Christie Cataldo, Mendoza College of Business MBA Class of 2025
Hometown: Valparaiso, IN
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Indiana University South Bend; Bachelor of Science in Business, majoring in Marketing and Advertising
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): I’ve spent over the last five years before grad school at Whirlpool Corporation. I started in the Real Whirled Sales Leadership Development Program and was promoted to a Sales Strategy and Operations Analyst before accepting my most recent three roles within the Brand and Shopper Marketing teams.
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
When looking at the backgrounds of people who were in positions that I wanted to work towards, an MBA was a common theme. Business school is a great place to meet new people, learn, and grow and has been a thought in the back of my mind for a couple of years. After conversations with incredibly supportive family, friends, and mentors, I knew it would be something I would regret if I didn’t do, and luckily, life’s timing worked out in my favor.
Why did you choose Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As a marketer, I was immediately drawn to the Notre Dame brand and their mission to “grow the good in business”. As someone who values a strong sense of community, it was amazing for me to hear the way current students, staff, faculty, and alumni spoke about their love for the university and the community around it. The alumni network is arguably unmatched, which was a significant differentiator for me when choosing between other schools.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
In my previous corporate experience, I held a variety of roles in a short amount of time. This included sales, strategy and operations, brand marketing, and shopper marketing from both a digital communications and an in-store perspective. In addition, I am heavily involved in some community organizations and I volunteer. I didn’t realize the scope of all I had learned from these experiences until getting back into the classroom. Now, I use those experiences to quickly relate with my classmates from different backgrounds and connect them with resources they need to be successful.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
Surprisingly, my go-to fun fact of owning a one-legged pet tree frog did make its way into the application… but what didn’t is that I am a huge fan of celebrating half-birthdays (the day that is six months from your usual birthday). I find it to be a silly way to celebrate people more often, so I try to go all out. Half a cake… half a card… but twice as many days in the year to celebrate!
Post-MBA career interests:
I would love to pursue a career in brand management for a marketing-led organization. My goal is to work for a company that makes products I am passionate about, with several brands under their umbrella to learn from.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
My favorite part of Mendoza’s application process was sharing a 4-slide presentation about me. The only guidance the admissions team gave was that we added some personality and didn’t reiterate what was on our resumes. I took full advantage of my 4 slides and shared everything from personality test results to hobbies to photos of my one-legged pet tree frog. Sharing a personal touch made me feel valued as a holistic person outside of just my professional accomplishments.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I wish I spent more time reflecting and narrowing down my passions and interests. I have a long history of being very involved, which is something I love but that also takes a lot of my time. I wish I would have taken more time to be focused on the organizations and values that mattered most to me instead of spreading myself thin – but we are making progress!
Also, I would have loved to spend more time before the program to take it all in and process the steps I was about to take. I “knew” what I was getting myself into and was prepared to be busy, but taking the time to do things like explore campus, research the career paths in more detail, and get to know some of my classmates and professors would have helped the first few weeks feel less like a whirlwind.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Although helpful to learn, I studied for the GMAT for about 1.5 years before applying. Every Monday night I would meet up with a former classmate from undergrad to study. At one point, I realized I was using studying as a way to get out of taking the real GMAT for fear of seeing the results: good or bad. In hindsight, I wish I would have committed more to studying early on and taking the exam quickly. On the bright side, my GMAT study partner – Eduardo Alvarez – is also in the Notre Dame MBA program now, so we must have done something right!
What is your initial impression of the Notre Dame Mendoza students/culture/community?
The community at Notre Dame is everything I heard it would be. There is importance placed on the connections you make and the value of a well-rounded experience. It is clear that alumni are excited to return to campus and help current students (especially around a big football game weekend), and that the students, staff, and faculty truly care about your wellbeing and want to see you succeed.
What is one thing you have learned about Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business that has surprised you?
Before getting to campus, I didn’t expect everyone to be so relatable and collaborative. Although my classmates come from a variety of different backgrounds, countries, belief systems, etc., everyone is down to earth and wants to see other people succeed.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
I am most anxious about the timing of committing to an internship – weighing the benefit of companies with early decision deadlines with those that do “just in time” hiring – and balancing the time invested in class work with networking and my social life. I’m lucky to have a supportive group of friends and family that understands when I need to take time away and accepts me with open arms when I have a chance to catch back up.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
I was pleased to see that the mission of “growing the good in business” holds true inside the classroom and through the passions of my peers. I have met some amazing people that I am confident are going to change the world for the better, so it’s exciting to be surrounded by people that are passionate about the opportunities that lie ahead.