Kellogg’s 2014 McGowan Fellow applies sports lessons to aid in KenyaBy Sonali Basak
Tyler Barrack '14 believes sports management could profoundly impact communities. This idea is what earned him a 2014 McGowan Fellowship.
The McGowan Fellowship is offered yearly to one second-year student in each of 10 MBA partner programs, including Kellogg. It includes a full year of tuition for a student in the top 5 percent of the class with proven leadership ability.
“We’re often taught to think global but act local," Barrack said. But in answering the McGowan essay on challenges facing business leaders today, he said, "We're pretty good at thinking globally, but not as good at acting locally."
This fuels his passion for sports management.
"There are not many forces in a community that are more powerful, more unifying, than a professional sports team,” he said.
Growing up in Canada playing hockey inspired Barrack’s passion, along with his move to Chicago seeing strangers connect over the Bears or Blackhawks. He’s also inspired from working with the Cubs development department this summer. His focus on improving Wrigleyville parking exhibited a large impact on fan experiences and the neighborhood.
"I just loved being around the community and part of something bigger than myself," Barrack said. "To me, that’s what sports represented.”
Sports aren’t the only medium motivating Barrack to act locally. During undergrad, he cofounded an NGO to build water wells in Kenya by engaging local communities. Then while working with Boston Consulting Group after college, he helped BCG partner with a non-profit to match at-risk youth to professionals across industries.
"I think it takes a lot of very passionate people to impact a community," Barrack said. "I’ve never done any of these experiences on my own. They’ve always been part of a broader team."
Barrack said so far, he’s seen community commitment among McGowan fellows “similarly motivated by making a positive difference in a variety of different fields” from nonprofit work to for-profit businesses.
And the McGowan community is “a powerful network in addition to his Kellogg network," said Senior Associate Dean Michael Fishman, who leads Kellogg’s McGowan Fellow search.
Barrack agreed, saying he hopes to bring leadership back to his new Chicago home. He will return to BCG’s Chicago office post-Kellogg, and his long-term goal is returning to sports while exploring directions his interests might take him.
Whatever direction that is, he said, “There will be some connection to the community.”