JR Renbarger, Director of Strategy, Corporate Real Estate at IU Health, Indianapolis, IN, and Kelley MBA alum shares what motivated him to take a leap and get an MBA. And how the challenges and experience of a Kelley MBA is a game-changer for his career.
by Joe Metts, MBA Candidate Class of 2022
The decision to pursue graduate education is one of the most life-altering choices you can make. Doing so in the midst of a global pandemic makes it even more daunting. When prospective students evaluate programs, they often do so while considering rankings, career outcomes, and program reputation, all of which are valuable metrics to assess. During these uncertain times, one criterion emerged as my deciding factor in choosing Kelley, community – and it’s something I believe every prospective should consider.
What do I mean by community? It encompasses the friends and colleagues you will make as a member of the program, the faculty and staff that make Kelley a world-class school to pursue a graduate business education and life in Bloomington – a college town unlike any other.
Friends and colleagues: Every MBA program touts their holistic decision-making process and they use “diversity” as a buzzword to generate interest among prospective students. In my MBA application journey, I found those topics to be sincere at the Kelley School of Business. In this program, you will find individuals from all walks of life, which includes race, ethnicity, gender, sex, socioeconomic status, work experience, academic performance, etc. There is truly no typical “Kelley” student profile, and it makes the program an exceptional place to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. The friendships and relationships I’ve made in a short time have made this one of the most enjoyable times of my life and I’ve had the privilege of meeting hundreds of incredible people and future business leaders as a member of the Kelley MBA program.
Faculty and staff support: Over the fall semester the United States saw the majority of its Top 25 MBA programs shift to virtual learning amidst the pandemic. While this precaution is a fair one, it fundamentally alters the learning environment at the student’s expense. At Kelley, our faculty and staff went above and beyond to keep us in the classroom through their generosity and commitment to the MBA experience. Our “Core” sections expanded from 2 to 3 – with professors agreeing to teach an additional course for the benefit of the students, and expansive safety measures were put in place to keep our student body healthy and present over the course of the semester. Every professor made themselves openly available to support students along the way, ensuring we had both the personal and academic resources available to succeed. There’s certainly value in attending a program with large class sizes, but there’s also a fine line between “building a network” and becoming a number, so carefully consider the program support available to students when making your business school decision.
Life in Bloomington: My friend Danielle VeZellos beautifully highlighted what she loves about Bloomington in 2020, so I encourage you to read her thoughts. I’d like to reiterate that I believe Bloomington is a place for everyone. As a native of Asheville, North Carolina, I saw many similarities between my hometown and Bloomington when assessing business schools and considering where I’d like to live. There are hundreds of restaurants spanning the global food scene, classic college bars, and independent shops and boutiques that line the town square, not to mention outdoor staples like Griffey Lake and Lake Monroe, just to name a few. Whether you’re from or currently live in a small to medium-sized town or are interested in taking a step away from the hustle of life in New York, L.A., or Chicago, Bloomington will be an excellent fit for you over the next 2 years.
A business school’s people – its students, staff, faculty, and alums – will be your closest allies and your best friends during your two years in an MBA program, so it’s important you join the right community. I may be a bit bias, but I’d say there’s none better than what you’ll find at the Kelley School of Business. Contact me or any of the Kelley MBA Hoosier Hosts to learn more! We’re always happy to chat.
Rohit Raman, MBA/MSIS Candidate Class of 2022
“I want to be a Product Manager in Fintech Industry”- Source unknown.
Disclaimer: This is not my dream and frankly, when I was starting my MBA, I had no idea what either Product Manager or Fintech meant.
