Harvard | Mr. Consulting To Emerging Markets Banking
GRE 130, GPA 3.6 equivalent
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Biz Human Rights
GRE 710, GPA 8/10
Darden | Mr. Program Manager
GRE 324, GPA 3.74
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Greek Taverna
GMAT 730, GPA 7.03/10
Harvard | Ms. Biotech Ops
GMAT 770, GPA 3.53
NYU Stern | Mr. Development
GMAT 690, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Energy Operations
GRE 330, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 To Healthcare Reformer
GRE 338, GPA 4.0 (1st Class Honours - UK - Deans List)
Wharton | Mr. Steelmaker To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.04/4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Overrepresented Indian Engineer
GMAT 740, GPA 8.78/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Indian Quant
GMAT 745, GPA 9.6 out of 10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Food & Education Entrepreneur
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Standard Military
GMAT 700, GPA 3.74
Harvard | Ms. Gay Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. International Oil
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Lieutenant To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Tuck | Mr. Infantry Officer To MBA
GRE 314, GPA 3.4
Rice Business | Mr. Future Energy Consultant
GRE Received a GRE Waiver, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Campaigns To Business
GMAT 750, GPA 3.19
MIT Sloan | Mr. Special Forces
GMAT 720, GPA 3.82
Columbia | Mr. Fingers Crossed
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Egyptian Heritage
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Investor & Operator (2+2)
GMAT 720, GPA 3.85
Harvard | Ms. Harvard Hopeful
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mrs. Nebraska
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77

2021 MBAs To Watch: Kyle Johnson, University of Texas (McCombs)

Kyle Johnson

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Genuine, fun-loving, hard-working, adrenaline junkie; fosters inclusive and empowering environments.”

Hometown: Centreville, VA

Fun fact about yourself: I collect and maintain exotic sports cars, although I have only been able to afford the LEGO versions. I grew up building model cars and planes with my father, which sparked my love for engineering and inspired me to modify and race my personal vehicle. When I have free time, I am likely playing with my real car or my LEGO dream cars.

Undergraduate School and Degree: BS Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (2012); MPS Supply Chain Management, Pennsylvania State University (2016)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? GE Aviation, Fabrications Delivery Leader

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Danaher, Marketing Summer Associate, Orlando, FL (virtually)

Where will you be working after graduation? Danaher, General Manager Development Program, Orlando, FL

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium, Co-Liaison
  • McCombs Ambassador Committee, Co-Chair
  • Health Innovation Fellows, VP of Recruitment
  • Graduate Business Adventure Team, Co-President
  • 2021 Elevate DE&I Conference, Co-Chair

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the work I did to organize and execute the 3rd Annual McCombs Elevate DE&I Conference alongside my other Co-Chairs Andie Parazo and Jessica Reese-White. This is a student-led DE&I conference at McCombs that was started in 2019 by McCombs MBA students Ashley Fox and DeAndrea Staes. This year, we were able to transition the conference to a fully virtual format with the theme “Equity in Action” and expanded our reach to 426 unique users within the broader University of Texas student (current, prospective, graduate, and undergraduate), faculty, staff, alumni, and working professional populations. We were able to secure sponsorships from existing university corporate partners like Dell, Deloitte, and Chevron, but we also initiated new partnerships with software companies Splunk and Disco. Together, conference sponsors and participants worked to recognize, examine, and inspire innovation through powerful discussion about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the business world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In the seven years that I worked at GE pre-MBA, I planned and coordinated five diversity leadership forums, which resulted in over 100 internship and full-time offers for participants. These forums were part of the “College Life to Corporate Life” initiative through a partnership between GE and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.®, which was formed to equip select top performers within the fraternity with the tools necessary to ensure a smooth transition into the professional world while recruiting young talent for the business. I was a member of the inaugural class of this forum, which is how I obtained my first internship with GE as an undergraduate. I was honored to uphold and improve the program that afforded me so many opportunities, and I am proud to say that the program continues to this day.

