2018 Best EMBAs: Kyle Krause, Michigan State (Broad)

Kyle Krause

Michigan State University, Broad Graduate School of Management

Highly motivated, ethical, and energetic engineer with a passion for the outdoors, family, and adventure.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Bloomfield Hills, MI

Family Members: Erin (wife), Colton (son 4yo) and Owen (son 2yo)

Fun fact about yourself: I was a member of the NCAA DII Men’s Basketball National Runner Up, 2009 at Cal Poly Pomona. We lost in overtime to a fade away 3 pointer at the buzzer from 25 feet out.

Undergraduate School and Degree: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) – 2009, BS Mechanical Engineering; Michigan State –2018, EMBA

Where are you currently working? Peterson Spring, Mechatronics Engineering Manager – lead a team that designs and manufactures our own automation equipment

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Member of the Field and Stream Team (men’s ministry at Kensington Community Church); fundraising for Hope Water Project (ran Detroit full and half marathon) and Team Worldvision (ran Chicago Marathon) both of which were for clean water wells in Africa

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Graduating with honors – With two young kids at home, and a loving and supportive wife, my priorities lie with them. Being able to balance a demanding yet satisfying career, family life, and graduating from the MSU EMBA program with honors gives me pride that I can achieve personal, professional, and academic goals concurrently without losing quality in any of them.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The creation of the Peterson Mechatronics group within Peterson Spring. We have our own logo, dedicated workspace, and budget, all of which started by me taking on the challenge of building an automated piece of equipment in house instead of contracting it out. My one-man team is now six strong, and we are able to design. Develop, and build 4-6 pieces of equipment per year. Some of these pieces operate 24 hours a day, 5-7 days a week, and manufacture parts that go into the vehicles we depend on every day. I am grateful and blessed that I work at a company that allows people the ability to achieve and create their own path within the organization.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? The organizational behavior class was a great look at overlaying personal traits and psychological concepts to an overall organization’s goals, and how to structure, organize, and motivate people, teams, and organizations to achieve success – all the while establishing or maintaining competitive advantage, which was an insight I hadn’t really thought about before. The equipment my team designs and builds is a key contributor to Peterson Spring’s competitive advantage. When looking at it through that lens, it has helped me to prioritize and work through the challenges I face day-to-day. Organizational Behavior was one of the first courses we had, and was a great intro to the program because many of the concepts carried through to other subjects. Because it was something so foreign to me, it also helped to re-energize the “academic” side of my brain that had been relatively dormant since graduating from undergrad. I have been constantly learning in my role at Peterson Spring building automation equipment, but I was more focused on learning inside of the scope of engineering, whereas this topic was completely outside of my engineering focus, as was mostly everything else I learned in the EMBA program.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? First, it was heavily recommended by our CEO, who graduated several years beforehand from the same program. Second, when interviewing and learning more about the program, the style of learning meshed very well with my hands on approach to learning and my career that I enjoy. It also featured lots of projects, team focus, and rigor in terms of workload and content. I enjoy a good challenge, and this program specifically looked to be a challenge opposed to an online or “go at your own pace” program. Nothing wrong with those, just not my style. BTW, the program did not disappoint in terms of being a good challenge! Third, the fact that the MSU EMBA requires a minimum of five years work experience enables that I could learn just as much from my classmates as I could from my professors. Again, it did not disappoint on this point either!