Before joining the Kelley family, I served in the Indian Navy for 10 years. I am second-generation Military personnel and military life is all I had experienced before. I had no idea what happened in the Corporate world, or what I wanted to do post completing my graduation. I thought two years was a long time to figure out what I enjoyed doing and then find a job that let me do that. During Me, Inc, the Cohort was split into smaller groups and then asked by a career coach what we wanted to do with our MBA. Everyone in the group except me was so sure what they wanted. Some wanted to be product managers in Fintech, others wanted to be consultants in technology or investment bankers. I freaked out and started to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
As to date, I have survived six months of the program and it has only been possible due to the collaboration of everyone involved with the program. Collaboration was evident even before we reached campus. The Class of 2022 started our MBAs during very uncertain times and the MBA office helped us get amended travel documents as many times as we required and supported us whenever we required any help. When I spoke to my second-year peer coach Evelyn Gill for the first time, what was supposed to be a short introductory call, lasted almost 2 hours in which she literally explained what various roles in corporate mean and where MBAs fit in the entire organization. My career coaches kept prodding me to dive in and figure out what I enjoyed most about my time in the military and kept nudging me in the right direction to figure out what kind of roles I will enjoy once I graduate. Second-year MBAs were always ready to review resumes, conduct mock interviews and case interviews, and guide us on how to be successful in the program. I dreaded networking, but after an initial few calls with alumni, I realized networking was not so bad when you have a great extended family of alumni. I spoke to several of them about what they did, what they enjoyed about their jobs, and what skills were required to be successful in their roles.
But most importantly, I am part of a Cohort with some great individuals. Most of my classmates, like me, would say that they had the best core team. Doesn’t this say a lot about the character of each and every individual in this cohort? Deciding to come back to school during a pandemic already speaks volumes about their determination and resilience. I was part of a diverse core team and we survived the grueling Core together. We supported each other through case competitions, group assignments, company presentations, etc. Everyone was always willing to help each other and go the extra mile if required to ensure we always remained on top of things.
In the past six months, I have come a long way, but am I sure about what I want to do post my MBA? Obviously NO, but at least now I know what I do not want to do and have narrowed down my options. I am sure my internship will give me another option to experiment and continue this journey of self-discovery. The beauty of an MBA program is that everyone had a different journey before deciding to come back to school and everyone will proceed to different destinations. What we all have in common is the desire to learn, the desire to help each other achieve our dreams, and the desire to create great memories during the time we all have together.
Udit Joshi, MBA’19 shares how his experience as a Kelley full-time MBA student enabled him to build momentum in his career and take him all the way to Google as a Global Product Lead. From gaining coaching experience with 1Kelley Consulting to building his confidence and giving him an edge in his career with Me, Inc, hear from Udit on his time at Kelley:
Ready to create the future you want like Udit? Learn more about why the Kelley MBA is right for you.
I’m from Bogota, Colombia, and was living there before beginning my MBA at Kelley.
You had worked in several different corporate financial roles before you joined the MBA program. What motivated you to return to graduate school for your MBA?
I spent a significant amount of time working in my family’s business right before Kelley. When I started thinking about continuing my career elsewhere, I realized I was missing something in my background and an MBA seemed to be the right next step.
I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do after graduation but I knew an MBA would open doors in different directions, so for me, it was also about learning about what drives me and understanding where my skills can be a differentiating factor. Two years at Kelley helped me gain perspective to be able to make better career choices.
What factors led you to choose Kelley over other MBA programs?
I researched a good number of schools before making my decision, and I met a lot of people at MBA fairs and events. Plus, I did a lot of reading on my own. After having the opportunity to attend experience weekend in Bloomington, Kelley captivated me with a balance of great education, solid career opportunities, and a welcoming team-oriented environment. I felt I could achieve my goals at Kelley while at the same time enjoy my MBA time to the fullest before going back to “real life”.
What was it like to be an international student at Kelley and in Bloomington, Indiana?
In the beginning, I was a little hesitant about going to the Midwest but at the same time, I thought it would be an opportunity for me as an international student to differentiate myself.
Bloomington surprised us in a great way, it’s such a great little town filled with people, culture, and cuisine from all over the world. My memories from there always bring a smile to my face, not only because my daughter was born there, but just because the town has so much to offer. Additionally, the Latino community during my time at Kelley was incredible. I had a great time and made friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
What were the most impactful aspects of your experience at Kelley, and what made them so?
Firstly, career services and Me, Inc: As difficult as it was for me to adjust to the intense US recruitment culture, the career coaching I received made a huge difference in my ability to sell my story to the companies that I wanted to work for. I used to joke with my wife that I had become an “interview machine” after so much time spent preparing for it at Kelley. It wasn’t easy, but to this day, the skills I acquired back then continue to help me in my career
Second, going back to balance, Kelley was a great combination of top-notch education, meaningful career opportunities, and a great environment to spend your MBA years in.
