Ellie Koehly Trades Scrubs for Business Suits, Then Business Suits for Scrubs

Ellie Koehly poses outside St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.

Ellie Koehly grew up in Moberly, Missouri. She received a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 2012 from MU and Master of Business Administration in 2014 from the Crosby MBA program.

Professionally, she is interested in the fields of life sciences and healthcare as well as non-profit administration. 

In her free time, she volunteers as a Friendly Visitor through the Boone County Council on Aging, an area non-profit organization, and loves to watch the Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals.

I always knew exactly what I was going to be when I grew up: Dr. Ellie Koehly, clad in scrubs and ready to help sick people get better.  I entered my freshman year confident in my choice to pursue a degree in biology.  Seven years later, I am definitely not a doctor, but I do wear scrubs and help sick people get better.  The route I took might not be what I planned, but I can’t imagine it any other way.

I began college with a one-track mind, taking all the right classes, volunteering at all the right places, and shadowing all the right doctors.  At some point, though, I realized I had no idea if I really wanted to be a doctor.  I began pursuing a minor in public service and leadership, discovering while volunteering at a non-profit organization what I hadn’t found in my science classes: passion.  I opened myself up to other career options, looking at programs that might help me change course.

Indulging my interests

The Crosby MBA program was exactly what I was looking for.  A business degree would not only introduce me to a whole range of unexplored opportunities but prepare me for them because the fundamentals persist regardless of the industry or organization.  Additionally, I found out I could pursue a certificate in Nonprofit Management, perfect for further indulging my new-found passion.

As an MBA student, I suddenly qualified for a wide variety of internships in the non-profit sector.  I applied for an internship with the Volunteer Services Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.  With a little luck and a bit of networking, I became the summer intern for their special events and housing programs.  I assisted in the development, promotion, implementation, and evaluation of weekly events for the patients in the hospital’s housing facilities.  I created a national marketing brochure for Tri Delta Place, the hospital’s primary short-term stay facility that serves up to 100 families each night.  I also updated their website, which was recognized with a certificate of excellence from the Healthcare Hospitality Network.  That summer at St. Jude was one of the most profound and inspiring experiences of my life — and it underscored my passion for making a difference in the lives of others.

Of course, sometimes that difference occurs more indirectly.  At St. Jude, I also was surrounded by groundbreaking research.  The scientists pursuing these life-changing treatments gave me new appreciation for my undergraduate studies.  That led me to my current pursuit.  The fellowship with University of Missouri Health System‘s Biodesign and Innovation Program is a perfect fit.  During this one-year appointment, I provide the business know-how on a team that also includes a doctor and an engineer, learning the development process for medical devices and applying my backgrounds in science and business to improve the lives of others.  It is my dream combination!

Doing my homework

In part to prepare for this fellowship, I looked for opportunities with start-up ventures and entrepreneurship.  Thanks to Business Career Services, I found an internship with Cultivation Capital, a venture capital firm out of St. Louis.  During my last semester, I was a member of its life sciences due diligence team.  Working remotely, I was given assignments to complete on my own time.  Once a week, the team would convene over Google Hangouts to discuss the start-up companies we were analyzing.

I put together succinct reports about companies’ marketing and financial plans, summarizing the competitive environment.  This internship posed unique challenges for me, and I gained incredible experience that was directly applicable to my current work.  For example, the internship gave me insight into what investors like Cultivation Capital look for in start-up companies, which I have used to evaluate outcomes at my fellowship.

Moving forward

So where does all of this that put me now?

Well, these first couple months have had me in and out of the operating room, identifying areas for improvement.  In a few weeks my team will present our top needs to a board of doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, and engineers.  That larger group will help us narrow our focus to three or four priorities, and then we will begin developing solutions and making prototypes.  Throughout the year, I will help formulate a business plan and evaluate how to get these solutions to market.

Looking back to my freshman year of college, I never would have imagined myself where I am now, but I also can’t imagine where I’ll be in another seven years, and that’s what’s exciting!  I love my fellowship because I can intertwine business and science to address real needs for real people.  I am going through this experience with an open mind, learning all I can from the program and my colleagues and know, when it’s all over, my next step will be revealed to me.

For now, you can find me in the OR, clad in scrubs, doing my best to help sick people get better.

Listen to Ellie Koehly share her story and ask her questions from noon to 1 p.m. September 25. Register for the webinar here.

