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Real Humans of the Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

Ryan McDonough, Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

Ryan McDonough, Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

Age: 31

Hometown: New Fairfield, CT

Undergraduate Institution and Major: U.S. Naval Academy, international relations major/Spanish minor

Pre-MBA Work Experience: Prior to Kellogg I served eight years in the U.S. Navy as a special operations bomb disposal officer, also known as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).

Why business school? Why now? I decided to transition out of the Navy because I wanted to seek new leadership opportunities and challenges while maintaining a little more personal autonomy over my career. I decided on business school because I wanted to explore how I could best leverage the experiences I had in the Navy of leading teams overseas in ambiguous and sometimes chaotic environments and ultimately translate that into running a company or organization.

Why Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? The most prominent factor in my decision to attend was the greater Kellogg community I got to know throughout the application process. Whether I was interacting with current students, alumni, or admissions personnel, everyone I met were just the type of people I wanted to surround myself with and a community I wanted to be a part of. One of Kellogg’s greatest strengths is its awesome culture of inclusion and leveraging everyone’s talents to create value. This has absolutely proven true since beginning school—the people I get to go through this experience with are my favorite part of being at Kellogg.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2019? I hope I can share some of my experiences and things I’ve learned from leading teams of high-performing individuals. I was fortunate to have some great people on my teams who were all a lot more talented than me; my job was to clear all obstacles in their way and set them up for success so they could do what they did best and accomplish amazing things. I think it is this unique perspective that I can bring to business school and hopefully find ways in which my classmates will benefit from my experiences.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I like taking apart things that are broken and trying to fix them on my own—washing machine, ice maker, lawn mower, etc.

Post-MBA career interests? Something in the entrepreneurial realm that involves growing and scaling a company.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

  –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I went through a lot of drafts and revisions of my essays over the course of a few months and would absolutely recommend the same to others. Use the time writing essays for self-reflection to think about some of the common themes from your personal life and professional career prior to school and decide what you really want to get out of your business school experience.

Kellogg MBA Class of 2019

McDonough pictured here while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

  –One thing you would change or do differently? Start the GMAT early and complete it before you even start visiting schools and working on applications.

  –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? I would have loved to skip the GMAT. I wish I had some good advice to give on how to crush the exam, but I never quite mastered that aspect of the application.

Greatest highlight so far at Kellogg? My greatest highlight has been the KWEST trip, which pairs you with 20 students in the incoming class and you go on a pre-term trip to different locations around the world. I went to Belgium and the Netherlands and made some of my first and best friends at Kellogg on the trip. It’s an awesome way to develop a social circle with people you may have never interacted with, and it really helps instill the Kellogg culture in everyone early on.

One thing about Kellogg that you didn’t expect before arriving?
One thing I didn’t expect is the sheer diversity of my classmates and the incredible backgrounds everyone has; I am blown away on a daily basis by everyone’s amazing accomplishments and the awesome things people did prior to Kellogg. The coolest thing though is that everyone is incredibly humble about their backgrounds and nobody wears their accomplishments on their sleeve—they take what they’ve learned from their past and use it to contribute to our class for the benefit of others.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? I’m a little anxious to see what a true Chicago winter is like. It got cold here pretty fast and the winds coming off the lake take it to a new level.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? I’m really excited about exploring the entrepreneurial realm, which I’ve only recently discovered. I didn’t come to Kellogg thinking about entrepreneurism, but since starting school I’ve really become fascinated by it and feel it will be a great way to leverage my personal strengths and professional background. Kellogg has a ton of great offerings through coursework and experiential learning that expose you to all aspects of being an entrepreneur so that you can determine which type of environment you want to pursue after graduation.

Posted in: MBA Feature, MBA News, News, Real Humans Class of 2019

Schools: Northwestern / Kellogg

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