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!
You moved to Bloomington together with your wife and three young children. What was it like for your family at Kelley and in Bloomington?
Bloomington was the best place possible for my family. Between campus activities, outdoor opportunities, a relatively cheap standard of living, and lifelong friends we made there, I couldn’t ask for more. My kids attended two great schools there and my wife made more friends in Bloomington than I did!
What were the 2-3 most impactful aspects of your experience at Kelley, and what made them so?
Kelley provided me with the tools to build my business and financial acumen and further develop my personal and professional network. Those helped me land a high demand internship, an eventual full-time job offer, and a skill set that I’ll take with me wherever the future takes me. The relationships I developed at Kelley have helped guide me and my family through some difficult times and through some awesome ones as well!
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.
Upon graduation, I joined Bank of America Securities in Chicago as an investment banking associate in the firm’s Global Industrials Group. I joined the same team I interned with. My Kelley experience provided me the foundation I needed to transition to a new world within high finance. I also have the added benefit of having a robust Kelley network within my firm and client organizations that I can always tap into.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer to a prospective student (and, in particular, for a veteran and a student with a partner and children) who is considering coming to Kelley for an MBA?
As a military veteran, take advantage of the GI Bill! You’ve earned it, so use it if you can. There’s no rush to jump into the civilian sector immediately. Two years at Kelley is a great time to focus on yourself and your family. The Bloomington community has so much to offer a young family; quality education is just one aspect of the Kelley experience.