Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2007Kellogg School of Management
FeaturesBrand NewsFaculty NewsAlumni ProfilesClass NotesClub NewsArchivesContactKellogg Home
Neal Freeland '02

Wade Fetzer '61

Jill Gordon '80
Brent McKim '93

Julia Flynn Siler '93

Rafael Carreira '94
Subimo team: Heilman '95, Fiacco '86, Shevock '95
Brand brings them together: Kellogg-Recanati
Alumni in the News
Address Update
Alumni Home
Submit News
Internal Site
Northwestern University
Kellogg Search
Brent McKim
Brent McKim '93

On the beat with a gun, a badge ... and an MBA?

Brent McKim '93 takes due diligence to new levels by rooting out crime as one of San Jose's finest

By Rebecca Lindell

Busting drug dealers. Arresting drunk drivers. Investigating homicides.

Brent McKim '93 has found some unexpected new applications for his Kellogg MBA.

"It is a great job — every day you go out and it's different," says McKim, a rookie cop on the San Jose, Calif., police department.

McKim's workdays used to be a lot more predictable. Four years ago, he was a vice president of product marketing and business development at Open Harbor Inc. He enjoyed stock options, a six-figure salary and all the perks that accompany the classic MBA career.

He also endured a killer commute and frequent business travel that ate deeply into his home life. His wife, Janice Austin McKim '94, was pursuing her own career as a chief financial officer for a San Jose company. The two enjoyed all the trappings of success, but the long hours were taking a toll.

"Our kids were 2 and 4, my wife was working as a CFO and I was driving 40 miles to work each day," he recalls. "It was ugly. We were picking the kids up after work and they'd fall asleep in the car. We would put them to bed and talk to them while they slept: 'How was your day?'"

Brent decided to take a two-year sabbatical to bond with his children, while Janice became the family's sole breadwinner. They agreed that she would take her turn at home once Brent returned to the workforce.

McKim spent the next two years as a stay-at-home dad, shuttling his sons to the playground and preschool. He also pondered his next career move.

"The opportunity cost was going to be time with my kids, so the bar was a lot higher than if I had been leaving a business position," McKim says. "I wanted something more community-oriented than I had been doing before."

McKim had a few relatives who worked in law enforcement, one of whom spoke of the "fun" of police work. A previously unimaginable idea — that he could become a cop at mid-life — began to take root.

The Kellogg alum performed his due diligence, interviewing veteran police officers about their work. Riding with them on their beats, McKim was struck by the job's spontaneity and challenge.

"They'd say, 'What are you doing? You've got an MBA, you're making good money,'" McKim recalls the officers asking. "'Why would you want to become a cop?'

"But when I asked them if they wished they had done something different with their lives, none of them said yes," says McKim. He took note, and decided to apply to the San Jose Police Academy.

At 40, he became the academy's oldest student, and the top-ranking graduate in his class.

Now McKim works the night shift, trolling San Jose for bad guys while the city sleeps. He's home during the day to take his sons to soccer practice and have dinner with his family. He says he's happier than he's ever been.

"I really enjoy the problem-solving and the strategizing," he says. "My favorite thing is to catch a criminal who is walking or driving on the street, not thinking he was going to be caught that day. Basically, I like to hunt."

McKim's business training has been an asset in his new career, says Sgt. Steve McEwen, a former supervisor. He describes McKim as "balanced, mature and intelligent."

"Often we have to make split-second decisions, and Brent is someone who will get people to talk and relax," McEwan says. "He has a calming effect both on his colleagues and people on the scene."

McKim credits his Kellogg training in teamwork and communication with helping to build that composure. He knows his MBA will be a useful credential as he advances through the police department ranks.

"My goals are now to stay safe, get to know the department, learn about what opportunities I might enjoy down the road, and to try to learn something new every day," he says.

Current Student News & Events
View all current news
Subscribe to Kellogg News RSS
©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University