Club Spotlight: The Middle East & North Africa Club
Your MBA journey at Kellogg stretches beyond the classroom. Our students are leaders who create communities based on shared social and cultural values and interests as well as industries and geography. The Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Club is celebrating its first year on campus, and they're excited to share more about who they are, what brought them together and how being involved in student life has enriched their MBA experience.
Why did you choose to pursue an MBA, and what about Kellogg appealed to you the most?
Maddie Chivi '22 (2Y): I chose to pursue my MBA for two reasons. I wanted to further my career, however, I also wanted to revisit skills I had not utilized in my seven-year pre-MBA career. After evaluating my future career goals, and studying the career paths of executives I admired, I knew an MBA was the right career choice. I knew Kellogg was right for me for two reasons. I have always wanted to live in Chicago and the inclusive emotionally intelligent Kellogg cohort felt right for me. Similarly, after speaking with several current students and alumni, I noticed an unparalleled difference in the network Kellogg offers. The level of engagement, even for those who have graduated several years ago, was far higher than at other universities. Kellogg provided the career, network, and social environment I was looking for.
Has anything surprised you since you started the program?
Maddy Landon '23 (2Y): The best and most surprising part of Kellogg has been connecting with people from all over the world. I remember stepping into the hub for Taste of Kellogg, an event where regional groups cook traditional dishes for the whole school, in the Fall, and being completely awed by the generosity and openness of my classmates. Many had spent days coordinating food and were eager to share with the Kellogg community. From KSAC’s Holi event to MENA’s dabke class, students take on an incredible amount of work to create spaces of cultural learning and celebration for one another.
What’s the culture and community like at Kellogg, and do you feel being involved outside the classroom has helped you throughout your MBA journey?
Natasha Catrakilis '23 (2Y): Kellogg has a very welcoming community. You’re surrounded by so many amazing people with interesting and diverse backgrounds. We all want to get to know one another, but time is of the essence. Hence why we’re big on the “coffee chat” culture + sending calendar invites for just about everything. As a whole, we are known for being extroverts, but even for introverts like myself, there are so many opportunities to get to know others in a more intimate small group setting. Being involved outside the classroom is, in my opinion, what the MBA experience is all about. I truly believe that’s where the most important relationships form. It is these experiences that will help shape you into a better leader. That being said, it is important to push yourself outside your comfort zone and not only join the groups/clubs you feel most closely aligned with -- that’s when true growth happens. Hence my excitement to be part of the MENA executive board even though technically I don’t personally identify with the region.
What tips would you give to students when it comes to striking a balance between managing the academic rigor at Kellogg and social activities?
Aditya Yadav '23 (2Y): The primary advice I would give to incoming students is that they should evaluate what they want from their Kellogg experience in terms of academics and connections and then set a goal. It is very easy to be swept away by all the social activities and still end up not forming the connections you would have initially wanted. Although perfect grades don't matter, knowledge surely does. Therefore, a deliberate effort in learning from the world-class faculty and your accomplished peers should be a priority for the typical MBA candidate.
The Middle East and North Africa Club is a new club on campus. Can you share more about the club’s background?
Katia Tamer '23 (2Y): The Middle East North Africa Club is coming up on its first year of existence. Having formed last year, its purpose is to create a home for community members, a learning environment for allies to learn about the rich history of the various cultures that make up MENA, and a space for all to have a good time! To date, we’ve had small group dinners, trivia night, backgammon lessons and a storytelling series. The highlight has definitely been our first weeklong event series in which we’ve had dance lessons, a movie night, Hear My Story, and a Friday event with the whole school in which we had snacks and music from the region. We are also working on initiatives with the administration to help build a pipeline for more students from the region to come to Kellogg. Don’t let our new small group status fool you – we are a dedicated and passionate group!
How does MENA complement the school’s social fabric?
Maddie: MENA adds to and fills a gap in the social fabric at Kellogg. The social fabric at Kellogg relies on our student body's passion for culture and inclusivity. MENA introduces a space for Middle Eastern & North African students who have a passion for their culture. Kellogg is known for its welcoming and emotionally, intelligent driven MBA program that brings together people from various backgrounds, industries, cultures and experiences. With the Middle Eastern and North Africa club we embrace this philosophy even more. Introducing MENA encourages students to explore MENA in addition to the vast cultural and affinity presences that make up our social fabric here at Kellogg. MENA has formalized a home for the student body who identifies as MENA; a home that welcomes all students at Kellogg to learn about MENA.Meet MENA's club members
Maddy Landon '23 (2Y), VP Allyship
Maddy is a product manager from Houston, Texas who is passionate about the elder tech space. She is grateful to be a part of the MENA team next year and to work on promoting allyship and learning in the Kellogg community.
Natasha Catrakilis '23 (2Y), VP of Marketing
Before Kellogg, Natasha worked in her family business in tax and accounting with a focus on business development. Realizing her passion for connecting with consumers, she enrolled at Kellogg to pursue a major in marketing. Currently, she's interning for KORRES, a beauty/skincare brand and working on building her own e-commerce lifestyle brand called LXS. It is inspired by her Greek heritage.
Katia Tamer '23 (2Y), Co-President
Katia is pursuing entrepreneurship at Kellogg. She is co-founder and CEO of Chaya, a startup focused on providing holistic wellness services. Prior to her MBA, Katia was a Product Marketing Manager at Google. She also co-founded The Beirut Project, in which she and the team raised over $250K for the NGO SEAL (Social Economic Action for Lebanon) and is now on the Junior Associate Board.
Mani Tayebi '23 (2Y), Co-President
Before pursuing his MBA, Mani was in Canada where he co-founded and led CIBC’s Incubator X team. Prior to Incubator X, Mani helped clients in cosmetics and biopharmaceutical industries bring novel products to market, from cosmetic creams to anti-nerve agent vaccines. Earlier in life and before immigrating from Tehran in 2010, Mani pursued music professionally.
Aditya Yadav '23 (2Y), VP of Finance
Before Kellogg, Aditya graduated as an engineer who helped clients drill oil wells in India, China and UAE later pivoting to advising a Fortune-5 CPG firm on automating operations leveraging technology. Aditya is pursuing a career at the intersection of climate tech and PE via management consulting. Aditya played water polo in his undergrad and loves water, music and dogs amongst other things.
Maddie Chivi '22 (2Y) Outgoing Co-PresidentGraduating this Spring, Maddie is an MBA Poet. Prior to Kellogg, she spent seven years in New York City working in marketing for Luxury Goods. At Kellogg, she’s had the opportunity to experience a variety of industries from Ag Tech to FiberOptics to Retail Tech. As a first-generation Cuban Lebanese American and one of the co-founders of MENA, Maddie has had the opportunity to enjoy the vast diversity represented by the student body at Kellogg. She is moving to Boston to work as a Senior Category Manager at Wayfair after graduation.