Introducing our First Student of the Month-January 2015
January 2015 KD Student of the Month
Tell me a bit about yourself, including your career and academic background.
I was born-n-raised on the island of O’ahu, HI. I left my island home for San Diego, CA where I currently reside. I received my BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Information Systems from San Diego State University. I’m a recent MBA graduate and I’m currently pursuing my MS in Strategic Management (MSSM) at the Kelley School of Business. I will graduate with my MSSM in May 2015. In parallel, I’m working full time as a Sr. IT Service Manager at AT&T, where I have over 11 years of IT Service Management and Telecommunications industry experience. I recently accepted an offer from Ernst & Young (EY) to work out of their LA office as a Sr. Consultant. I’m set to start my new career in July 2015.
What first interested you in the Kelley Direct Program?
Back in 2011 I decided that it was time to switch careers. I was bored with my current position and wanted to see what else was out there. I knew that my chances of switching careers would be greatly improved with a MBA from a top-tier business school. However, I couldn’t afford to quit working for 2-years to attend a traditional MBA program this far along in my career. Like most people, I was skeptical about online MBAprograms as I thought that it wouldn’t hold as much weight or be as valuable as a traditional degree. Boy was I wrong. I figured that if I’m going to invest in myself for 2+ years that it better be worth it. So I did my research and targeted the top online MBA programs that I could find. I applied and was accepted to four of the top online business schools at the time. I choose Kelley for a number of reasons including (and in no particular order):
- Prestige – Kelley is consistently ranked in the top 20 for full time MBA programs and within the top 3 for online MBA programs
- Rigorous curriculum – Challenges you to be your best, thereby preparing you to perform your best post-MBA
- Top-ranked professors – Same professors as in the full time MBA program
- Largest living alumni base – At last count, the living IU alumni base broke the 100K barrier. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know… Albeit, I believe it’s a combination of the two.
- Lower cost/Higher ROI – Compared to other online business schools, you get the most value for your dollar.
- Students have a voice to shape the program – Unlike most business schools, the students have the ability to make some real changes in the program to better suit their ever-changing needs.
- Non-lockstep/flexible – The Kelley Direct program is truly tailored to the working professional. It’s the only top-tier online MBA (at the time) that will allow you to finish your degree in 2 or more years (up to 5 years).
- Only two in-residences (e.g. KCW) – Kelley only requires its students to attend two on-campus Kelley Connect Weeks.
- Additional networking opportunities – Kelley is building a student community and has several professional student organizations (e.g. associations) to meet student’s needs.
- Leadership opportunities – Students can join any club as an officer to develop their leadership skills.
- AGILE courses – Without a doubt, the AGILE study abroad courses are hands down, the best courses Kelley has to offer. At the time of this writing, I have attended the pilot course in Botswana (Summer 2013) and the pilot course in Myanmar (Spring 2014). I’m also planning to attend AGILE Greece this Spring 2015. All three of these are level 3 courses, which offer you the opportunity to utilize everything you’ve learned thus far in a real world international consulting engagement. You can substitute an AGILE course in place of several electives and/or a capstone course. An AGILE course has the best of several worlds – everything you’ve learned in class (theory) culminates into that “Aha” moment where it just all makes sense, you get to travel to an emerging market with knowledgeable faculty, you meet all types of interesting people from all over the world, you get to develop real lifelong relationships with peers, the list goes on… AGILE is where theory meets practice. In terms of career advancement, this is where the pedal meets the metal. I can honestly say that these experiences have provided me with a wealth of knowledge and the tools required to successfully make my career switch into management consulting. Nothing else out there comes close. If you have the opportunity to take an AGILE course, don’t hesitate to jump at it. You’ll thank me for it.
- Top-notch Graduate Career Services – The best of the best and it’s only getting better.
Describe how the Kelley Direct program has helped you reach your career goals.
As I eluded to above, the KD program has prepared me to successfully transition into a consulting career with one of the Big Four firms (EY). I fully immersed myself into the program by getting involved with the KDSLA as the VP of IT for two terms (2013-2015). I also co-founded the KD Consulting Club (KDCC) with a few colleagues, where I served as the President from 2014-2015. I have met some amazing people and have had the chance to shape the program to better meet the needs of students. Both opportunities have helped me to develop myself both personally and professionally. In fact, in conjunction with the Agile courses (Botswana and Myanmar), I had a wealth of real world experience that I leveraged during my on-campus interviews with consulting firms such as Deloitte, Cognizant, and EY. The interviewers were already amazed that I was a KD (working and attending graduate school full time). However, unlike my peers, these opportunities truly made me standout amongst the competition. You get out of the program what you put into it.
Tell us about your experiences with the AGILE International Consulting trips.
As the great Morpheus once said, “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the [Agile experience] is. You have to see it for yourself.” There are no real words in the English language to describe the Agile experience. However, I will do my best to describe my experiences at a high level, albeit, words will not do it justice.
