Q&A with a BC Alum: Donald Hall, MBA ’13
Why an MBA?
I was a skier at Penn State as an undergraduate, so after college I moved to northern Vermont to work in ski area management. I got there at just the right time: the resort was growing, so I progressed quickly. After four years I was ready for a new challenge, and I knew I needed an MBA to advance. I moved to Boston, because there are so many great schools here, and managed a hotel for a year before applying to MBA programs.
How did you choose Boston College?
I chose Boston College primarily because of its loyal alumni network and its great reputation. The hotel where I worked hosted alumni from every school in the area, and you could always identify the Boston College grads by their BC sweaters, ties, jackets, and their pride in their school. I knew that belonging to that kind of community would be beneficial, and I didn’t get the same sense of camaraderie from other schools.
What made BC a good place for you?
One of the things I liked best about Boston College was the collaborative spirit. From day one, the professors stressed that business school at BC was not a zero-sum game. Everyone could succeed. My friends who attended other schools didn’t experience anything like that. Ultimately, we learned more together than we would have if we had been competing.
The professors were great, too. They brought a good mix of formal education and real-world experience, and they tied the classroom material back to their experience in the field. It made classes relevant. Also, we were privileged to have frequent guest speakers from different industries. CEOs and other high-level executives from companies of all different sizes and varieties would come in and give us insights from their line of work and their own career paths.
How did you approach your post-MBA job search?
When it came time to find a job, I made extensive use of the Boston College network. Every single person I contacted answered my call, and they were all willing to go to lunch with me. And it paid off: When a relevant job came up in my field, two separate BC alumni told me about it.
One of those alumni worked at the company, so he helped me get my foot in the door. And that’s where the power of networking stopped and the power of my education began. In my interviews and presentations I drew on the skills I learned through the BC MBA, including how to do data analysis, how to write in a business context, and how to present to a group.
BC also gave me the skills to succeed quickly in my first year. In a 2,500-person company, the CEO publicly identified me at an annual meeting as a rising star. In my first two years I was promoted twice. Now, as a senior consultant, I work directly with the upper-level management at some of the world’s largest private equity firms, hedge funds, pension funds, and other investors with $2B or more in assets under management.
What advice would you give an MBA student today?
Get to know your classmates outside of class. What you learn in the classroom is invaluable, of course, but the social experiences are also important. The school is so diverse that you learn about different cultures and how people from different parts of the world see things. As you go into the global workforce, it’s good to have those connections and that perspective.
Also, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone who went to BC. You’re sure to get something out of it. BC continues to be a great network for me—I’m still in touch with my former classmates, and some of them have become lifelong friends.