Stephanie Horn, Master Consultant, is an MBA graduate with honors from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She focused her field of study on Management and Study during her time at Kellogg. Immediately after business school, Stephanie was a senior associate at McKinsey & Co., advising technology and service clients on competitive strategies.
In addition to helping MBA hopefuls apply to their dream MBA programs, she is instrumental in mentoring MBA candidates and business professionals on how to land a powerhouse consulting job. She is the co-founder of the Consulting Career Academy here at The MBA Exchange.
Stephanie earned a master’s degree in English and a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Bucknell University, where she was a recipient of the Mellon Foundation Fellowship. In addition to mentoring and helping others find their paths professionally, she loves classical art and leads student tours of the Getty Villa collection in Los Angeles, CA.
Let’s get to know Stephanie a little better:
You were an MBA student yourself. How did you go about choosing the business school you attended?
First, I looked at the curriculum. I knew I had certain strengths and weaknesses. I chose Kellogg because they were flexible in letting me waive out of the intro courses where I already had a knowledge base, freeing me to take more electives in areas that I didn’t know as well. Second, cultural fit was key. I wanted to be comfortable – a place where everyone was striving to do their best, but weren’t necessarily trying to score points over their classmates. Kellogg’s collaborative culture strongly appealed to me.
What prompted you to pursue an MBA in the first place?
I had mentors for the early years of my career, but after five years I realized that I needed more – that there were holes in my knowledge that would hold me back from reaching my goals. I recognized that an MBA would fill those gaps for me.
What was the biggest surprise you encountered at business school?
Business school was the most inclusive environment I had ever experienced. I was used to being the only woman in the room – now, each team was half female, and women naturally spoke up and took charge. I made friends from people around the world. Everyone was interested in the work and had an opinion, but just as importantly, we all respected what each other had to say. While there was still work to be done to increase the number of students of color, there was more diversity and camaraderie among people from different backgrounds than I had experienced in college or any prior work environment.
What did you enjoy most about reviewing MBA applications and interviewing applicants?
I love the excitement when something clicks for the applicant. I work with a lot of clients who come with challenges – scientists who struggle to explain their work to an average audience, people who have been rejected by schools and are trying to understand what went wrong and what to change, people from other cultures who can’t understand why the US schools are so hung up on extracurricular activities – when we get that ‘aha!’ moment and really clarify what is most significant about their past, what is most exciting about their future goals – that is the best part.
What was the most challenging aspect of evaluating MBA candidacies?
When evaluating candidates for Kellogg, I would have to assign a numeric grade on a number of attributes. For example, most schools want candidates who are comfortable working with people from different countries and backgrounds. If a candidate didn’t present any information about these experiences, such as working for international clients, being part of a global team, even studying abroad in college, I would have to give that candidate a “0”. I always wondered if the candidate truly lacked that experience, or just didn’t know that they should have provided it. Knowing that a candidate might be rejected because of a flaw in how they presented themselves, instead of a real lack of experience, was the most challenging aspect of evaluating candidates.
What application do you think is the most challenging for candidates?
I think MIT is the hardest because in some ways it looks so easy. Clients will be pleased that there is only one essay required, with a limit of 300 words. It is much harder to write a powerful 300 word essay than a 500 word essay.
Who was your most memorable client and why?
I’ve had so many amazing clients. Recently, I worked with a reapplicant. He was an engineer with a strong career in Aerospace. However, while he could explain the innovations he developed to create cutting-edge technologies, he struggled to talk about leading others, participating in teams, etc. His life was primarily his work and he didn’t have many connections with others. We started working together in January for R1 deadlines, and I challenged him to find an activity to do. He told me he couldn’t, because of the pandemic. I responded that the pandemic meant there was more need than ever for people to help. He started volunteering at a food bank. He quickly found that he loved it, and became a key part of the organization, managing the truck route to pick up the donations, helping clients get the food they needed, training other volunteers. The head of the food bank became one of his recommenders. His applications were able to showcase more of his personality, his challenges, and his goals and he was accepted into his first-choice school.
Which three words best describe your approach to admissions consulting?
Honest, strategic, empathetic