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The immense amount of knowledge gained about how to view and operate a business. I had been so focused in my engineering discipline that it was tough to see the forest when I am down in the pine needles of getting an individual piece of equipment designed and operational to make one part for one customer. The engineer in me loves the pine needles, but I am so much more effective now that I can see the forest and how all of the pieces fit together, starting with the financials and how everything in the business is tied together and dependent on each other.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The team aspect of the majority of the classwork, and how we had to draw on each other’s strengths to learn and succeed. I learned so much from my team members, as well as the rest of my classmates, and developed some long lasting friendships that would not have been formed had I not been in the program. One of my team members is a designer at FCA, and I had no idea I could learn so much from an artist about business. His mindset was so different and unique and he was critical (as were all of my team members) to our success as a group. At work, I have shifted how I manage my team to draw on each person’s strengths and how they best operate, instead of trying to force them into how I would have done the same task. Some of my team members need time to focus on one project at a time, so as a manager I have absorbed some of the distractions that would make them less productive. I am an arranger, which means I am super organized. One of the side benefits of that strength is that I can change directions very quickly, and I have learned to give others the time needed to change directions at their own pace.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? There are so many stories to pull from, as it was 22 months of juggling! One of the hardest on my family was how one of my machines in Mexico was having an issue, which required me to fly down on a Monday, work all week to fix the issue, and then fly back just in time for the class on Friday night. Each night during that week from my hotel room I was doing classwork until midnight (at least) when I wasn’t at the plant. Upon my return that week, I met with my family for dinner at Red Robin on the way to school from the airport, and then got through Friday evening and Saturday all day class. After class on Saturday, I went straight to meet my family at a park, and I ran around chasing my boys for 2 hours at the playground until the sun went down. Personally, this EMBA program has been a “circle the wagons” experience for my family, but we have grown closer as a result and I am blessed to have my wife Erin at my side. She is the rock of stability who is the foundation that gives me the ability to aspire and achieve my professional goals.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? It will be tough to get back into the mindset of academia after being out in industry for so long. The EMBA program is structured so much differently than a traditional undergrad. They make it really easy to come right after work on Friday and learn with your peers, who are all going through the same professional challenges you are. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, and the structure of the program makes it as easy as possible to continue this endeavor.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I chose to do an individual CEO interview and organizational analysis project instead of a social impact project. I had heard that the social impact projects were “more work.” At the time, I was just trying to survive and protect my family balance. A social impact project would have meant more time away from home after hours, which I was guarding aggressively against. Charitable giving and helping others is a big part of my life through church, and I have a heart for helping those who have not been given the same opportunities as I have been blessed with. I wish I had given this more thought instead of just choosing the “easy road” of doing an individual project.    

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Jim Nader. He always had a phenomenal attitude, and had great insight during every class. I look forward to developing a better professional relationship with him now that things have settled down and we are done being forced to see each other every other weekend!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was enrolled at U of M in the Masters of Engineering program, and the concepts being learned weren’t relative to advancing my career where I wanted it to go. I figured than an MBA would give me a much broader knowledge base than just a deeper understanding of engineering.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…the same engineer playing around in the pine needles, not able to see the forest through the trees.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said “a CEO.”  However, I was advised by a coworker (whom I look up to greatly) to “not focus on a title, but focus on a role or position where you can have significant decision making responsibility to impact the lives of those around you in a positive way.” That resonates so deeply with me, and allows me to find meaning in what I am doing now, in addition to what the future holds for me as I continue to learn and advance both personally and professionally.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who took the time to ask and actually care about the response to the question, “How are you?”  We are all in this life together, and I hope that my needs at the moment don’t overshadow the needs of those around me.

Favorite book: I haven’t read a lot lately, but when I was in high school and did read, Tom Clancy novels were the best. Favorite would have to be Rainbow Six.

Favorite movie or television show: Tombstone (I grew up on a farm and enjoy westerns)

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1. Fly fishing in New Zealand, 2. Visit every National Park in the US as a family by the time my kids go to college. Yes, there are 58 or so, so we are starting soon!

What made Kyle such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Wicked Smart. That was my first impression of Kyle Krause, EMBA Class of 2018. In fact, I thought he might be one of those students who thinks he is too smart for an MBA. Oh, how very wrong I was.

When first interviewing Kyle, I was struck by how thoughtful and analytical he was. Occasionally with smart, engineering-trained candidates, the conversation focuses on a desire to learn the nuts and bolts of business – How to better understand finance and accounting terms. Yet for Kyle, from the beginning, I sensed his focus was on more than just the language of business. But instead on how to grow and develop. Certainly his desire was to understand the financial aspect of how organizations operate effectively. But there existed a deeper desire to make things better, to improve himself and his organization.

During our 20-month program, Kyle consistently worked to wring every ounce of value out of the program. He sought to integrate his work (including a promotion and increasing responsibilities with his firm Peterson Spring) and his family into this life-changing experience. He and his team benefited from his curiosity, his vulnerability and his desire to develop and contribute. He is a great example of a smart guy who knows he is never too smart.”

Greg Janicki

Director, Executive MBA


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