Tell us a bit about your career since leaving Kelley (including your current employer and title) and how your Kelley experience has prepared you to accomplish all that you’ve done.
I joined PwC’s M&A advisory practice right after Kelley working out of the Dallas office, where I spent around 2.5 years doing post-M&A integration and divestiture work, helping companies capture value out of their M&A transactions. I had the opportunity to work on several multi-billion-dollar deals while working with top executives from some of the largest companies in the US.
I was then recruited by Millicom, which is a telecommunications company with operations in Latin America and Africa. Under its Tigo brand, it’s one of the largest telecom companies in Latam and one of the best employers in the region. I started as a Chief of Staff to the Group’s Chief Technical and Information Officer helping him manage his interactions and communications with high profile stakeholders in the company and industry. After that, I spent about a year traveling to Central America where I led the synergy realization program for Millicom’s acquisition of Telefonica Movistar operations in Nicaragua and Panama.
Currently, I am Head of Global Investment Strategy at Millicom, based in Miami, and I’m responsible for the capital allocation process of more than $1 billion in capital deployed every year in Latin America and Africa.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer to a prospective student who is considering coming to Kelley for an MBA?
There’s no doubt Kelley will provide a lot of tools and open opportunities to boost your career, but you must do your part. Especially when it comes to recruiting, you must be willing to put in the work and keep an open mind to any opportunities that could present to you.
This not only means dedicating quality time every day to look for the right job opportunity, but also avoid over-idealizing your next career move. Too often I saw fellow classmates turn down recruiting processes without even researching the opportunity in detail. Your next job is important but remember, chances are it will be just another stepping stone in your career, and there are many ways to get to your goal.
You had worked in several different engineering and supply chain roles before you joined the MBA program. What motivated you to return to graduate school—and to come to the United States—for your MBA?
Part of me always wanted to attend graduate school as I think it is important to never stop learning. My brother had gotten his MBA in the US and through some discussions with him thought this would be a good move for me in order to take my career to the next level. I knew there were many excellent universities in the US that I could look into and I also wanted to have the experience of living here.
What factors led you to choose Kelley over other MBA programs?
I attended “The Grad School”, an institute in Bogota that helps with training for the GMAT and school application counseling, and they gave me a list of potential schools that fit my interests and Kelley was one of them. I did some research on the school and the MBA program and it captured my interest, as I was looking for a school in a small to mid-sized city, with a strong supply chain MBA concentration, and a medium-sized class. After meeting in Bogota with Regina Lee, associate director of admissions, at an MBA conference and with current students during a winter break coffee chat, I decided to apply to the Kelley along with two other business schools that also met my criteria. I was accepted into all three but ultimately made my decision after I traveled and toured each of the campuses and met with people in each school. There is a magic to Bloomington and the culture that Kelley has that is undeniable and made me feel at home as soon as I got there. It is truly a collaborative, fun environment.
Seann Kim, MBA’18, joined the Kelley full-time MBA program after a decade of military service. Seann is now an investment banking associate-Global Industrials Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Chicago, IL
Where are you from, and where were you living before you came to Kelley?
I’m originally from Palatine, IL. Pre-Kelley, I was stationed at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. While there, my family lived in beautiful Tacoma, WA, where we fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.
Before coming to Kelley, you graduated from West Point and served as an Army Special Forces Detachment Commander. What motivated you to return to graduate school for an MBA?
After a decade of rigorous military training and deployments around the world, my wife and I decided that we needed to transition to a different lifestyle. At the time, I wasn’t confident or fully prepared to pursue a specific and new career directly from the military, especially with a wife and three young kids. I believed that a full-time MBA experience would be the perfect transition for a vet back to the civilian sector. That said, I had an amazing experience as a Green Beret and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What led you to choose Kelley over other MBA programs?
