2019 Best EMBAs: Kevin Day, Michigan State (Broad)

Kevin L. Day

Michigan State University, Broad College of Business

“Senior technology leader with a passion for innovation, organizational effectiveness, and organization design.”

Age: 45

Hometown: Brighton, Michigan

Family Members: Wendy Day (spouse) and four children: David (22), Craig (21), Allison (15), and Brady (11)

Fun fact about yourself: I have a passport stamp from 19 countries; unfortunately, only three for leisure.         

Undergraduate School and Degree: Central Michigan University, Bachelor of Science, Computer Science Mathematics

Where are you currently working? Thomson Reuters, Ann Arbor, MI, Vice President of Technology

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • I served the U.S. Army and MI Army National Guard for 24 years to include two overseas tours in Iraq; I retired in 2017 as a Brigade Command Sergeant Major.
  • My current role at Thomson Reuters includes responsibility for the delivery of $400M in software and technology solutions annually to more than 75,000 CPA firms in six countries. My team is a total of 400 employees (plus 100 contractors) located in eight countries.
  • I currently serve as the executive sponsor of our Veteran’s Network at Thomson Reuters to include extensive volunteer activities with Fisher House – Michigan.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In August 2018, the Thomson Reuters Veteran’s Network hosted a golf-outing in support of Fisher House – Michigan. We filled every available slot in the outing and raised more than $30,000 after expenses.

Academically, I am most proud that I earned induction to Beta Gamma Sigma.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?

During my last role (Director of Technology, 2013-2018), our team won five prestigious awards from an external publication. Namely, our Tax Compliance software received the Award of Excellence three times and the Quality Award twice. These awards represent team accomplishment and highly-effective systems – not to mention the positive press and competitive advantage.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Stephen Schiestel, CFA. Professor Schiestel is a fellow alumnus of the MSU EMBA program; he brought extensive practical experiences to the classroom from his time as a Chartered Financial Analyst. In addition, he was highly relatable and dedicated to ensuring we would succeed in his class.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? I most appreciated the Global Marketplace experience, which included classroom training and a one-week global residency. During our residency we visited two cities in South Africa and met with a variety of businesses to include multi-national conglomerates all the way through sole proprietors. I found this experience to be completely relatable to my new assignment in which I lead a global technology organization in six countries. I particularly appreciated the sense of community connection I witnessed from businesses of all size in South Africa that I’ve tried to emulate in working with my global partners.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I strongly considered two other schools, but chose MSU’s EMBA program because of its reputation, a strong reference from a colleague, and their onboarding customer service. The MSU EMBA program directors and admission staff were responsive, dedicated to helping me through the process, and connected to us throughout the program.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The program material was highly relevant; I enjoyed discovering overlap with challenges from my job. For example, I was working with our finance department to establish capital and expense budgets for 2019. That very weekend we had an in-depth discussion in class on capitalizing software development. I discovered a flaw in my company’s strategy, so the Finance Manager and I discussed and corrected it the next Monday. That is one example of many throughout the program.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I learned to be very deliberate in building your leadership team to ensure your team includes people with a variety of strengths. In the past, I tended to select technology leaders from a framework that limits candidates to people with the same set of experiences. Going forward, I plan to broaden my search for leadership candidates and place less emphasis on technology experience and more on key strengths we need on our team.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education?  During the final full month of the program (February 2019), I had two class weekends and had to travel to Argentina, Brazil, and India to hire or select new leaders and perform performance evaluations of existing staff. I didn’t miss any class, made it through all the requirements (both at school and career), but was exhausted at the end of the month. My family and EMBA-team were a great help in this period in helping prioritize our upcoming work and rebalancing our responsibilities.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Something must change in your life for you to get through an executive program (and keep your job and family). For me, I retired from reserve-military service and stopped time-wasting activities, such as binge-watching NetFlix. Time management and organization are key skills to hone – dedicate time daily to progress in the school program, always know your deadlines, and communicate with your employer and family about your schedule.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?

Myth: Everything can be done online; in-person programs are outdated.

Reality: The MSU EMBA Class of 2019 performed about 20% of their academic requirements online. In addition, my cohort team conducted all our team meetings virtually. All other meetings and instruction were in person. I found the in-person networking and instruction to be the most valuable.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I did not value the in-person networking until late in the program. I started to notice my lack of networking about 50% through the program when I helped a classmate get a new job after he was laid off. The thought occurred to me “Am I connected enough if something like that were to happen to me? Would my classmates say, ‘Who is that guy’ if I reached out?”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Preet Grewal. Preet and I were on the same cohort team. Preet is a single mom who took on this program, changed careers midstream and managed several extracurricular activities. Throughout what must have been the most-stressful period of her life, she persevered and demonstrated a wonderful demeanor and sense of caring.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… after my fifth consecutive “Exceeded” performance rating as a Director, my boss informed me I could not be considered for advancement.” I was good enough for my current role (at the time), but highly limited in future opportunities.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I hope that earning my MBA, along with several current initiatives, I can demonstrate that I am a business and technology leader – not just a technology leader. My ultimate goal is to run an organization from end-to-end, such as the president of a division.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “Kevin is a servant leader and closer; he gets things done and I’d happily be part of his team.”

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. See my four kids through advanced education such that they are independent and able to start their own family.
  2. Live on a warm beach.

What made Kevin such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

Kevin has provided strong insight and significant contributions to our EMBA program. His experience, his intellectual curiosity, and his collaborative drive have made him a valuable team member and a strong contributor. He is well-respected by his classmates and self-motivated to be his best self as an executive. Kevin has demonstrated his commitment to growth and strong, positive leadership in his organization, in the military and in our program. He’s a role model for many and I highly recommend him for this honor.”

Cheri DeClercq

Assistant Dean – MBA/Graduate Programs

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAs OF 2019 or RANKING THE BEST EMBA PROGRAMS IN THE U.S.

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