Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Zachary Queen, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Zachary Queen

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“Marine Corps veteran; Husband and father; Perennially disappointed Washington DC football fan.”

Hometown: Vienna/McLean, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I got stage one frostbite on eight toes during my first deployment to Norway while training above the Arctic Circle. It was almost worth it to see the Northern Lights (but not quite).

Undergraduate School and Major: Dartmouth College, Government Major

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Tactics Officer-in-Charge, The Basic School, United States Marine Corps Training Command

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? The truth is that you can get a great business education at plenty of top schools. But Kellogg is the right place if you’re looking for a transformational life experience. This is exemplified by the KWEST (Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips) experiences that nearly all first-year students participate in. From your first moment on campus, Kellogg deliberately structures events and programming to build a cohesive culture. Kellogg also has a uniquely collaborative culture, which manifests across all facets of student life – from classroom work to recruiting.

As somebody leaving eight years of service in the Marine Corps, I knew I wanted more than a school – I wanted a community. All my interactions with current students during the application process and my experiences on campus convinced me that Kellogg was the place to grow and evolve while maintaining a sense of camaraderie that defined my previous life.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? Kellogg’s location in Evanston truly is the best of both worlds – a short trip to a world-class city if you want it but secluded enough in a beautiful suburb to provide solitude. The city of Chicago – 30 minutes south of Evanston – offers unparalleled culture and opportunity, and at a far more reasonable price than competitor cities like New York or Los Angeles. The Kellogg Global Hub in Evanston offers a shorefront view of Lake Michigan and easy access to beaches, parks, and running trails. I was attracted by the proximity to both natural beauty and a vibrant international city.

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? Teamwork is at the core of Kellogg’s identity and why many choose the school! I bring two primary strengths to the table – a background working with diverse international teams and sound interpersonal communication skills.

In my previous career as a Marine Officer, I was lucky to work with foreign militaries across the world. I’m comfortable reading and adapting to different cultural contexts – a skill that hopefully adds value to any team I’m on. Second, I have some formal training in interpersonal communication. A couple of years ago, I participated in an incredible program called the “Better Arguments Project” – a civic initiative to bridge divides through improved communication techniques. During the program, I learned how to listen empathically, appreciate unspoken context, and communicate with an intent to understand. I think these skills, combined with my professional worldwide background, will add value to my teams at Kellogg.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? The irony is that there are so many incredible opportunities that the challenge is picking where to concentrate! I intend to be very involved with the Kellogg Veterans Association (KVA) to learn from the other veterans on campus and foster cohesion between veterans and non-veterans. From an academic perspective, I’m excited to take some classes with professors from Kellogg’s renowned Marketing department. Their masterclasses during our “Culture is Made” orientation were incredibly insightful. In a more lighthearted vein, I’m excited to watch Kellogg continue our dominance over Booth in the annual basketball game at United Center (where the Bulls play).

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. There’s a saying at Kellogg that somebody will always hold the door open for you when entering the Global Hub. While true, the more profound meaning connotes a willingness to help others selflessly. During the application process, I recall that Kellogg students were always willing to help me or answer questions – even during the height of recruiting season in the Fall. One veteran even practiced interviewing with me late into the evening despite his hectic schedule the next day.

My most pronounced Kellogg story thus far stems from an exercise called “Crucible Moments,” a crash course in courage and vulnerability where Learning Pod members share their most transformative moments in life. My group shared compelling stories and built a bond early in the year. This exercise is emblematic of Kellogg’s broader culture – we’re building lifelong connections.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my last three years in the Marine Corps, I was an instructor at the officer training school – The Basic School. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I was fortunate to work with incredibly talented people across the Marine Corps. To my amazement, I was selected as the 2022 Instructor of the Year for Marine Corps Training Command, comprised of 17 different schools and thousands of instructors.

Looking ahead two years, what would make your MBA experience successful? First, I want to remain a present and intentional father and husband. It can be difficult to balance the competing priorities of school and family, so I want to stay focused on what’s truly important. Second, I want to challenge myself intellectually. Given my background, focusing on leadership courses and other “safe” choices is tempting, but I want to participate in one class per quarter where I’m outside my comfort zone. Finally, I want to make lifelong friends I’ll remain close to.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Tuck, Fuqua, HBS, Darden.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? I have two specific recommendations. First, spend as much time as possible learning about the school by talking to current students and alumni. The best advice I got during the application process was to prioritize the school where you identified most closely with the people. For me, that was Kellogg. But the only way to know is to put yourself out there! If possible, visiting the school in person is also advantageous because it gives you a sense of the culture and energy beyond what you can gain from the website.

Second, focus on the essays. Kellogg thinks very hard about assembling a cohort of diverse, team-oriented people. Your unique value proposition comes out in the essays, and if you recycle essays from other schools, your best self probably won’t shine through.


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