Why did you choose this business school? I initially prioritized my business school preferences by academic rigor, professional opportunities, potential to leave a lasting impact on the program, and cultural fit. However, my campus visits revealed that cultural fit and potential to leave a lasting impact were the biggest differentiators between programs. My interactions with current students, admissions officers, and administrators at McCombs all felt candid and genuine, which was not my experience at other programs. I felt that McCombs was the only place that welcomed me unapologetically being myself and that this was the program that best supported student-led initiatives and change. I am proud to be a Longhorn and encourage prospective MBA students reading this post to take similar criteria under consideration when evaluating your options.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor John Doggett was my favorite MBA professor because he challenged his students to learn quickly, to think for themselves, to take and defend a position, and to embrace debate. I took Professor Doggett’s “Opportunity Identification and Analysis” class, which is a case study-based elective that focuses on how to identify and evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities so that only the ideas with the greatest chance of success will be pursued. The well-rounded nature of this classroom experience has been unmatched in my experience. Excellence was demanded in all that we did, but Professor Doggett was always available to help and encourage us. The intensity with which our class discussions took place were intended to mimic a startup funding pitch or a tough board meeting, which got us comfortable being uncomfortable; the practicum project in this class ensured that we were applying our knowledge and witnessing the real-world implications of our decisions; and the final assignment of writing our own obituaries required us to reflect on and articulate the things that we valued most deeply in life. I highly recommend any McCombs student to take at least one of the three MBA classes that Professor Doggett teaches.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition was a weekly happy hour series called “Think and Drink”. These events provided a social outlet for the entire MBA program every Thursday evening at a different venue each week. As a first-year MBA, this is how I formed relationships with most of the second-year class; as a second-year MBA, this is how I formed relationships with most of the first-year class. This tradition was unique because it welcomed everyone, did not require or pressure anyone to partake in the happy hour specials, and exposed people to the different neighborhoods and vibes that co-exist in Austin, TX.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have participated in more case competitions. While I got plenty of experience working with companies through various classes and the McCombs MBA+ Program (small team mini consulting projects with client companies), case competitions would have given me exposure to more industries and business challenges, enabled me to interact with more classmates, and allowed me to further develop my critical thinking and presentation skillsets.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Many people believe that McCombs only produces graduates who work in the tech industry or who become entrepreneurs. However, McCombs equips students to be successful in any space they choose to pursue. Classmates of mine have accepted jobs in industries from renewable energy to oil and gas, automotive to sports entertainment, and private equity to nonprofit. I started my MBA keen on working for a tech firm, but I will be entering the Life Sciences sector post-grad. I am excited for McCombs to continue to grow its reputation as a program of choice for aspiring healthcare leaders through its healthcare concentration, the Health Innovation Fellows, and the McCombs Healthcare Case Competition.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by how much I learned from my peers. I was fully prepared to study hard and to network until I was blue in the face, but the amount of knowledge that I absorbed from others was unexpected. I remember the excitement that I felt learning from the experiences that others shared during class or small group discussions. I also remember being stunned when someone shared that they had learned from a comment that I made. With everyone coming together from their respective pre-MBA lives, nobody thinks their experiences are distinctive until they begin sharing. There was never enough time to get all the details in class, so I scheduled coffee chats with classmates to learn about their previous industries, their industries of interest, how they approached a tough case for class, what their personal interests were, and so much more. The sustained willingness of my peers to meet with me enabled my eyes to be opened to myriad perspectives, topics, jobs, and interests that I had no previous exposure to. I love that the McCombs community is full of so many selfless individuals and that this experience is not unique to me.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I made a point to attend as many student recruiting events as possible. The most impactful event that I attended was Diversity Weekend, during which I was able to witness the McCombs MBA program practicing what it preached in terms of its commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I believe that I got my edge when I won an elevator pitch competition that occurred during that event in front of students, faculty, staff, and communications coaches. That accomplishment opened the door for multiple conversations with current students and career coaches who highlighted resources at McCombs that could help me achieve the goals that I laid out during my pitch. McCombs was a target program for me prior to Diversity Weekend, but my experience at that event solidified my decision to attend if accepted.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Jacob Scott. Jacob and I met playing basketball during Orientation, and I learned that we were in the same Cohort the next day. Through our classroom debates and group project interactions, Jacob’s capacity to process information and to generate valuable insights in such a natural manner has always stood out to me. I appreciate how different Jacob’s leadership traits and thought processes are from mine, so I have sought every opportunity to collaborate with and learn from him. More impressive to me than his classroom presence is his ability to balance his educational, social, and family lives. Jacob gives back to his communities, always makes time for others, and (almost) never turns down an invitation. Jacob and the Scott family are lifelong friends whether they realize it or not.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Although I experienced disruptions such as the cancellation of a Global Trip to Germany and the transition of an internship into a fully virtual assignment, I remain thankful that the intensity of my academic and work experiences did not suffer.

