2017 Best & Brightest: Steven Kelly, University of Wisconsin

Steven Kelly

Wisconsin School of Business

“The composing of Beethoven’s 9th is nothing compared to the composing of my tweets.”

Fun fact about yourself: I know every line in the movie The Breakfast Club.

Hometown: DeForest, WI

High School: DeForest High School

Majors: Finance; Political Science

Favorite Business Courses: Fixed Income Securities; Derivative Securities

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Compass Facilitator – In this role I taught the required one-credit course for new business students that exposes them to the “soft skills” of business—ranging from interview skills to inclusive leadership.
  • Writer for The Huffington Post – I write for The Huffington Post on issues in global finance, central banking, and political economy.
  • Co-Founder of The Hannah Fund – an organization designed to facilitate local fundraisers and support local families with young adults that are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Risk Management and Insurance Society
  • European Horizons – A think-tank of professors, students, and European policymakers.
  • Wisconsin DECA Volunteer Judge; Recipient of the Wisconsin DECA 2016 Alumni Excellence Award
  • Dean’s List

Where have you interned during your college career? Kimberly-Clark Corporation – Neenah, WI – Global Risk Management Intern: In this role, I worked on macroeconomic capital structure risk analysis, Kimberly-Clark’s response to “Brexit”, country risk reports to be used for fixed investment decisions, and other risk management projects.

Describe your dream Job: My dream job would be to teach at a world-class university, do research there, set my own hours, and also drive the Zamboni at the university’s hockey games.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Joan Schmit.  In addition to being brilliant, personable, an excellent lecturer, and unbelievably kind, Professor Schmit demonstrates a great deal of care for each student’s success. Take Joan’s 200-person class and you will get more individual attention than you would if you were homeschooled.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire?  The new McDonald’s CEO, Steve Easterbrook—my life has improved ten-fold since “All-Day Breakfast” started.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? That people think I’m a lot smarter than I really am.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? That business decisions don’t happen in a vacuum.  The consequences of business decisions are not merely felt by shareholders; they have deep societal implications and improve or damage folks’ quality of life in a meaningful way.

Where would you like to work after graduation? I’d like to work as a risk modeler in the financial services field for any company that values both diversity of thought and social diversity.

What are your long-term professional goals? I’d ultimately like to return to school, get a Ph.D., and teach finance and monetary economics at a prominent university.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Do it.  And double it up with computer science or a social science (or both).

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I learned it was a field in which I could do things my own way.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…trying to make it in Hollywood and/or on Broadway.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…that even business is never just business.  I came in to the business school thinking a successful business experience revolved around success in the classroom.  It wasn’t until later that I started taking on other challenges and opportunities that the business school had to offer.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? I feel like I’m supposed to say when I got accepted into business school…

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Being able to watch my former students successfully navigate the business world.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? Probably an elephant—I’ll never forget a name, face, meeting, conversation, etc.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d first like to thank my parents, Dan and Lena Kelly.  I’m someone that likes do things his own way and off the beaten path, and I can only imagine how stressful that is for parents, but they’ve been a constant support beam throughout my life.

I’d also like to thank Joe Parker.  A former teacher/coach and a current mentor and friend, Coach has been a very positive component of my life. He has especially influenced my personal style and has given me the confidence to embrace a style of authentic leadership (or, as he would say, “keeping it real”).

I’d lastly like to thank Kelly Cuene, Carrie Bero, and Kim Mueller.  As my bosses for two years in the teaching role, they continually educated, challenged, and supported me.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? That I made a lasting, positive impact on this school and program.  And looked good doing it.

Favorite book: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t   by Nate Silver

Favorite movie: A Few Good Men

Favorite musical performer: Eminem (Duh.)

Favorite vacation spot: Chicago, IL

What are your hobbies? Euchre, racquetball, TV/movies

What made Steven such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

“Many students come to college to learn, but few embrace learning with as much enthusiasm as Steven.  Not only does he excel in the classroom but he has also taken advantage of multiple opportunities in the business school, on campus, and beyond to apply his knowledge about finance and business as well as develop his professional skills et. Moreover, he encourages that same learning and development in others.

As a Compass facilitator for our personal and professional development class, Steven taught and mentored new business students making sure they had the information they needed to navigate the school of business but also challenging them to think more deeply about leadership, values, ethics, career decision making, and working in diverse teams. He is willing to have difficult conversations in order to promote meaningful dialogue and find the best solutions. Week after week he considered the best ways to engage students and how to create a classroom environment that was conducive to constructive conversations that allow students to think critically about who they are and what kind of business leader they wish to be. He has engaged even further in these topics by developing and facilitating workshops for students on issues related to personal development, inclusive language, and diversity.

In addition, Steven continually looks for ways to give back to and improve the Wisconsin BBA program. He has served as a speaker at the new business student orientation sessions, volunteered for countless focus groups and feedback sessions, and participates in several student organizations.  Steven has the curiosity, leadership, and commitment to giving back that we hope to see in all our undergraduate business students.”

Steve Schroeder
Assistant Dean
Wisconsin BBA Program, Wisconsin School of Business



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