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With a goal of diversifying corporate America, 18 universities, including the UW, are working together to connect 400 MBA students of color with corporate partners each year. Brandon Shields MBAx’17, a captain in the marine reserves who is raising his two-year-old son as a single parent, is earning his MBA through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management at the Wisconsin School of Business. He’s secured a full-time job at DuPont after graduation, and is developing an app to make child care more accessible for parents.

What led you into the business world?
When I was in Afghanistan, I would get care packages — certain products like a can of Pringles or ChapStick — and they would instantly bring me back to Philadelphia with my siblings. When you’re in combat, there are just certain products that can really transport you. It was that connection that led me to brand management at UW.

Why is the consortium program so important?
When I was in the marines as an officer, there were very few African Americans in my position. It’s the same in the business world: there are not that many black executives. A program like the consortium helps develop that pipeline. When [my son] is going to the Wisconsin School of Business [someday], I want him to have a minority CEO to look toward and aspire to be.

What do you bring to the business world as a veteran?
Being a veteran from a young age, I was charged with leading people older and younger than me. You don’t find that with some 22-year-old kid who just graduated from college. When you’re in the military, you’ve just got to go for it. You have to accomplish your mission. Taking a chance on starting a company or new job is not as scary when you compare it to things you’ve experienced in the past.

Tell me about your app for finding quality child care.
If there [were] someway I could get sitters like the ones I currently have — but instantaneously and credentialed — that would be great. [I want to] harness the network effect of being a part of UW–Madison. There’s a huge talent pool of students who are going into the education pipeline. They’re already working in our daycare centers, so why not provide them an opportunity to earn some extra cash when they’re not at work or class? They would upload their schedules, and then a parent would go on and see who is available and hire a sitter. I’d scale this model out wherever there is a university.

Interview conducted, edited, and condensed by Riley Vetterkind x’17

Published in the Winter 2016 issue

Tags: Alumni, Business, Students, Teaching and learning

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