Ken Jackson and Arthur Williams (not their real names) graduated from Wharton’s MBA program this summer. We caught up with the self-professed party boys - Williams admits fellow students may have found him "obnoxious" - when they were in London en route to a week of fun in Sweden before starting work.
Jackson, 30, had very specific goals in mind when he chose Wharton: he wanted to move from strategy consulting into corporate restructuring, and to move from the UK to the US.
After five years at Accenture, the Oxford University grad applied to Insead, Harvard Business School and Wharton. Insead and Wharton made him offers and he chose the latter because he thought the top US school would maximize his chances of moving industries.
“I couldn’t have done it without two years and without luck,” says Jackson, who will shortly start work as a Turnaround and Restructuring Services Associate at AlixPartners.
Though Insead’s international student body and foreign language teaching appealed, he thought the Fontainebleau-based school wouldn’t have got him a US career and the one-year program wasn’t long enough.
Wharton’s two-year program enabled him to do an internship in restructuring between his first and second year. Jackson, who grew up in Surrey, a tony suburb of London and attended Harrow, a leading British boarding school, spent eight weeks as an intern at a soap factory in Mississippi.
Chicago native Arthur Williams, a graduate of the University of Illinois and the first person in his family to go to college, needed an MBA to move up in the private equity world. Wharton seemed to be the business school of choice in the industry.
“I hadn’t even heard of Wharton until I started working,” says Williams, whose first job out of college was as an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston. “Suddenly I was meeting all these people who’d been at Wharton.”
Later, Williams worked at a private equity fund where one of the partners he admired had been a Palmer Scholar at Wharton. “He was intelligent and down to earth… I noticed that Wharton grads are smart but they aren’t cocky or arrogant”, adds Williams. He too was made a Palmer Scholar at graduation and is heading to New York to take up a position as a vice president at a middle-market private equity firm.
Wharton’s social scene also helped Williams to make up his mind. He applied to both Harvard and Wharton. He was wait-listed for Harvard and when he started at Wharton in August 2007 there was a chance Harvard could still offer him a place. “When I arrived I was asking myself if I’d still move to Harvard if I got in,” adds Williams. But after a week of orientation with the likes of Jackson, he says, the answer was “no way”.
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