From Military to Finance, an Austin Scholar’s Leadership Journey
The Austin Scholarship is awarded to a select cohort of high-potential students who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in academic and professional endeavors and show promise of outsized impact at Kellogg, and beyond. We connected with Austin Scholar Thomas Curran (2Y, 2022) to discuss his leadership journey in the military, and how that’s evolved while being at Kellogg.
Can you tell us about your leadership journey prior to Kellogg? How has that journey developed during your time at Kellogg?
I think in many ways my leadership journey was linear prior to Kellogg. As a military officer there was a natural progression of responsibility in thought leadership as well as organizational size and direct reports. This taught me many invaluable lessons, chief among them the importance and skill of delegating properly. However, it was clear to me that indirect influence and peer leadership were processes that I needed to focus my attention on. This, as well as a desire to continue to gain diverse perspectives, led me to Kellogg — where I’ve been thrilled by the quality of both my peers and teachers.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how strong the impact of Kellogg’s focus on collaboration has been on my experience. In a busy academic year and while juggling recruiting, it can be easy to silo yourself and only focus on ticking items off your ‘to do’ list. Kellogg’s emphasis on collaboration has helped me to live out my goals, acting as both follower and peer leader across a wide cross section of academic work.
Tell us about what you did over the summer – how did this experience inform your career and leadership trajectory?
I spent my summer at Lincoln International working in their generalist banking program. Having no prior experience in this sector, or business at all for that matter, I was pleased with the support I received from the Lincoln team as well as the speed with which I could gain a basic grasp of the work, contributing meaningfully to team projects. It was an excellent opportunity to put into practice the knowledge I’d learned in my first year at Kellogg.
From a leadership perspective, the summer provided a great opportunity to practice humility, particularly when working with younger team members who were far more proficient at the tasks than I was. It is easy to forget what causes stress in an organization when you are the decision maker, and the opportunity to hit ‘refresh’ and regain the perspective of a junior member was invaluable. I hope to carry those lessons forward with me.
What does impact mean to you? How do you hope to make your impact after Kellogg?
To me, impact is a daily action that you live out by approaching every day attempting to give more than you receive. As someone who has been blessed with a great many opportunities and mentors, I hope to use what Kellogg has taught me to pass on these blessings.