Question #1

Why are you seeking an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, what do you hope to experience and contribute, and what are your plans and goals after you receive your degree?

The intellectual environment at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business will accelerate and add value to my career and help me build a breadth of business knowledge. Contributing to this educational experience will challenge me to learn from both my professors and peers.

My first job after college was as a leadership consultant for my college fraternity headquarters. I nurtured leadership ability, taught communication skills and confrontation tactics, encouraged responsible behavior, and served as a role model for undergraduate leaders at the more than forty colleges and universities to which I traveled. From this I learned that I can succeed in activities and appreciate people that push me out of my comfort zone. I also learned that enthusiasm is contagious, and that my excitement and energy are transferable. A third observation from that experience is about what separates the leading academic institutions from the rest of the pack. In my mind, the caliber and depth of the ‘average’ student make the difference at top schools, like the UCGSB, creating a more dynamic learning atmosphere, both in the classroom and in the campus community.

I bring a broad range of experiences to contribute to the classroom environment. I opened my first business at age ten, supplying the Sikeston Freshman Marching Band with lemonade after each daily rehearsal every August. I was responsible for financing (a temporary loan from mom and dad), the supply chain and raw materials (riding my bike daily to the local Wal-Mart for lemonade and Styrofoam cups), human resources (I hired my six-year old sister to help for $1 a day), and succession planning (when I became a Freshman, my ’employee’ took over the business). It was usually about 95 degrees and humid, so marketing was pretty simple ($.25 for a small and $.50 for a large). Fortunately, the specter of a Justice Department investigation did not influence my monopoly, and the business earned me several hundred dollars each summer. I continued to work at a variety of part-time jobs throughout high school and college, personally contributing about 50% to the total cost of my college education.

At nineteen I spent five months in Europe and the Middle East as part of an independently planned and financed adventure. In addition to learning the history, customs, and current affairs of several cultures, one matures quickly given the responsibilities and language barriers of independent foreign travel.

I was robbed twice, and after two months picking bananas in the Israeli occupied West Bank, I confirmed two things: rats like bananas and there is definite value in education.

My senior year in college, my peers selected me as Southeast Missouri State University’s 1991 Man of the Year. Both inside and outside the classroom, I think faculty, administrators and students liked or respected me because I listened, collaborated, and was willing to make mistakes. I’ve built many solid relationships by demonstrating the capacity to learn from failures to ultimately achieve individual and team success.

An MBA from the UCGSB will advance my short and long-term goals. Short term, I aspire to an executive position of leadership with the opportunity to set strategy, to lead large businesses forward, and to build other leaders. Long term, I look towards earning my Ph.D. and teaching management and leadership to undergraduates.

Professionally, it is critical that I speak the language of our diverse clients in order to be effective. I am a manager for one the largest management consulting firms in the world, KPMG. Understanding the needs and capabilities of our Fortune 500 clients requires a broad-based skill set in order to communicate and add value. The UCGSB supplements my consulting training and experience by exposing me to disciplines on which I do not regularly focus, such as marketing and production operations. KPMG’s business model focuses on providing consultants who have significant industry experience to our clients, and it is important to maintain competitive qualifications and flexibility in a firm where 50% of my peers have advanced degrees.

On a more personal level, I eventually want to teach. As a college senior, I ‘co-taught’ a university class. Southeast paired three student leaders and faculty to deliver a core freshman component of the University’s general studies program. This experience confirmed my desire to teach at the college level. A broad business education will help me select an area of specialization for eventual Ph.D. studies, where I intend to create an engaging, challenging and popular learning environment by leveraging my professional, academic and personal experiences in the classroom.

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