AGILE Botswana (Level 3): Botswana would not have been on my bucket list of places to see before I die. That was before I experienced Botswana through AGILE. Botswana is my favorite AGILE course to date. I had an amazing client and an even more amazing team. We met our client over a weekend in Washington, D.C. during the first week of the 12-week course. During this first encounter our 4-person team built a rapport with our client to break the ice. Over the next 11 weeks, my team and I gathered and analyzed data to better isolate the true problems and develop actionable recommendations for our client. We then flew out to Botswana where we continued to fine-tune our recommendations in light of first-hand, primary research. On the last day we presented our recommendations to our client.
My faculty coach was extremely helpful in guiding us and keeping us on track. The saying was, “Hang Loose,” which means, be flexible and roll with the punches. It’s not uncommon for things to change, sometimes drastically, during your engagement with the client. For example, you may learn new information during your week in-country that nullifies your recommendations and forces you to come up with new recommendations on the fly. After the course ended, a group of 8 Kelley’s traveled around sub-Saharan Arica to visit places such as Cape Town (South Africa), Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe), and Chobe National Park (Botswana/Nimibia/Zambia). I’m sure that my colleagues will agree that these were some of the most memorable times of our lives.
AGILE Myanmar (Level 3): Myanmar was another place that I thought I’d never visit, but glad that I did. Unlike Botswana, Myanmar was a last minute change. Initially, we were supposed to be in Panama. However, the clients in Panama fell through at the last minute. Therefore, we did not have enough time to schedule a meet with our Burmese client in the beginning like we did in Agile Botswana. Nevertheless, we made it work. There were several issues that cropped up during our 12-week engagement that really simulated a real-world experience unlike any theoretical course could. For example, our client was very reserved and not forthcoming with much of the information we requested to better isolate the root cause(s) of his problems. So, we had to “hang loose” by making assumptions based on imperfect information. The language and culture barriers played a significant role as well. We had to remain flexible throughout the course when our client was unavailable (e.g. either on vacation or celebrating a national holiday).
As I described earlier (Agile Botswana), our recommendations were based on assumptions that eventually were proved to be incorrect. Once we arrived in-country during the last week of our course, our client provided many of the missing pieces that we originally requested in week 1. In light of this new information, we had to completely scrap our recommendations and start from scratch. Luckily, we had an amazing team and faculty coach. We were able to revise our recommendations and PPT deck in time to present to our client. He was extremely impressed with our work. Before the course, a few of us traveled to Hong Kong. After the course ended, several of us traveled to Bagan (Myanmar), KL (Malaysia), and Bali (Indonesia).
What advice do you have for new Kelley Direct students?
If I were to sum up my advice to new online MBA and MS students it would be the following:
- Do make the most of every opportunity that the KD program provides. I know that we’re all working professionals and we all have busy personal lives. However, you may never have another opportunity like this to develop yourself to your fullest potential. You know, be the best you can be. This is the time to make mistakes and learn from it. Again, you get much more out of the program what you put into it.
- Do attend as many Agile courses as possible. Note: At the time of this writing, students were limited to a maximum of two Agile courses. Nevertheless, you can petition to take more. I was able to convince the KD leadership that I needed more real-world, hands-on consulting engagements to better prepare me to successfully transition into a consulting career. With that being said, you don’t have to be a “career switcher” to benefit from an Agile course. It is a life-changing experience for anyone from any background wishing to pursue any career endeavor.
- Network, network, network. Did I mention to network?! This is not the time to be shy or reticent. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll thrive. If not, learn how to adapt. Trust me, you’ll live.
- Take full advantage of the Graduate Career Services immediately. Do it like yesterday. The sooner the better. Even if you’re planning to stay with the same company, they will be able to guide you in the right direction to make the most out of the program. Moreover, you may discover that you really have a passion for another career. I know I did.
- Do volunteer to be an officer in one of the associations or on the KDSLA (or both like I did). You will learn new skills and develop current (or old ones) as well. You will meet some really high caliber individuals who share the same desire to be the best of the best. You will get to network (offline and in-person) much more often with both colleagues in your cohort and in several other cohorts. You will get to meet the amazing KD program staff and in-residence students. You can also attend additional KCWs to serve as an ambassador, thereby increasing your network. Last but not least, you will gain a wealth of real world experience that you can leverage on your resume or during interviews within or outside of your current company.
About the KDSLA Student of the Month Award
Kelley Direct Student Leadership Association, otherwise known as KDSLA, has teamed up with our student associations to create a new program, “Student of the Month,” honoring one outstanding Kelly Direct student each month for their contributions to the greater Kelley Direct community. A current KD student may be nominated by faculty, staff or peers for this competitive and prestigious award. This program will recognize and award students whose involvement in the KD Community goes beyond the traditional curriculum (such as participation in KDSLA and AGILE), whose ideas and efforts have helped transform or improve a process that benefited the Kelley Direct program and its students, and students who have demonstrated how to achieve their professional goals using the resources available from the Kelley School. If you want to nominate a candidate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org