Jacob Taylor: Taking Advantage of Opportunities as an Operations Analyst Intern with Liberty Mutual Insurance

Jacob Taylor worked in the Dallas area during his time with Liberty Mutual, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Boston with locations throughout the U.S.

Jacob Taylor started the Crosby MBA program with a professional background in construction management and is focusing on management as a student.  This summer he interned with Liberty Mutual Insurance

The internship Jacob participated in is a “feeder” internship, designed to find candidates for Liberty Mutual’s Field Management Development Program, an 18-month rotational program that develops the future leaders and managers of the company. He worked in the auto claims division of personal insurance.

Jacob Taylor is married and has two sons. Fortunately, his wife and boys could join him during his three months in Irving, Texas.  He said, “My wife is a real trooper!”

Although I worked on a number of initiatives during my 12 weeks in Texas, my primary project was to analyze the auto claims division’s loss adjusted expenses, which are the expenses not associated with a claim.  I also looked at the processes and procedures that led to those expenses.  Much of my daily work involved analyzing data.  That took me only so far, though.  I reached out to many different people within the organization to really understand the processes in place and find out what was really driving expenses.  Talking to all the different stakeholders and gaining their perspective helped me understand what really was going on, whether they worked in the field or at the company’s headquarters in Boston.  I enjoyed getting to learn about many parts of the organization.

I was also given the opportunity to spearhead a launch event for a new marketing campaign. This was a great opportunity to plan, lead, and manage something from start to finish.

As part of the internship I also was able to travel to Boston for some events with other interns.  At one event, soccer player Heather Mitts, a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. women’s team, spoke to us.  I also heard presentations from the heads of different strategic business units, so there were lots of opportunities to learn, network, and rub shoulders with a number of great people.

My analyzing, questioning, and presenting skills came in handy during this experience.  Class exercises about asking questions like what, why, and how helped me dig deeper. Also, participating in the Trulaske College of Business’ case competitionwas a huge benefit to me.  I believe it was a big plus on my resume and helped me get the internship in the first place.  At the end of my internship I presented my project and recommendations to management, which was a great opportunity to show them what I can do.  I have applied for the full Field Management Development Program and hope to rejoin Liberty Mutual next year.

One thing that I have learned is that the doors my Crosby MBA have opened are phenomenal!  I would not have anywhere near the same number nor kind of opportunities had I decided not come to MU for an MBA.  The trick to opening the doors is to take the time and effort to use the resources of the program.  The opportunities are there for those who take the initiative.

Read about the summer internship experiences of other Crosby MBA students here.

Katie Rapp: Applying Business Skills to Help Manage the Met’s Education Department

Besides the initiatives in which she was involved, another unique aspect of Katie Rapp's internship was wandering the empty galleries before the museum opened for the day.

Katie Rapp is an MBA candidate entering her second year in the program.  She has a strong interest in the arts and non-profit sectors.  Her ideal position after graduation would allow her to apply her business acumen to cultural non-profit organizations, helping them operate more efficiently to effectively serve the public and realize their missions.

This summer I interned with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for 10 weeks within the Education Administration department.  The Met’s Education department works to help visitors of all ages and levels of artistic knowledge and experience interact with the collections on display at the museum through a variety of programs such as gallery talks, exhibition tours, lectures, and courses.  Administration, a division of the Education department, supports the department’s infrastructure, processes, and resources so the museum can effectively provide educational tools and programs to all interested visitors who enter the museum.

Throughout my internship I worked on a museum-wide project to implement a new customer relationship management system as well as an event management system.  My role on these projects was to learn the functionality of the systems and lend my skills in various ways to prepare the systems for use by the Education department, enter data, assist in training, and customize the systems to meet the needs of the department.  I also spearheaded the implementation of a project management system within the Education department to help streamline the workflow and make the department more efficient so resources, both human and financial, could be used more effectively.  Besides these projects, I completed various tasks that helped me learn the organizational structure of the museum and introduced me to administrative management of a major non-profit institution.

The best part of my internship was getting to see concrete results of my work through the realization of a project from start to finish, with the implementation of the project management system.  Over the course of the program I interacted with various departments across the museum, allowing me to more fully understand the operations and structure of the institution.  My internship at the Met allowed me to apply my business knowledge to tasks previously foreign to me, such as the implementation of technological systems, but was a great introduction to avenues I can explore after graduation to help non-profits succeed.  One of the biggest perks of working at the Met was arriving at the museum each morning before it opened to the public, wandering the empty galleries by myself!

Read about the summer internship experiences of other Crosby MBA students here.