2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Ofelia Kumpf, USC (Marshall)

Ofelia Kumpf

University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business

“Visionary and Strategic Executive, Often Described as an Admired Leader, Risk-Taker, Change-Agent, & Life-long Learner.”

Age: 51

Hometown: Anaheim Hills, CA

Family Members: Brian Kumpf (Husband) & 9-year old twins, Sofia (Daughter) and David (Son)

Fun fact about yourself: I am a huge Eagles band fanatic! I have seen them several times, I even attended the same ‘The Classic’ concerts on both US coasts, Dodger Stadium on the West coast, and Citi Field on the East coast.

Undergraduate School and Degree:  

Bachelor of Science in Business Management, University of Phoenix, 2005

Executive Master of Business Administration, USC Marshall School of Business, 2020

Where are you currently working? McDonald’s USA, U.S. Field Vice President

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: For the past three years, I was ranked by the Association for Latino Professionals for America and Fortune #12, #13 and #7 (respectively) on its list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas in the U.S. In 2017, I was the inaugural employee awarded the June Martino award, for my visionary and out-of-the-box strategic thinking by the McDonald’s Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN). I was also named the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation’s Woman of the Year in 2015. I currently serve as the McDonald’s GWLN U.S. Chair. In 2016, I joined the Latino Donor Collaborative board and was their previous finance chair. I also serve on the board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The M&A Strategy and Analysis (Theme 8) team project was a learning experience that broadened and stretched my thinking tremendously. It comes to mind as to what I am most proud of during EMBA. The professors awarded our team with one of the highest grades for our thorough report and presentation. A truly enriching experience with key learnings for when one might need to partake and influence the strategic decision and direction of a company. We are on the list of teams invited to share our M&A Project experience with EMBA 35 in the Fall. This is quite an honor and we will pay it forward as EMBA 33 teams did for us.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud to say that I am the highest-ranking Latina in McDonald’s. It has been a great, fulfilling career. I am extremely proud of the culture I have helped create at McDonald’s and the talent I have been able to support and develop. I feel most fulfilled when seeing others thrive and flourish. From all my experiences, I believe a great leader shares the success of the team – to the team – and takes accountability for any mistakes that are made. I hold myself accountable to create an environment and culture where my team knows that it is okay to make mistakes and learn and grow from them. In other words, create the culture and nourish this notion as part of the personal development and growth of each of my individual team members.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Each professor taught topics of interest to me. Based on my aptitude, however, strategy, finance, communications, marketing, and our corporate entrepreneurship professors, had my engagement and attention. I naturally gravitated to these subjects and professors. I would place the lessons taught and expertise of our professors, with any high ranked EMBA program, anywhere. They far exceeded my expectations and appreciated how they challenged my cohort.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? The USC EMBA program stood out because of its world-class faculty and the strong Trojan network. I knew I wanted to go somewhere that attracted a diverse and accomplished cohort to work with and learn from in and out of the program. USC EMBA is known for their collaborative and hands-on approach to learning and experiencing business. As a hands-on learner and collaborator, the structure of classes, group work, and the strong alumni network drew me to the program. It is this collection of people that I have gained the most from during my time here.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the challenging and collaborative team learning aspect of this program. Equally valuable was learning from my team and cohort in addition to the professors and guest speakers. We had an extremely diverse class composed of professionals of many backgrounds, industries, ages, and walks of life that I was able to meet, that I would not have the opportunity to meet before. The different perspectives provided made me into a better student and executive.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Aside from core financial acumen skills, one of the biggest lessons from EMBA was acquiring the confidence and skill set that comes with a deeper understanding of enterprise-level challenges and decisions. I thrived in analyzing case study problems such as the timing of global expansion and how to structure these or explain why or why not with supporting analysis. This provided real world experience and it equipped me to be a sharper executive with an extensive toolkit.

On the soft skill-side, it was the importance of emotional intelligence to become a leader. Self-awareness is pivotal to personal and professional success. If you understand emotional intelligence, then that is amazing because you understand people, situations, and yourself. That has been my other biggest tool. Having emotional intelligence and being resilient has allowed me to get knocked down and pick myself back up.

Finance as the language of business was easy to understand and continue to apply within my role. Understanding the financial decisions an enterprise faces regarding research and development or global expansion as well as the timing of acquisitions, for example, are lessons learned and critical understanding needed for any future C-Suite executive. From a marketing perspective, successful brands will evolve their marketing in today’s digital world and for homes with technology-enabled assistants. To do so, brands will have to win not only the hearts and minds with their marketing media mix as in the past but also, to exist in the future, brands must win the home space…at home and on where we place our apps on our phones. This is critical and a differentiating point for how brands will position themselves to win the addressable market of any industry and targeting segments to remain relevant in the future. Brands must win all three, the hearts, the minds….and the homes!

