Chicago Booth | Mr. Overrepresented Indian Engineer
GMAT 740, GPA 8.78/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Analyst To Family Business Owner
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. FBI To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Two Job
GRE 330 GRE, GPA 3.63
Tuck | Mr. Infantry Officer To MBA
GRE 314, GPA 3.4
Darden | Mr. Program Manager
GRE 324, GPA 3.74
Tuck | Mr. Smart Cities
GRE 325, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Biz Human Rights
GRE 710, GPA 8/10
Harvard | Mr. Food Tech Start Ups
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. The Builder
GMAT 740, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. International Oil
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Consulting To Emerging Markets Banking
GRE 130, GPA 3.6 equivalent
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
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 | Ms. Gay Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
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
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

Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Phil Fairleigh, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Phil Fairleigh

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

“Passionate about exploring new ideas and innovations. International travel and outdoor adventure fanatic. Sarcasm enthusiast.”

Hometown: Cary, Illinois

Fun Fact About Yourself: I originally seriously considered pursuing a career as a conflict journalist. I ultimately went in a different direction, but I have had the opportunity to visit and explore some pretty interesting and off the beaten path places. This summer, I traveled for 8 weeks and visited 14 countries including a week exploring Iraq, as well as Chernobyl (Ukraine), Kosovo, and Bosnia, among others.

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, Political Science and International Relations

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Director – Global Impact Fund at Pristine Water

In this role, I was the co-director of a social enterprise selling affordable clean drinking water in urban slums in Pakistan (specifically Karachi). Many areas in Pakistan lack access to clean water, so Pristine Water is an effort to address this challenge with a business solution. We own and operate a plant in Karachi that purifies drinking water, which we sell into urban areas in an effort to create a self-sustaining solution to clean water access.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I found many aspects of Kellogg appealing, but the culture at Kellogg was a crucial factor in my decision. My classmates at Kellogg truly want to get to know each other at a personal level, not simply to just network. For every two-minute conversation I’ve had about something related to business school [such as my time in private equity], I’ve had a 30-minute conversation about my personal and professional travels. Kellogg also has an incredibly fun social culture with more events than you could possibly ever attend. Kellogg’s KWEST trips in particular are an amazing multi-day event that allows you to meet and develop close friendships with your classmates early on. If you want to get involved, meet loads of new people, receive top tier academics, and have a blast socially for two years there is no better MBA than Kellogg.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? Kellogg’s focus on social impact, particularly the Net Impact Club, was a significant selling point for me on the school. While most top MBA programs have some limited offerings in social impact, I found the breadth and depth of the offerings at Kellogg to be incredibly appealing. Kellogg actually offers a specific social impact academic pathway with over 30 classes and experiential opportunities to choose from, which I plan to pursue. After my experience with social impact in Pakistan, I strongly believe in the power of harnessing business and market mechanisms to drive social change. I believe Kellogg to be the premier MBA for those interested in leveraging the power of business to work to address global challenges being ignored or inadequately handled by traditional institutions. I also have a growing interest in entrepreneurship and am particularly excited about the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Club, which focuses on search fund opportunities.

What word best describes the Kellogg MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Open. I can confidently say Kellogg has the most open culture I have ever experienced, both with the classmates and alumni I have met. Kellogg targets high-impact, low-ego applicants and it definitely shows through when you have conversations with classmates. Kellogg social events are incredibly unique because you can just walk up to a random person or group you’ve never met and end up often having an incredibly deep conversation.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? Kellogg’s location in Evanston with easy access to Chicago is an ideal location for earning an MBA. The vast majority of Kellogg students live in Evanston, which allows the school to retain a sense of community, which can be lost at schools located in the heart of large cities. Simultaneously, Kellogg also has easy train or Uber access to Chicago (you can literally see downtown Chicago from Kellogg) giving the school the best of both world:  a tight community and easy access to an amazing major city. Chicago itself is an awesome and vibrant city with a huge array of restaurants, bars, activities, and more.

Kellogg is known for a team-driven culture. What quality do you bring as a teammate and why is it so important to success? It is a willingness to engage with and explore perspectives different from my own. The diversity of experiences and perspectives that various team members bring to the table is often the single most valuable asset a team has. I am a big believer that the most effective teams are diverse teams in which everyone feels their perspective can and should be heard. This is also a fundamental value at Kellogg – we actually had a fantastic session on this concept during orientation week with Dr. Nicholas Pearce that really showed the diversity of backgrounds in our class, and emphasized the tremendous value they provide.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was incredibly proud of our accomplishments at Pristine Water around diversity and empowerment in a region often marred by ethnic tension. Our staff has included Shi’a and Sunni Muslims, Christians, as well as a diverse array of ethnicities working side-by-side. A small but meaningful highlight of this had always been having company events where all of our employees celebrate both Eid and Christmas together. We also previously launched a door-to-door public health awareness campaign staffed exclusively by local women, in order to empower a frequently marginalized segment of the Pakistani workforce.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 really gave me first-hand perspective on how truly massive the inequality is between the developing world and the developed world. During the pandemic, I was in the unique position of living in the United States, while simultaneously co-directing a social enterprise in Pakistan. We were fortunate enough to be able to provide regular COVID testing to our staff (as well as providing TB and polio vaccination if needed – Pakistan is one of the only countries still afflicted with polio), but to some degree the pandemic did not change daily life much in Pakistan; you cannot afford to just stay home in a country with a per capita GDP of $1,200.

Even today, as we begin to roll out vaccine booster shots, 13.2% of Pakistan is fully vaccinated and half of the countries in Africa have under 2% of their populations vaccinated. COVID truly cemented my belief that working to address the often dire and rapidly evolving challenges in underdeveloped regions is extremely meaningful to me.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I felt it would be incredibly valuable to surround myself with, and learn from, the incredibly diverse and accomplished student body of a top MBA program. I strongly believe that many global challenges can be addressed through the traditional market mechanism and I believe the next generation of business leaders has the potential to drive significant positive social change. I am proud of what we have accomplished with Pristine Water in Pakistan, and I felt business school (and Kellogg in particular) would be the perfect launchpad to pursue even more impactful endeavors. I also think an MBA provides an excellent platform to explore other areas of interest for me such as search funds and traditional entrepreneurial opportunities.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford, Harvard, Duke, and Columbia

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? I often times think that when applying to MBA programs applicants try to tell the admissions committee what they think they want to hear, rather than showcasing what really matters to the applicant and what they are passionate about.

Kellogg really values unique experiences and people who are passionate about their interests. I think my least compelling applications were when I went to the program’s website and looked at what I thought they were looking for and tried to force fit my background and experiences to that mold. Be yourself – Kellogg specifically looks for interesting, unique, and passionate applicants.