Real Humans of the SMU Cox School of Business

SMU Cox School

Dan Keefe, SMU Cox PMBA

Age: 34

Hometown: I’m a proud “Army brat”—born in Ft. Sill, OK. Grew up in Norfolk, VA; Ely, England; Ft Campbell, KY; Bamberg, Germany; Vicenza, Italy; Carlisle, PA; back to Ft Campbell, KY.

Why business school? Why now? I knew that I had great experiences and real world problem solving skills, but I needed the business specific knowledge that only an MBA could provide. Timeline-wise, I had successfully made the transition from a US Army officer to the civilian work force and was ready to take on the additional challenge of an MBA program that allows me to work while completing the program.

Dan Keefe, SMU Cox PMBA

Dan Keefe, SMU Cox PMBA

Why the SMU MBA program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? I knew that I wanted a top ranked program, but was not in a position to relocate my family. SMU has a reputation as a top academic program, and has an incredibly powerful alumni network.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your MBA class? I feel that my real world experiences, leadership traits, and project management skills are most beneficial to my study team and cohort.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I love challenging myself both physically and mentally. I love hiking and adventure/obstacle course racing.

Post-MBA career interests? Ultimately, I want to help organizations strategically align and be a driver of change. I want to help shape the company culture, not just fit in.

Advice to Prospective MBA Applicants

One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I would work very closely with the admissions team, and be upfront about my strengths/weaknesses and what my goals are. Once I took the GMAT and seriously began my path to getting an MBA, I was on the phone with the Admissions staff nearly every week asking questions to help me make my decision and helping to paint the picture of who I am and my goals.

One thing you would change or do differently? I would have started the GMAT and admissions process a few years earlier (GMAT score is good for five years!). I think I was waiting for the “right time” to apply, and I finally realized there wasn’t going to be a perfect timeline or scenario that told me I could go back to school.

Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? The GMAT! It had been more than a few years since I took a standardized test, and it took me some time to fall back into good study habits. The biggest help was attending a GMAT prep course that was offered thru SMU.

Greatest highlight so far at SMU Cox? Working with and learning from my fellow PMBAs. Everyone always talks about how powerful the alumni network is, but they all started right where we are now. I am making some incredible friends and I have already seen classmates helping each other thru networking, business advice, or as study partners to clarify issues.

One thing about SMU Cox that you didn’t expect before arriving? The flexibility of the professors. They know that we are all working professionals and many of us have families, but they also know that we are very motivated to be here and want to learn. The professors are very understanding about our tight schedules and work with us if a work or family event impacts our class schedule.

Thing you were most anxious about in your first year? I was most anxious about the workload outside of the classroom. In addition to working a full time job while attending SMU, my wife is working a full time job while pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing and we have a 2-year-old at home, so time is a precious commodity for me.

Thing you were most excited about in your first year? I am most looking forward to attending the Disney Leadership Institute over the winter break. I believe that you should always be trying to improve yourself, and I hope to learn some great lessons from an incredibly successful brand.


About the Author

Matthew Korman

Matthew Korman is a writer on MetroMBA. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked as a music industry writer and promoter, a data analyst, and with numerous academic institutions. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.

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