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Communication with my husband and my kids was critical for their understanding and support of the demands of the program. They understood what times were protected and were dedicated to family and which were set aside for school. I also had to learn to let go and ask for help for things that I shared responsibility for to keep our home running and organized for our family. My husband was my biggest fan and supporter. I recall my 7-year-old twins asking about what a degree was and why I needed another one anyway? I am proud to role model attaining a graduate-level degree so that they too can believe they can achieve it if they so choose in the future. They understood in the end why I sometimes had to miss movie nights or special family or friends’ events. Initially, I took the twins to the library to do homework together. Getting together with my study group’s family members socially was also extremely helpful for the greater family understanding of program demands. On the career and work side, I delegated and empowered my team to step in and represent me when I was in class. This was immensely helpful to their development and growth. People step up to the challenge when given an opportunity, my team did this exceptionally well.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? When applying to business schools, spend time reflecting on your unique skillsets and how you can leverage these skills to grow and push others. Research the program outline and see if your goals match their program offerings. Explore how you want to lead, whether in front, supportive, or from behind and communicate your intention. Be honest with yourself, be vulnerable, and share your EMBA goals with your teammates. Be specific and clear about your goals. Your actions should be intentional and align with the direction you want to go in. Be yourself, put yourself out there, and commit fully. Share your experiences in-class sessions for much of the learning will come from examples from within your cohort. Share your stories and experiences! You will find this mutually beneficial!

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?

Myth: There is no way I will be able to pull off a school-work-life balance—the workload will be unmanageable given my other commitments.

Reality: The schedule of the USC EMBA program is tailored to fit the lives of busy professionals. The academic workload varies from person to person, but I found it was reasonable to expect about two to three nights of homework per week, plus weekend classes and team meetings/working sessions. That said, the USC EMBA program is a big commitment; having the support of your family and work is critical.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret was not taking part in some of the cohort social events. I missed a few but committed to invest the additional time to build relationships that I know now will last a lifetime. The two years go by fast; I would encourage everyone to partake in the cohort activities to build your network while there.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Pavitra Rammohan for her brilliance and preparation in all she does and general inquisitive and confident nature. Scott Sabutis for contributing to class discussions and enriching everyone’s learning.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …I was a little girl, I remember going to the bank with my mom and being completely fascinated by all the movement and commotion behind the teller. I would stand on my toes and peek over the counter. From then on, I knew I wanted to be a businesswoman. While some little kids role-played as a princess, I role-played banker!”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to become a Senior Vice President/COO or C-Suite executive and serve as a board member for various organizations.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a contributing member of the cohort who helped broadened their learning and thinking through my participation. I hope I have influenced them to take risks and challenge the status quo as I often shared examples of being an agent of change, unafraid to take big, calculated risks.

By way of background, I have received the Change-Agent Award for my out-of-the-box and strategic thinking. One example at McDonald’s was advocating and bringing to life All Day Breakfast (ADB). My San Diego market was the test market for what later became the phenomenally successful national launch of ADB in the US. Enabled by the power of our three-legged stool in Southern California, our franchisees, suppliers, and my staff, together we addressed this consumer want and need. Under my vision, advocacy, and risk-taking leadership, along with my franchisees in San Diego, I am enormously proud of our work to impact our brand and most importantly, to meet our customer wants and needs, how and when they want our delicious and nutritious breakfast food in our restaurants.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I have traveled extensively for work and pleasure; the Galapagos Islands and an African safari are on my bucket list.

What made Ofelia such an invaluable addition to the class of 2020?

“For the past fourteen years, I have been presented with an EMBA cohort of highly experienced and talented students at the end of their two-year program where I teach entrepreneurship and corporate entrepreneurship. There is never enough time for students to stand out given the short time we have together. What is more, this year we were required to execute our theme via Zoom due to COVID-19.  However, one student immediately emerged above all others, Ofelia Kumpf, as a co-educator, storyteller, leader and inspiration to all in the cohort. She will be remembered as the “one” who stood out in a program of high achievers by me and my colleagues.

Throughout the Entrepreneurship Theme in the USC Marshall EMBA Program, Ofelia Kumpf was front and center contributing insightful thoughts and professional experiences to our class discussion on corporate entrepreneurship. As a senior executive at McDonald’s Corporation, Ofelia spoke from deep experience. We learned of her incredible journey at McDonald’s, where she has made a significant impact to the company’s long-term financial success while at the same time increasing customer satisfaction. In short, she has made and continues to make a “difference” in her professional career.

Ofelia captivated the class with her deep understanding of how corporate innovations get done.  Through her storytelling, it became clear that her success as a corporate entrepreneur and leader at McDonald’s has been rooted in her qualities of integrity, positivity, resilience, vision, courage, passion and humility. As a result, her class colleagues looked to her for guidance as to how they might pursue corporate entrepreneurship innovations at their companies.

At USC Marshall School of Business, we are proud to include Ofelia Kumpf as a member of the Trojan Family.”

Steven Mednick
Associate Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship
Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies
Marshall School of Business
University of Southern California


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