In March of 2020, the McCombs MBA program did an impressive job reacting to the COVID situation and communicating through the uncertainty. The program announced the remainder of the semester would be taught online only, and it invested in remote learning technologies, trained faculty and staff on how to use the new technology, and adapted class learning plans so that our academic calendar was maintained. Fortunately, many McCombs MBA professors had experience teaching virtually, so this helped ease the initial content delivery transition. As the program transitioned to a hybrid format in August of 2020, many professors were as excited to be teaching in person and providing a safe classroom environment as students were to be returning to a classroom setting if they were comfortable doing so. I acknowledge the disruption that COVID caused to the professors’ occupational norms and I appreciate their roles in creating the best learning situation possible.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? During my time at GE, a mentor of mine planted the MBA seed during a conversation about my career progression. He was a C-suite executive at GE who had been an instrumental resource in my career advancement over seven years, so he understood my goals and aspirations well. When we met to discuss my plans for my next role, he asked if I had considered pursuing a business degree. At that time, I had recently earned a master’s degree from Penn State, so going back to school was the last thing on my mind. However, he made a convincing case as he shared his MBA experience, how valuable it was for his career, and what benefits he thought it would offer me in terms of personal and professional development. I remain grateful for our relationship and that specific conversation because coming to Texas McCombs was the best choice I could have made.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? While I do have the typical outstanding financial performance and high-ranking job title aspirations, they are not at the top of my professional bucket list. I believe that those achievements will come in time as my career progresses, but I am far more excited to build a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) at a company and to serve as a career-long mentor to an underrepresented minority.

Personally, I perform best at whatever I am doing when I am comfortable and am not stressed by external factors – this sentiment is especially true in a professional setting. Having worked on teams that do not fully embrace DE&I, I understand the impact that this can have on a person’s psyche and performance. Regardless of my team or company, I will strive to build an organizational culture with DE&I at its core so that employees feel a sense of belonging as opposed to a sense of needing to fit in.

One of my mantras is to “send the elevator back down”, so I would love to mentor an underrepresented minority at the onset of their career to help them navigate the waters of their journey to achieve success. I would not be where I am today without the help and guidance of those who came before me. As a Black man, some of the most empowering experiences were my interactions with successful minorities in business. I recognize the importance of these exposures because they have always motivated me to be better and to be relentless in the pursuit of my passions.

What made Kyle such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Kyle Johnson is a thoughtful and engaged leader. He is a team player who is willing to do and excels at any work from strategic to tactical. During student leadership transitions in his first year, his name continued to appear in leadership positions of several organizations and initiatives, more than what the typical busy MBA student could handle. And yet, he has delivered in each of the positions he committed to and still found time for informal activities like connecting with peers to provide advice and encouragement, acting as a resource for first year students, and sharing his story during panels with prospective students.

One strong example of his leadership was his work over two years with our annual Elevate: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Conference. Kyle started out as a volunteer with the 2020 2nd annual Elevate Conference, where he assisted the co-chairs with conference planning and day-of event tasks. Kyle was such a dedicated, hands-on, and considerate volunteer that the co-chairs tapped him to be one of the 2021 Elevate Conference co-chairs. Without hesitation, Kyle stepped up and worked with two dynamic peers to pivot to a fully virtual conference. Kyle’s high standard, commitment, positive attitude and strategic vision helped achieve our best Elevate Conference yet with over 400 unique attendees.

Management Professor John Doggett shared: “Kyle has exceptional insight and analysis and speaks with precision and compassion. When Kyle speaks, everyone listens intently to his words. Because we all know that he will see things that most students miss when analyzing cases and discussing significant management issues.

I demand the best of my students. Kyle not only rises to the challenge, but when he speaks it is as though I am team teaching my class with an experienced business executive and professor. I have taught more than ten thousand very bright MBA candidates during my 32 years at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.  Kyle is in the top 0.1%.” 

From Accounting Professor Patrick Badolato: “Kyle is a dynamic and natural leader and a true asset to McCombs. His insightful perspectives, questions and comments in class discussions as well as broader discussions have been especially valuable during this unique year. Kyle exudes a palpable sense of calm even during more chaotic times and stands out as an individual who has truly enhanced our McCombs community.”

From his leadership on the McCombs Ambassador Committee to the Consortium to the Elevate Conference to his day-to-day interactions with peers in the classroom and beyond, Kyle embodies the energy and integrity of McCombs.

Tina Mabley
Assistant Dean and Program Director, Full-time MBA Program
The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

DON’T MISS: THE FULL LIST OF MBAS TO WATCH IN 2021