In this series, we celebrate the truly impressive and diverse students who recently joined Kellogg’s Evening & Weekend Program. This week, we’re excited to introduce (from left): Chris Riggs (Trader & Business Development, Citadel Securities); Bridget Callaghan (Manager, Good Jobs Institute); and Aaron Young (PRA Model Integration Lead, Bastion Technologies).
What are you most proud of in your professional journey? How did it shape who you are as a leader?
Chris Riggs: Within nine months of working at my current firm, I transitioned to a Business Development position. This role thrust me into a pressurized, client-facing environment with higher stakes than I had experienced up to that point in my professional journey. This experience has challenged me to learn how to leverage the strengths and weaknesses of a diverse team, while making decisions to strategically position the wider company for success.
Bridget Callaghan: My two years of experience on the Starbucks Global Strategy gave me the opportunity to learn the inner-workings of a multi-faceted international consumer business. I am most proud of my whole-hearted dive into that new role far away from my network of family, friends, and mentors. My Starbucks teammates taught by example – through their dedication, ingenuity, and brilliance – shaping me as a leader. Together, we delivered multiple business plans and acted as an incubator for new ideas and operational ways of working at Starbucks.
Aaron Young: I developed a new method for NASA to capture integrated risks that previous methods were unable to do so. This provided me with the confidence that I am capable of providing an impact.
As an incredibly accomplished and very busy professional, why was now the right time to get your MBA? Why was Kellogg the right school?
CR: My 4 years of experience within the financial industry have been extremely rewarding. I am confident that my future career goals involve staying within the financial industry and reaching the highest potential. While my work experience has provided me with an understanding of the trade execution side of the business, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the operational/valuation side of finance. The curriculum at Kellogg will provide me with a more well-rounded understanding. Additionally, I wanted to leverage the multi-disciplinary experiences of my peers and work in a collaborative environment. Kellogg’s inclusive and collaborative culture along with its “High Impact, Low Ego” nature made it an easy choice for me.
BC: My five years of full-time professional experience have given me the chance to learn from so many intelligent people who are applying their skills across industries and geographies. Now, it’s my job to take these learnings forward and continue to develop myself. I feel compelled to pursue my MBA because I believe this experience will make me a more well-rounded professional. Kellogg was an easy choice. My long-term career interests are at the intersection of Strategy, Ops and Marketing, subject areas in which Kellogg leads the pack. Furthermore, Kellogg has the programming I need. Living and working full-time in Washington, D.C., I found a perfect fit in the Kellogg Weekend Program.
AY: In my current role as an engineer, I can see a ceiling in my career growth if I remain on the same path. Therefore, I chose to pursue an MBA with Kellogg for two reasons: 1) to shift into a new role that provides greater opportunities, and 2) Kellogg’s focus on leadership and the soft skills compliment my quantitative heavy background well.
Bridget, you made a recent pivot in your career. Can you share what drove you to make this pivot? Any advice for those looking to make a pivot or significant change in their career?
BC: In 2019, I pivoted from a public Fortune 200 with 5,000 employees at HQ – Starbucks – to a small nonprofit. After starting my career at JPMorgan Chase & Co., I wanted to be exposed to a small, medium, and large company. I felt this would give me the ability to be a strong generalist and position me to decide which skills to develop most deeply. As you try to navigate your career, seek to be a part of teams that energize you and do work you feel connected to.
In your short time at Kellogg, how has your experience so far impacted your professional and/or personal growth?
CR: I have already seen a positive impact on both my personal and professional development. My classroom experience, specifically classes like MORS 430, has allowed me to gain a broader perspective on various forms of leadership. My classmates come from diverse backgrounds in terms of functional and industry knowledge. Being able to learn about the various challenges they face and how they manage those challenges has given me extra tools in my toolkit with which I can approach my work. I have also witnessed a very inclusive environment, where people feel comfortable reaching out to each other to dialogue about anything. Whether through Slack, Zoom, or “virtual coffee sessions”, I have been able to have have one-on-one conversations with a number of my colleagues.
BC: Being back in the classroom is so fun. I wondered how well I’d be able to manage this added responsibility, still finding time for work, family, etc., but it has been a great transition. My group project experience has been a highlight of my time at Kellogg. Working with my teammates, we all add unique perspective and experience; these differences helped us create our best collective approach.
AY: I came into Kellogg thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do following my MBA, but after attending CIM, classes, and the CMC workshops, it’s become obvious that there is a wide range of previously unknown opportunities that now feel accessible and I couldn’t be more excited about the future. In addition to meeting faculty and professors, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a lot of great people in my short time at Kellogg and look forward to building on those friendships and seeing what they go on to accomplish in the years to come.
COVID-19 has changed how we learn, engage and grow. What have you learned or gained –that you might not have otherwise – during this time?
CR: Interestingly, COVID has strengthened my relationships. The inability for face-to-face interaction has forced me to be more intentional about managing my networks and savoring the quality time I have with friends, family, peers. etc. I have seen this play out during my time at Kellogg. Although we’ve yet to meet in person, our cohort has already bonded!
BC: COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of adaptability. And we are all being reminded of the value of moving quickly to adjust to new circumstances. As a student, I can see Kellogg’s commitment to carrying out its mission. Executing a world class education in new context, flexing to deliver the same quality of learning through virtual classrooms on Zoom – it’s incredible and is proof that resilience wins. COVID has given me a new appreciation for my professors, education, and honestly operations. The work that happens behind the scenes to make it all happen deserves more recognition.
AY: While there is no substitute for the in-person experience, there are several advantages that I believe we have discovered during this this virtual format we find ourselves in. The biggest one for me is that with the classes being recorded, I am now more present in class than during my undergrad. In the past, I have found myself balancing taking notes through class and then catching up with the discussion. Now, I can focus on the class in the moment and actively participate in the conversation and if there’s something that I want to go into greater detail in after class, I just pull up the recording on demand on a particular topic. For me, this has greatly improved my experience and I hope that even after we return to class, having class recordings becomes the norm.