2020 Best & Brightest: Kaitlyn Yakaboski, University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Kaitlyn Yakaboski

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Foodie, spin class devotee, travel seeker, reader of all things thought-provoking (and cheesy romance).”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve slept in a treehouse in Laos.

Hometown: Apex, North Carolina

High School: Middle Creek High School

Major: Business/Interdisciplinary Studies, Global Human Empowerment


Favorite Business Course: Consulting Skills and Frameworks

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Teaching Assistant for the Consulting Skills and Frameworks Course
  • Project Lead for three strategic planning projects
  • Co-President of The Roosevelt Institute
  • Research Assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Wood-Cole Scholarship Recipient
  • Alvin M. Bodford Undergraduate Assured Admit Scholarship Recipient
  • International Case Competition Team Member – selected by UNC Kenan-Flagler
  • Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff in UNC Student Government
  • Volunteer for the Big Brother Big Sister Program
  • Volunteer for the Refugee Support Center
  • Honors Carolina Student
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler Assured Admit
  • Dean’s List for 7 semesters

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Chapel Hill, NC, Strategic Consulting Intern
  • Bain & Company, Boston, MA, Associate Consulting Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Associate Consultant

What company do you admire the most? Allbirds – an example of a company profiting from sustainable practices, I see Allbirds as the ideal business model. They created a product people love in a sustainable way, “with the environment as a stakeholder.” Allbirds doesn’t have any sort of a sale on Black Friday, simply because they don’t want to encourage consumers to buy things they don’t need.

Who is your favorite professor? Dr. Paul Friga. He goes out of his way to set students up for success, from bringing representatives from different consulting firms into the classroom to giving students opportunities to work with him on strategic planning projects. Dr. Friga is an incredibly engaging and knowledgeable professor who cares about all of his students. He has had a central impact on my time at Carolina. I want to recognize him for the role he’s played in my success, including prepping me for case interviews and trusting me to lead strategic planning projects.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The care for and engagement with students that’s evident in every professor and Undergraduate Business Program staff member at UNC Kenan-Flagler. It’s so clear they want all students to learn and succeed both in and out of the classroom and will do whatever they can to facilitate that.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Who you are as a person matters just as much, if not more than your success in the classroom and in the professional world. Business is an incredibly interactive field. Employers want to like and respect their co-workers and trust them in front of clients, which means that your emotional intelligence and growth matter.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Take advantage of all of the extra-curricular opportunities offered to you – they’ll end up being your favorite experiences and help you make connections with others in the same field or interested in the same things. They’ll also help you to showcase your motivation and interest in a particular field to future employers.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? It was how much connections matter. Initially, I thought if you mastered class concepts you would almost certainly be a competitive applicant for whatever job you wanted. However, I’ve come to realize that employers are on-campus for a reason – they want to get to know students as individuals through the workshops and information sessions they hold. Connections formed with employers here become incredibly important when you’re looking for that internship or job.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’m most proud of being a TA for the Consulting Skills and Frameworks course. This is the key course in the consulting area of emphasis, helping students learn how to approach business problems and bringing in consulting firm representatives to judge case competitions. I took this course my sophomore year and I can honestly say it was the class that most shaped my professional trajectory. When Professor Paul Friga asked me to TA for the course, I was incredibly honored, and couldn’t imagine a better way to positively impact the lives of other students interested in going into the field I had grown to love. Helping students through the course was one of my favorite experiences at UNC and getting to see them grow and thrive in the cases throughout the semester was extremely rewarding.

Which classmate do you most admire? Lexi Hawks – Lexi is incredible at prioritizing what’s important, making time for friends even while being involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities. She’s both a passionate and organized leader and a dedicated supporter of others – managing to both run the Undergraduate Consulting Club impeccably and leading free swimming lessons through Dive In. She’s always happy to make time for others, especially her friends, and she’s someone I look up to as a role model for excellence in all aspects of life.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my parents. From the time I started school, they have never pressured me about grades or test scores, instead encouraging my various interests and supporting me whenever I set a goal. Now, they’re always ready to help, whether it’s taking me out for dessert during an especially stressful week, encouraging me to write thank-you notes, proof-reading emails, or simply listening to my highs and lows of the week. They would likely describe themselves as “facilitators” for me and my sisters, but I would say they’re much more than that – they’re instrumental to my sense of what’s right and wrong and a key part of who I am today.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?  Teach a class and run an organization that makes a difference in the world.

What are your hobbies? Spin classes, yoga, reading non-fiction books, travel, hiking, cooking

What made Kaitlyn such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Over my 20 years of teaching business school students, I have never come across a student with so much drive, focus, energy and passion for impact. I have worked Kaitlyn for two years as a student in my consulting class (and then a TA) and on numerous strategic planning projects for campus units and beyond. She is an undergraduate who operates at the level of an MBA and somehow maintains humility and an openness to feedback-driven by her desire to continuously improve.

She is going to change the world, starting with her work at Bain & Company. She masters technical requirements while actually (and I no idea how she does this) maintaining a work-life balance through exercise and occasionally saying no. Once she starts anything, she takes it to completion with a very high internal bar of excellence. Lastly, her passion and interest in others’ success, especially students in our class when she was a TA, is extremely uncommon and quite welcome and needed, in today’s world.”

Paul N. Friga
Clinical Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship
UNC Kenan-Flagler


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