2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Kelly Shao, Boston University (Questrom)

Kelly Shao

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“Just a theater kid acting like she knows business.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been to twelve different countries! My favorite ones so far have been Egypt, China, and Portugal, and I would really like to visit Greece and Japan in the future.

Hometown: Montgomery, New Jersey

High School: Montgomery High School

Major: Business Administration with concentrations in Information Systems and Strategy

Minor: None

Favorite Business Course: IS474 – Platform Strategy and Design with Professor Andrei Hagiu

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

BU Consulting Group – President (first female), Director of Casing, Director of Engagements

BU Guerrilla Marketing Society – Vice President

Head Teaching Assistant for Introductory Statistics (QM221)

Teaching Assistant for Introduction to Information Systems (IS223)

Teaching Assistant for Intro to Data Analytics in Python (BA222)

Stage Troupe – Actor and Head Producer

IBM Accelerate Program

National Investment Banking Competition

Questrom Honors Program (Former Member)

Kilachand Honors College (Former Member)

Beta Gamma Sigma invitee – International Business Honor Society

Dean’s List (All Semesters)

Where have you interned during your college career?

Novartis (East Hanover, NJ) – Enterprise Media Intern

PricewaterhouseCoopers (Boston, MA) – Management Consulting Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group (Boston, MA) – Associate

Who is your favorite business professor? I would say that Professor John Kirks is my favorite professor that I have had at BU. I have taken three of his classes and have worked closely with him through the BU Consulting Group, for which he serves as the faculty advisor. I deeply respect his knowledge of strategy, consulting, leadership, and life. He is both a remarkably engaging professor and a great mentor. There are many students who have benefited not only from his teachings, but also his guidance on navigating academics, career paths, and more. I am very thankful to have received his support in several of those areas, and I would not be where I am today without him. He is truly a treasure amongst the Questrom faculty and I look forward to staying in touch with him after graduation.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? How to manage relationships with various groups of people. There is a lot of coordination needed in business, and learning how to navigate those situations effectively is a very important skill. I have had a lot of experience as an undergrad working with large, complex teams and collaborating with external parties. The skills I acquired through those experiences will continue to serve me for the rest of my career and also in my personal life. Business is very people-oriented, so emotional intelligence is just as important as technical competency.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Take time to figure out what you want, then stay true to your goals. Business is a very broad field, and there are plenty of different careers that you can pursue. Giving yourself time to try different things and identify what you’re most interested in will really pay off. You’ll feel more motivated to do well and have a much greater sense of personal fulfillment. Enjoying what you do also helps you persevere through challenging times, which are an inevitable part of every journey. Additionally, make sure to find balance in what you do. Work hard and play hard, and never forget to dedicate time to yourself and your loved ones.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The practicality of the material we learn in business surprised me when I first started taking classes. I feel like the coursework we had before college was more focused on developing foundational skillsets and knowledge about the world, which made it hard to see how I was immediately benefiting from what I was learning. Whereas in business, I can easily see how concepts we learn will apply to my career, especially when we discuss them through cases. I enjoy how practical it is and it makes academics much more engaging for me.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I don’t think there is anything I would do differently. I am happy with who I am and where I am today, and I think that that is the result of both the positive and negative experiences in my life so far. But if I had to do one thing differently, it would probably be pursuing my dreams sooner. When I was a freshman, I was worried about going into a very competitive field and what that would mean for my job prospects. So I stuck with something else that seemed like a safer option, even though it wasn’t what I found most interesting. However, after shooting my shot at my dream career in business, I’ve learned that with hard work and a bit of luck, dreams can come true.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my growth as a part of the BU Consulting Group. When I first heard about them my freshman year, I was in awe of the incredibly talented upperclassmen who led the club and wanted to become as knowledgeable as they were. Through my two-and-a-half years in the club, I went from being a student in the educational programs to being the first female president the club has ever had. As President, my team and I grew the club to a record high membership while increasing the number of employer events and taking our annual consulting conference to new heights. I also created a brand new program along with two other members of the leadership team, and bringing it to life has been very fulfilling. Through my time in the club, I connected with amazing mentors and highly capable peers who’ve helped me grow and land my dream job. I plan on staying life-long friends with many of them. Hence, I consider my experience in the BU Consulting Group a win on all fronts and I am immensely thankful for everything the club and community has given me.

Which classmate do you most admire? Atharva Mhatre is the classmate that I admire the most. He is also a senior, and we first met when we were sophomores. Now, I would easily call him one of the best friends I have ever had. He is an incredibly talented, intelligent, kind, and thoughtful person with strong values. He has immense knowledge about and passion for his field, and I love learning from him about finance, leadership, and life perspectives. I admire his dedication to his goals and his amazing work ethic, and he manages to stay very humble despite his numerous accomplishments. He deserves all the recognition and success he has earned so far, and I’m incredibly excited to see how far he’ll go in the future.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my parents for my success and for everything they have given me. They have always supported me in pursuing my dreams, both personally and professionally, and they continuously provide me with guidance on how to be a better person and leader in business. They are both PhD chemists, but they are incredibly knowledgeable about many things outside of chemistry, like world history, current events, and managing interpersonal relationships. I could not ask for a better family and support system, and I love them to the moon and back.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The first thing on my list is to complete a rotation at an international office (or two!). I visited Singapore with my Global Management Experience class in Spring 2023 and I really liked my experience, so I would love to work there for a year.

Another item on my professional bucket list is to become a professor. I enjoy teaching and providing mentorship to others, so I feel like becoming a professor would be really fun and meaningful. I would also to love give back to future students for all the mentorship and knowledge I received when I was in their shoes.

What made Kelly such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“I had the pleasure of having Kelly as a student in three classes: SI422 Strategy, Innovation & Global Competition; SI360 Strategy Lab; and SI432 Corporate Strategy. Kelly was so dedicated as a student, and she made tremendous contributions to all three classes through her enthusiastic engagement. In addition to her Strategy studies, Kelly is also an Information Systems concentrator. She has an exceptional academic record, having earned
a 3.99 GPA during her time as an undergraduate student. To speak to Kelly’s talent and leadership, in her team’s SI360 Strategy consulting project for Flywire (NASDAQ: FLYW) in Spring 2023, Kelly anchored her team’s work on the firm’s Competitive Positioning in India, one of its largest markets!

Further, Kelly served as the President of the BU Consulting Group, and as the club’s faculty advisor, I had the opportunity to work extensively with Kelly during her tenure, as well as the previous two years. In short, Kelly has been an extraordinary leader for the club, which truly thrived under her direction. The club has indeed made tremendous strides across its live-consulting engagements, its Strategy Lab case competition, and its casing program. In September 2023, Kelly and the club’s leadership team oversaw the most successful consulting conference in the club’s history, with 30+ consulting professionals and 125+ students in attendance. During Kelly’s time at BU, she also served as VP of the Guerrilla Marketing Society and Head TA in QM221 Statistical Decision-Making for Management.

I know that Kelly will be working for the Boston Consulting Group in the firm’s Boston office, and she is eager to kick off her career in Strategy Consulting. As is typical of her leadership, Kelly has indicated she is enthusiastic about mentoring future Terriers who are interested in consulting. Thus she will continue to provide value and contribute even after her graduation this May!”

Professor John Kirks
Master Lecturer, Strategy and Innovation


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