Kelley Student Test Drives Career In Finance At Harley-Davidson

Johnny Walsh tests out a Harley-Davidson during his internship in Milwaukee with the motor company. Courtesy photo


Without a doubt Walsh’s time at Harley-Davidson has afforded him plenty of heavy weight, high-profile experiences for someone who’s only completed one year of business school: working on strategy, sitting amongst the CEO, flying between the corporation’s headquarters in Milwaukee and financial services office in Chicago.

Thanks to his interests in finance dating back to high school, he had somewhat of a head start. “Learning about investment banking sophomore year of high school, it intrigued me to work with high-profile companies and to have a hand in some of the biggest deals in terms of mergers and acquisitions,” Walsh says. “That excited me and interested me and became what I wanted to do.”

Initially, investment banking was the career route he wanted to take so he immediately immersed himself in Kelley’s investment banking club when he arrived on Indiana’s Bloomington campus. “I knew it was my goal to get started early because it’s so competitive these days,” says Walsh. “You need to stand out.”

With this in mind, he also got started on potential internship opportunities very early in his college career. “I thought, maybe I can get into a small startup or investment bank. I spoke to a couple different people, but there wasn’t much going through.” Ultimately, it was a connection through a family friend that introduced him to the opportunity at Harley-Davidson and that contact encouraged him to apply.  

“I applied near the end of 2017 or the start of 2018 by submitting my application and resume,” Walsh explains. “The first step was a phone interview for 20 or 30 minutes with a member from HR and then, because I was in Bloomington, I had a Skype interview with two managers in the GIS department — one whom I sit across from every single day. If you’re closer, they bring you in to interview at their headquarters. After the Skype interview, it was a pretty quick turnaround. Later that day, I got a phone call from the HR representative saying I had the job.”

Walsh was presented with an offer letter with a one week window to accept. “It was a really quick turnaround. I was surprised by it, but glad I didn’t have to wait.”

Johnny Walsh says a business analytics class he took his first year at Indiana Kelley helped prepare him for his summer internship at Harley-Davidson. Courtesy photo.

Looking back on it all, Walsh says although he wanted to get started early, little did he know he’d land at a well-known, well-respected company like Harley-Davidson.


Walsh attributes his success at the company to the preparation he’s received at Kelley. “I think the great thing about Kelley is they get you started in business classes right away; not Gen Eds,” he says. “Those are still really important, and they help with problem solving, but having the true knowledge of how a business works has been really great.”

Walsh also highlights the business analytics class he took during his freshman year. “I noticed that helped me a lot,” he acknowledges. “Many of the files I work with are Excel-based. I can help my manager and people across the company and walk them through what’s going on with a file or how to make it more efficient. That’s been great.”

Finally, Walsh says it’s the overall business knowledge that he’s picked up so far in B-school that’s given him a voice to use during his internship. “I have a very basic level of knowledge that Kelley has provided in my first year. Coming into these leadership meetings, I have an opinion and a voice I think people respect because of my background at a top business school.”

As he gets ready to wrap up the summer internship experience and return to Kelley for his second year, Poets&Quants asks Walsh if he hopes to extend his relationship with Harley-Davidson. “Obviously, I’d love to come back to this company. It’s been a great experience. If they’re willing to have me back, I’d be willing to come back next year. I really like the people I’m working with.”  

As far as his interest in investment banking goes, “That’s still looking like a career path I’m considering, but the culture here at Harley-Davidson has definitely caused me to think a little bit. Investment banking would be really cool, but I would say, right now, I’m thinking about something different in finance.”


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