Dustin Saunders, director of admissions for Kellogg’s Executive MBA Program, led a panel discussion with students on bringing their diverse range of professional backgrounds and identities to their application process and Kellogg journey.
The students included: Edsel ‘Gigi’ Gallay (EMBA 2022), director of Market Access at Flexion Therapeutics; Perry Flemming (EMBA 2021), head of Credit, Wealth and Health Equity at Experian; and Michelle Williams (EMBA 21), executive director at Fintech in Action.
Dustin: How did you use the application to tell your unique story?
Perry: “When I applied to Kellogg I was transparent about the survivor remorse I experienced after the 2008 Mortgage Crisis. In the essay, I elaborated on my career progression as well as the specific gaps I wanted to address via the Kellogg program to advance in my career. I also shared that I wanted the Financial Services Industry to do more to help minorities and women close the wealth gap. Since I started my EMBA journey, I have been promoted at Experian to lead a COVID 19 Financial Crisis initiative and appointed to be the Chair of Economic Empowerment for the 100 Black Men of Washington DC.”
Michelle: “After I filled out the application and actually spoke to admissions, I just stopped in the process because I started getting imposter syndrome. I’m sure other people have the same reservations…you are looking at your background, you are looking at your resume saying ‘I can’t sit in the room with these executives…’ Yeah, you can. The admissions office helped me push past that imposter syndrome.
The interesting thing about Kellogg’s culture is as much as you choose the school, they also choose you. It’s a collaborative, diverse program that actually seeks out individuality and authenticity.”
Gigi: “The process of joining Kellogg was very therapeutic for me. Kellogg asks an applicant what kind of contributor you are going to be, so I dove down to reflect on my life-story in terms of my core values of tenacity and resilience. Through the application-and-interview process, I learned about myself and grew.
Dustin: As students, how has Kellogg supported you to continue to be your authentic self?
Gigi: “The quality of relationships that you build quickly is just incredible — it gives me chills, this kind of trusting bond. It’s rare, rich and empowering. I call my cohort, my family. They are talented, accomplished, yet humble. Together we are so collaborative and inclusive. Everybody has each other’s back.”
Michelle: “There is a lot of concentrated time with the cohort, it really does become a family. The relationships that you build are a bond like no other. During our virtual graduation, most of us couldn’t stop crying. The culture that Kellogg creates — high-impact and low-ego — really does permeate throughout the ways in which leadership is taught, the ways in which leadership responds to our questions.”
Perry: “I love the low-ego part. You are not going to be an expert in everything. We all have our different skill sets; you have to lean on each other in order to get what you need out of the program. Regardless of where you are with your family, professional career, there is a place where you can fit here at Kellogg and meet your needs and grow as a leader.”
Dustin: “Thank you for sharing your stories today, I hope they can inspire others as they approach their applications moving forward. We take a holistic view of each and every one of our candidates. We want to know that you understand what you are looking to improve upon, you don’t have to hide from it. Lean into it, talk about your plan to grow.”