Kellogg Leaders in Action: How being selfless can help set you apart
What makes Kellogg unique? In a rapidly changing world, we provide our students with fertile soil for fruitful leadership. Our students are planting seeds to become the leaders of tomorrow, and our community supports and challenges their growth. Whether in the classroom or through global opportunities, our MBA programs sharpen analytical skills while fostering creativity and social intelligence.
Our “Kellogg Leaders in Action” series highlights adaptive, empathetic leaders who are changing the global business landscape.
Meet Jessica Schultheis ’12 MBA, a product manager at Meta, who enjoys working with others to improve overall wellness on the critical issue of mental health and says her time at Kellogg set her up for success and made her realize the value of being a part of something bigger than herself. Learn more about her MBA experience at Kellogg below.
Why do you think it’s so easy to pick Kellogg alumni out of the crowd?
We learn how to put the group first before our own interests and therefore serve our team. This kind of approach is not very common in the business world — people are often looking to improve their own status. But Kellogg alumni are much more oriented toward the wellbeing of the larger interests that they serve whether that be a purpose, a team, a group or someone they manage or mentor.
What do you think it means to be a Kellogg Leader?
Kellogg Leaders are selfless and focused on the betterment of the whole. I think it’s important to identify what your interests are. For me, it’s social impact. I’m working in mental health right now, and I serve the interests of people globally who are faced with various mental health conditions. But whether your interests are finance and improving the health and strategy of a bank or starting an entrepreneurial venture, I think it’s about how you identify your interests and then build a team around that in a very giving way to achieve the outcomes you want.
Can you discuss how you’ve seen Kellogg’s unique leadership style embodied in what your fellow classmates have gone on to do as alumni?
One of the leadership skills that I see among other Kellogg graduates is the ability to get people behind a specific idea that you want to support. And that is something I do every single day in my job as a product manager. I’m rallying people behind an idea, a project or a strategy that I want to move forward. The resilience of some of my classmates, especially those who have gone out and worked in intense careers or in entrepreneurship, is really impressive. They have the ability to bring others along for that journey, but when that journey ends, they find another path or another opportunity and another team to build that new vision with.
Is there a specific learning experience, be it a class, a project, a program at Kellogg that you still think about and still refer to today in your role?
Negotiations was among the best classes I took at Kellogg. In business settings, most things are some type of negotiation, especially if you’re in a leadership role where you’re making tradeoffs and discussing how you want to build a path for your team.
Knowing how to achieve the best outcome is important—both for building relationships and for getting work done. It’s about finding opportunities to understand what the other person really values and cares about so that you can actually come into an agreement that’s beneficial to everyone.
If you could think back to when you were your younger self considering going to business school, what advice now would you give yourself back then?
If I could go back and give myself advice I would have told myself to spend less time weighing my options and make a decision about coming to Kellogg even faster. This is a place that builds relationships as well as academic understanding — that’s something that I was really looking for and found when I was at Kellogg.
What does it mean to you as an alumnus to be part of this incredible Kellogg alumni community?
This is not just an alumni community to me — these are my lifelong friends. I don’t think that I spend a single day without talking to someone from Kellogg who I met along the journey. That’s such a special gift to have an amazing network of people who not only have incredible insights and can support me in my professional journey, but who are also my closest friends. When I was at Kellogg, I really wanted to focus on social impact and find professional opportunities in that area.
Can you discuss the relationships you formed with your classmates and bonds that were important to you?
I connected with a classmate Hannah Gay ’12 MBA who was also interested in that career path. It was great knowing someone who was aligned with my interests — someone I could spend time with thinking through course opportunities, extracurriculars, internships and career searches. We really encouraged each other even though we weren’t necessarily looking for the same jobs.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
When I was a student, it sometimes felt intimidating to explore pathways that were not as common but I’m glad I did that. I found professors, classes and opportunities to piece together this experience that was meaningful to me. I would encourage future students to do the same thing because you really can carve your own path. It takes some grit and determination, but it can be a very rich experience.
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