2018 Best & Brightest: Casey Walker, University of Illinois (Gies)

Casey Walker

University of Illinois (Gies)

“I believe true genius is developed through hard work and ingenuity.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have two pet rabbits whose names are Bundini and Smudge. I love them very much.

Hometown: Peoria, IL

High School: Dunlap High School

Major: Supply Chain Management and Information Systems/Information Technology

Minor: Technology and Management

Favorite Business Course: BADM 395: Making Things

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: During my time at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I have been a part of Beta Alpha Psi, the Supply Chain Management Association an APICS Chapter, Phi Beta Lambda Professional Business Organization, Illinois Business Consulting, the Student Organization Resource Fee Board, the College of Business Peer Advising Program, Peer & Career, Entrepreneurs Without Borders, the Pricing Academy, the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, and numerous committees.

Where have you interned during your college career? I interned at Caterpillar Inc. in the summers of 2015 and 2016 in East Peoria, Illinois, as a Supply Chain Management Intern and at Amazon Inc. in the summer of 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana, as an Area Manager Intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I will be working at 3M Company as an Optimized Operations (O2) Analyst. O2 is a supply chain-based program that provides recent Engineering, Supply Chain Management, and Environmental, Health and Safety graduates with the opportunity to jump-start their careers.

Who is your favorite professor? Professor Madhu Viswanathan as he is a distinguished and respected professor, researcher, friend, father, husband, and mentor whose work benefits many people around the world.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Learning more about different cultures and having access to great people (both students and Professors) and resources.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? People are not commodities and should not be treated as such in a business setting. Everyone (and their needs) are different and companies should strive toward bettering society instead of just turning a profit.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Come to college with an open mind, as your viewpoints on many topics will change.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…Industrial engineering, because I enjoy understanding how products are made and how processes can be improved along the way.”

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? How broad business can be. There are many fields that range from accounting to behavioral marketing, which all fall within the business realm.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother was and still is an accountant at Caterpillar Inc. Having grown up with an accountant as a mother, I knew I would end up doing something similar.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my experience leading organizations as that is when I was able to help the most people grow, learn, and improve.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the business school? Integrate more technical knowledge into the college. Too often business schools teach frameworks and models that many students forget within a few days.

Which classmate do you most admire? Although this is very biased, I admire my classmate and girlfriend Xuyang Cheng the most. Xuyang is originally from Shanghai, China and is currently a junior studying accountancy. Before meeting and dating her, I never realized the immense amount of challenges an international student faces in an extremely different environment like the U.S.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother. It is not easy being a high-level woman business professional in the society in which we live in. She taught me that hard work, not inherent genius, is the most important thing for success.

What would your theme song be? “The Ride of the Valkyries” because it is both relaxing and intense at the same time.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? To visit Antarctica, as that is the only continent I have not yet visited, and to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Favorite book: Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Favorite movie: Interstellar by Christopher Nolan

Favorite vacation spot: Argentina

What are your hobbies? Traveling, writing, reading, listening to economics related podcasts, and camping.

What made Casey such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?  

“Casey Walker stood out among hundreds of students from his first year in the undergraduate program. He leads by example. He embodies leadership first and foremost by being there in every commitment he makes; always dedicated, dependable, responsive, and respectful.

Casey loves to learn for its own sake. He has travelled to India multiple times, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Argentina, and has interacted with people very different from him.

Casey is a model student and leader dedicated to learning and improving himself.  He has been the anchor behind Entrepreneurs Without Borders for several years, leading by example and nurturing other leaders. He has an amazing temperament whether he is jet-lagged during 14-hour days across the world, interviewing refugees in a settlement in Uganda, or working with interdisciplinary groups on campus.

I have interacted with thousands of students in my almost 32-year teaching career and Casey is among the very, very best.”

Madhu Viswanathan
Professor/Diane and Steven N. Miller Centennial Chair in Business
Gies College of Business, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign




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