2021 MBAs To Watch: Nicole Streifert, Texas A&M (Mays)

Thoughtful, innovative, hungry. Passionate about advancing women’s equality in the workplace and society.”

Hometown: Saugus, MA

Fun fact about yourself: My travel goal is to visit all the Caribbean islands in my lifetime. I’ve visited five islands in the past four years and hope to resume travel with a trip to Grenada as the next island on my list.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Texas Christian University, Supply Chain Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PureWrx, Supply Chain Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Microsoft (Business Applications), Remote

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft (Strategy Manager, Business Applications)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Community Work:

  1. Advised the Center for Pursuit, a Houston-based nonprofit focused on providing employment to individuals in the community with intellectual disabilities, on strategic local real estate investments.

Leadership Roles:

  1. Team Leader, Capstone Consulting Project: Led client interaction, market analysis, and strategic recommendations for Fortune 1000 company expanding into a new vertical. Received first place and the Krajicek Award for Best Presentation.
  2. Katz Invitational Case Competition: Selected for a team of four students to provide recommendations on the future of electrification in the aerospace industry and to identify ways to enter the electrification market. Received second place and Best Presenter award.

Other Honors:

  1. Bala Shetty Inaugural MBA Scholar Award: Awarded to the top four students in the class based on academic achievement.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was the Katz Invitational Case Competition team I was a part of. Our team worked to learn about a topic that we previously had no knowledge about (aircraft electrification), and came to smart, thoughtful, and realistic business recommendations in just the two short weeks that we had the case prompt. We also had a lot of fun working on the project, which reminded me that having fun and achieving a high-quality outcome do not have to be mutually exclusive. In the end, we took home second place overall at the competition, but we walked away with the Best Presenter and Best Q&A Performance awards out of a very impressive group of competitive MBA students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Growing up as a New England Patriots fan, in true Tom Brady fashion, I believe my proudest professional achievement is my next one. And I’m most excited about what lies ahead of me in my career. However, if I look back at one experience that stands out, it would be leading the launch of new automated procurement tools to an organization of over 500 users. The project tested and grew my project management, change management, and launch toolkit, while also enabling me to be a part of larger technological innovation happening at the company. In the end, the project saved 25% in labor costs, reduced purchase order cycle time by three days, and improved compliance for the organization.

This experience was my first taste of what digital transformation could look like and it inspired my return to the technology world today where I look forward to playing a central role in this next exciting wave.

Why did you choose this business school? Texas A&M checked a lot of the boxes I was looking for in a business school. The class experience during my visit to campus was impressive, along with the unmatched ROI in Texas and the option to complete the program in 18 months, all played into my decision. However, the real deciding factor was the small class size.

The networking aspect of joining an MBA program was just as important to me as the class material. With a small class size, I knew everyone in the program on a personal level within the first semester. To me, it was more important to be in a program with 60 students who could speak to each other’s individual accomplishments and development throughout the program, rather than a class with hundreds of students that I would be unlikely to meet everyone. However, even with the small class size, Texas A&M still represents one of the largest university alumni associations in the world and provided valuable connections during the career search process.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Cynthia Devers, our strategy professor, had a transformative impact on the way I think through business decisions every day. Coming from a background in operations, I previously placed a lot of emphasis on efficiency, cost savings, and process. But after just the very first strategy class, I realized I was overlooking the bigger picture in a lot of cases. Dr. Devers has a gift of explaining large, abstract concepts in a way that was attainable and applicable in an entry-level strategy class.

Additionally, through COVID-19 and many of our remote internships, she took the time to check in with each of us on a personal level, and she was always one of the professors to make time for us to discuss strategy questions outside of class time. Dr. Devers’s commitment to our learning, especially during the difficult transition many of us were facing due to COVID, was instrumental in maintaining our class morale and academic experience through the disruption.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I truly believe that the most important part of business school is learning who you are as a leader. A lot of that comes from making mistakes in this low-stakes environment, being honest about them, and learning how to move forward. Knowing that, I do not believe I could change anything that I did in the program and be where I am today. However, if I look back at my learnings during the experience, I will say the biggest one is that no one person in the room ever has the best answer.

In my highest performing teams, our solutions always came from a combination of everyone’s ideas and contributions. And in order to get to that, it is important that everyone on the team understands this and is willing to listen. If not everyone is listening, the team synergies can break, and there are opportunities left on the table.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?

I believe I had a unique combination of prior experience before entering the program that contributed to my acceptance. With large tech and startup experience, I had built up professional learnings in both settings that I could apply and share in the classroom. I had knowledge of large-scale corporate processes and driving change through cross functional teams in a matrix organization. But then I also had experience taking ownership of building new processes at the startup level which exposed me to many areas of the business that I would not have had the opportunity to see at a larger corporation. Overall, this gave me the ability to look at business cases from multiple perspectives.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jiashan Lang. I had the honor of working with Jiashan in my first semester team and her drive and passion made me work harder every day. She did whatever it took to not only learn the material in each class, but truly master and apply it. She asks thoughtful questions that help to deepen everyone’s understanding of the topics.

She came into the program laser focused on pivoting to a career in product management, which is exactly what she is doing now. She became the class expert on all things marketing, especially marketing analytics, and always took the time to help other students whenever asked. As a person, Jiashan became an integral part of our class, always taking the time to ask how others were doing. She managed all of this while continuing to run her very successful art gallery business, hosting multiple art shows throughout our time…

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