Q&A with Logan G.
Logan is one of our mentors I am excited to introduce. Coming from an unconventional background and having successfully navigated the application process and landed at a top MBA program, he is excited to share what he has learned and offer insight to future applicants. Take a look at our conversation below to learn a little more about Logan’s journey!
Could please briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Logan Greenwood. I am an incoming First Year at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
How did you end up looking into an MBA?
It’s a little bit of a crazy story to be honest. In my undergrad years I was a History major, and I wanted to be a professor. After I graduated in 2015 and saw the trend of teaching jobs in the humanities continue to drop, I decided not to pursue that path, and have spent the past few years as an entrepreneur. To be perfectly honest the frustrations with my own businesses and my own limitations as an entrepreneur really made me want to go back and find the growth I felt I could get with an MBA.
That’s really interesting. What were the first ventures that you started up?
The original idea was to build and monetize websites in order to have a passive income coming in. It was tough at first, and what we ultimately ended up doing was web development and digital marketing for small businesses. Originally we weren’t able to transition in to building and monetizing websites the way we wanted to, and it was a project that crashed and burned early last year that really motivated me to go to business school. Ironically, that business has actually rebounded and is doing really well now so it is kind of the best of both worlds.
You mentioned you wanted to go for an MBA to hone those skills. Are you still looking to continue that entrepreneurship route post-MBA, or do you have different plans now?
So to expand on that a little bit, there’s a book about all the different things you could do instead of selling your business, and one of the ideas I picked up is that it is hard to learn to build and run a 7-figure business when you have never been a part of one. The fix is that you hire someone else to run your business while you go work for a Fortune 500 company and learn how those organizations work. That was what I initially tried to do. I wanted to get a job at a top tech company, but when I was looking into them I realized nothing on my resume would stand out. Most of my skills are largely self-taught and the majority of my work-experience is in start-ups. Because of this I would only be competitive in gaining an entry level role, which is a huge step back from what I am doing currently. That’s what really led me to the MBA in order to bridge the gap to the type of position I was looking for. I guess that is a long winded way of saying my ultimate goal is still to work at a large tech company and eventually either come back to being an entrepreneur full time or end up in one of the smaller innovative sections within a top company.
It’s a significant feature of a lot of first generation college students where a great deal is self-taught. What were some of the learning experiences that you had going through the MBA application process?
So many! I can’t think of anyone in my pre-MBA circle who had an MBA, or had ever gone to Grad School for the most part. So I had to learn all of it from the ground up. I had a non-traditional undergrad experience, and then a pretty unconventional work experience for an MBA applicant as well, which led to me having a lot of fear about how competitive I may be.
I learned a lot from online forums but it can kind of be a bit of a black hole when it comes to the MBA process. It can make you feel like if you aren't already an investment banker at Goldman Sachs or a consultant from Deloitte all of the schools that you want to go to are out of reach. And this isn’t necessarily true which is important to keep in mind!
I think this ties in to what you mentioned about trying to find the right questions to ask, only to feel like you are two steps behind when you get there because other applicants have been already moving on that information.
Absolutely. I love the saying about the known, the known unknown, and the unknown unknown. As a first generation student sometimes you can just be trying to figure out what it is that you don’t know while other’s already have that knowledge and are overcoming the next obstacle. It can definitely feel like an uphill battle sometimes.
In that same vein, what surprised you most throughout your application process?
Oh my gosh, well just how drawn out it was for one. The GMAT surprised me a bit as well, and was also one of the hardest parts for me. I did not have a super strong math background coming in to this process, and because of that I started studying quite early. I think that drew the process out even longer for me.
You mentioned that you are going to Fuqua, and something that I noticed in my interviews is that schools can have different personalities. How did you figure out that Fuqua was the place for you?
At first Fuqua wasn’t really on my radar. My wife and I lived in California for a couple of years and moved back to Alabama to start a business and take advantage of the lower cost of living, but ultimately we want to be back on the West Coast. Initially I was only looking to apply to West Coast schools. I know schools say that GMAT is just one part of your applications, but as much as most of these top 25 schools say that, their ranking has a pretty tight correlation with their GMAT score. Fuqua is a little bit of an outlier there. They tend to have a significantly lower GMAT than those around them, so I thought that would suit me well. I visited Fuqua first and had a great experience. To be honest none of my other interviews out west really lived up to the experience that I had interviewing at Fuqua. I think most people will get a feeling at one or two schools that fit well.
It comes down to where can you picture yourself at the end of the day - I think that is the important thing. So many people looking at an MBA get caught up in the rankings. Certainly rankings say something but they don’t say everything.
For sure. I think that one thing people don’t appreciate is situations where the rankings aren’t as important. It really depends on what your career goal is. For example, one of the schools that I was heavily drawn towards was Foster at Washington. If you are interested in tech, particularly in the Seattle area, you can make the argument that maybe outside of Harvard and Stanford, Foster is as good a school for that goal as anything is. Lots of schools have a specific niche and in that sphere they are about as good as it gets, regardless of their rank.
Is there anything else that you would advise someone else looking at MBA and the application process that maybe you hadn’t expected and wished that you had known earlier?
If there was one thing that I could say, it would boil down to the phrase “Shoot your Shot.” I see so many people, especially in online forums, with the mentality that “if you haven’t cured cancer by the time you’re 28 then don’t bother applying.” That can be demoralizing! Because of this I actually hired an admissions consultant. The most important thing that he did for me was convince me to apply to my reach schools. It is important to realize that if you have more of that non-traditional background that doesn’t preclude you from being competitive - it can be a strength. So yeah, shoot your shot and you’re probably more competitive than you think you are.
I think something we didn’t touch too much on was that nontraditional background, and I think people can get afraid of that. But it can really be an asset when you spin it correctly.
Yeah absolutely. Even going back to my undergrad experience, I went to three different schools and went through some adversity in those times that I was worried about explaining in applications. As you said though it is all about how you tell that story, and I think that can be shown as having grit and overcoming a struggle. You never really know for sure how schools are judging, but certainly the interviewers that I spoke with seemed to be happy to be talking with someone who was outside of the norm.
Very true, and that is important for everyone to hear! Thanks again for your insights. I’m excited to have you on board as a mentor and I’m sure you will be able to help a lot of future applicants. That will wrap up our Q&A for today!