"I think it’s important for women on the pathway to leadership to be confident in their abilities and contributions to their organizations. There are several ways to build this confidence: through formal and informal education, mentorship, peer support, and the best teacher of them all… practice!"
Leslie Kruempel ’23 is all in. She earned her MBA on the marketing track, studying full-time after 15 years in industry. Her strong career trajectory earned her the prestigious J.D. Power fellowship for women in leadership. Her goal: to position herself for the next level of leadership in business.
College of Business: You spent years in industry before returning for your MBA. What inspired that?
Leslie Kruempel: Yes, I worked in marketing for almost 15 years before returning to school to get my MBA. While I had great advancement and on-the-job learning opportunities in my career, I felt like the types of jobs I was qualified for were narrowing. I wanted to expand my knowledge in other areas of business while also getting a more formal education in marketing which I didn’t have as a non-business-major undergrad. As I reenter the business world after graduation I’m looking forward to applying the things I learned and getting to work in new areas.
COB: You supported your fellow grad students and future grad students as an ambassador. How did you get interested in that?
LK: It was a big decision for me to stop working for a year to pursue my MBA, and talking to graduate student ambassadors in the College of Business really helped me understand the program better and feel confident in my decision. I was very grateful for this help, so when the opportunity came for me to be a graduate student ambassador myself, I was happy to do it. It’s been fun to meet with prospective students and share my experience, and to get to know the other graduate student ambassadors. I’d definitely recommend this opportunity to someone who would like to pass along their knowledge and enthusiasm about the program.
COB: You care very much about expanding opportunities for women in business and earning advanced degrees. What advice can you offer to women about the pathway to leadership?
LK: Yes, I do! I’m grateful to be a recipient of the J.D. Power Fellowship which supports women in the MBA program at OSU who are working to assume a significant leadership role in a company, and the Maureen Leary Brown Scholarship for female MBA students who have demonstrated strong leadership and contributions to their field.
I think it’s important for women on the pathway to leadership to be confident in their abilities and contributions to their organizations. There are several ways to build this confidence: through formal and informal education, mentorship, peer support, and the best teacher of them all… practice! Figuring out ways to draw strength from all these areas and built confidence in your own voice will help you achieve your goals and have more fun along the way.
COB: What are you most proud of regarding your student experience? What was the biggest challenge?
LK: It was intimidating to return to the classroom after 15 years away! So much has changed since then, and I had to get into student mode again. My first term was intense, and I ended up withdrawing from one of my classes which felt like a failure at the time. It was my first finance class (ever) and I knew I needed more time to understand the concepts. I ended up taking the class again the following term and was able to really absorb what I was learning. And I’ve enjoyed and done well in my finance classes since then! It was a good lesson in prioritizing my own needs and values over external measures of success.
COB: Our program offers opportunities for industry research; what was your signature research project?
LK: In the capstone class for the marketing track, we’re serving as consultants on real-world business case. The opportunity emerged from the $10 million USDA grant that was awarded to OSU’s Global Hemp Innovation Center, whose charge is to define economic opportunities for hemp in the western United States. We’re working on business ideas for ‘hempcrete,’ a sustainable and environmentally friendly building material that can be used in new construction and home remodels. It’s a cool way to use what we’ve learned throughout our master’s program to support a university-wide initiative and help entrepreneurs in an emerging market.
COB: Anything to add?
LK: The MBA program has been a very supportive environment, which has made the experience all the more rewarding and fun. I’ve had so many instructors who truly care about providing an excellent education to their students, and who offer support both in and outside of the classroom. My classmates have been lovely, and I appreciate the comradery and support networks we’ve built. It’s rare and special to have an opportunity to learn and grow in such a supportive environment, so I’ve been trying to make the most of it!