California, and ultimately exchanged numbers. We’ve been in touch all summer and even walked to class together on the first day of school! It wasn’t until recently that we learned about each other’s work history and career aspirations. Our friendship blossomed because of our love of a good manicure and childhood memories in California. I think that’s a great example of people at Kellogg building relationships in ways that span beyond a few bullet points on your resume.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Early in my career, I worked at a firm called Heidrick & Struggles and I was a leader in the firm’s Professionals of Color Employee Resource Group (PoC ERG). I spent many hours building a strategic vision for the ERG, gaining buy-in from senior leadership, and communicating with other diverse employees to ensure the programming we planned was in alignment with the needs of the community.

During my time at the firm, the PoC ERG became a formalized source of support and connectivity for diverse employees at the firm. My efforts helped the ERG grow into a thriving community that boasted a slack channel of more than 200 members, comprised of both group members and allies. My favorite event was a virtual reality DEI workshop that attracted more than 150 participants across six offices nationwide.

My leadership within the PoC ERG left a lasting impact at the firm and taught me several lessons that continue to guide my professional endeavors. It empowered me to continue leveraging my skillset to serve as an advocate and strategist for building more inclusive corporate environments.

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience successful? My MBA experience will be successful if I accomplish three things: (1) acquire a proficiency in quantitative business concepts; (2) build lifelong friendships with my classmates; and (3) develop a practical leadership toolkit to ensure that I become the self-assured, compassionate visionary that I aspire to be.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Wharton, Stanford GSB, Berkeley Haas, University of Michigan – Ross, UCLA Anderson, Duke Fuqua

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? I have three pieces of advice for prospective students: complete the GMAT/GRE exam early, be prepared, and keep perspective.

The GMAT/GRE is the most challenging part of the process and it can be very disheartening. Get focused, build a study plan, and get the test finished as soon as you can. The next piece of advice is to be prepared. You should spend some time reflecting on your desired post-MBA career path and the leadership stories you want to tell the admissions committee. Keep a document that clearly articulates this information so it’s top of mind as you network with admissions officers and begin interviewing at different schools.

The most important piece of advice is to remember the value of your story and experiences. I’m a “non-traditional” MBA applicant, aka I’m not a former banker or consultant. Throughout the process, I found myself wondering whether I was the right “type” of business school applicant. I certainly was! But it can be easy to let the imposter syndrome win. So, I suggest surrounding yourself with a community of people to remind you of the value that you will bring to any program you attend. You’ve got this!


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