When I was exploring different programs, my sister’s boyfriend was in his 2nd year at Kelley. During his time in Bloomington, he routinely kept me up to date with his MBA experience. I eventually attended Experience Weekend. That validated a lot of the views he shared with me about Kelley’s culture, academic experience, network, and potential to maneuver my way into sought-after careers. That weekend, I officially committed to Kelley and since I did it in person, I got some cool Kelley swag! (more…)
MBA Candidate | Class of 2021 | CGSM
The Kelley Consortium
Attending the Kelley School of Business Full-Time MBA Program is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being taught by eager and world-class faculty and having the support of Graduate Career Services are two reasons why. But nothing has been more enriching than my membership into the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM) family. There are definite admission awards specific to being a Kelley School CGSM member: merit scholarship, free health care during your two years of study, and dedicated faculty-led study sessions during the Core semester, to name a few. The admissions package is the outcome of not only gaining admission to Kelley but also successfully completing an independent Consortium admissions process. It represents Kelley’s commitment to eliminating the barriers that prevent many underrepresented minorities from seeking an MBA degree.
We are Family
But there is an even greater benefit that I gained through Kelley Consortium membership – family. Even before my CGSM ’21 cohort started our first class, we had bonded. We spent the summer before school preparing for and attending the Consortium Orientation Program, which gave us early recruiting access to some of the most sought-after companies. When we finally arrived on campus, we were welcomed by the CGSM class of ’20, who hosted small group dinners for us at their homes. They also planned community service activities, a Thanksgiving potluck to show off our culinary skills (or lack thereof), and a white elephant Christmas party (can you believe someone gift wrapped bacon?!). But most of all, it’s the marathon study sessions in the Kelley MBA Lounge and impromptu get-togethers at each other’s homes that I cherish the most. These were the moments where we fretted, struggled, and laughed until we cried. These were the moments when we strengthened already unbreakable bonds.
Leadership at Kelley
While we are a close-knit group, we are equally proud to be members of the overall Kelley community. This is demonstrated by our collective leadership. Of the 31 official clubs for MBA students, a third are led by Consortium members: Innovators Club, Food Club, Beer Club, Marketing Club, Luxury Marketing Club, Out@Kelley, Diversity Champions, Latino MBA Association, and Black MBA Association. The student body president is also a CGSM member and the president of the Partners Club is the spouse of a Consortium student. Additionally, we serve as graduate assistants in many areas, including two of us serving on the Admissions Committee. Proudly, we are integrated into the fabric of the Kelley community in diverse ways.
The 2021 and 2022 Consortium cohorts self-identify as Black, white, Latino, and Asian. We are citizens of 3 different countries. Our professional experiences, reasons for attending business school, and post-Kelley career goals vary widely. But what we have in common is a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Specifically, we are committed to the mission of the Consortium, which is to increase the representation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in business schools, corporate America, the non-profit sector, government, and entrepreneurship. All U.S. citizens and permanent residents committed to this mission are encouraged to apply to Kelley through the Consortium. As a Consortium Liaison for the 2020-2021 academic year, I look forward to welcoming you into the Kelley Consortium family.
By Cait Hickey, MBA’21
When the Class of 2021 kicked off our business school experience last fall, we knew that we would be pursuing internships that would disperse us all over the country the following summer. With that said, we made the most of every fall tailgate, Bluebird concert, and opportunity to Sink the Biz. We rented the 10th and College clubhouse for game nights, bussed to Columbus for a beer festival, and threw every themed party. In case Eric Johnson or Kyle Cattani is reading this, we also found time to network and study diligently!
But as the spring semester came to a close and the world went virtual, we found ourselves in the one place we never thought we would be this summer: Bloomington, IN. And we fell in love with Bloomington all-new (physically distant) ways.
I bought a bike and explored the B-Line. We went camping and introduced some of our international classmates to smores. We played pickleball at Switchyard Park and tennis at Bryant Park. The veterans led a virtual workout that we started doing every Monday and Wednesday morning outside of City Hall (try it here). We ordered BBQ nachos from Big Woods, picked up coffee from Hopscotch and too many pastries from Two Sticks, and have tested our share of DaVinci pizzas.
Whenever I am asked how my summer was, I always say it was a summer in Bloom! We got to experience a quiet Bloomington summer and spend more time with our classmates. We are so excited that the first-years are making their way to campus and already look forward to the first time we get to come back to Bloomington to recruit the next generation of Kelleys!