2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Sydney Storey, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Sydney Storey (Smallbone)

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“I am a passionate person who loves to work hard and give back.”

Age: 31

Hometown: Saint Joseph, MI

Family Members: Husband – Andrew Storey

Fun fact about yourself: I won a women’s basketball national championship while playing at the University of Tennessee in college.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Tennessee – Double major in Supply Chain and Marketing

Where are you currently working? Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company – Director of Brand Strategy
I am currently working at Whirlpool Corporation; however, I start with Wolverine on May 27th, 2020. A big thanks to earning my EMBA degree at Notre Dame!

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: I was a high school varsity basketball head coach for 5 years leading up to starting my EMBA at Notre Dame. In 2017, at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, we won the Indiana state championship. The year we won, my two assistant coaches (one played basketball at Notre Dame, the other at the University of Minnesota) were also teammates of mine when we won the state championship as high school players at St. Joe in 2005. This was particularly special to me as it was a way to give back to the community and to have a positive impact on young female athletes.

Before leaving Whirlpool and starting with Wolverine Mutual, I left as a senior manager with 950+ people in my organization. I helped to lead our materials teams at four of Whirlpool’s manufacturing plants here in the United States.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My overall growth in the program. When I look back to the start of the program until now, it is amazing to think about how much I have grown. I now have the knowledge and confidence to speak up or ask a question while sitting in the room with finance or accounting colleagues. That is something I never had before.
In general, I feel more confident as a business professional and feel like the program catapulted me ahead several years in business knowledge. As I complete my degree, I am most proud to say that I am a graduate of Notre Dame and look forward to leaving a positive legacy behind me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I was in college, I had several people tell me or assume that I was going to stay in the sports industry. My college coach, Pat Summitt, even encouraged me to become a sports management major over studying supply chain and marketing. Pat always had the best interest at heart for us players and she was trying to help me save time and energy balancing school with basketball. Believe me, looking Pat Summitt in the eyes as an 18 year-old freshman and telling her that you want something different than her recommendation was not easy. As I look back now, after spending nine years in the business world, I am beyond grateful for being that stubborn 18-year-old who saw the bigger picture. Sports is something I can always reconnect with and I have by coaching at the high school level. But for me, I wanted to be a more well-rounded individual and I have worked to accomplish that in my adult life. Through my experience on sports teams and through my work experience, I feel like I am a better leader because of the situations I have been in and how I have worked to overcome the pressure that tends to come with those experiences.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the EMBA program at Notre Dame because of its leadership and ethics approach. Starting the program with the week-long Executive Integral Leadership class was one of the most impactful weeks of my life. Not only did it help to level set what my personal mission statement should be, but it allowed us as a cohort to get to know each other. I also chose the Notre Dame program because I felt a sense of peace while walking around campus. It felt like coming home to a family each and every residency.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My classmates. During the program, you learn so much from the professors and the class content; however, I learned even more from my classmates. As a class, we really got along with one another and helped each other through the program. Some of my good friends are my classmates from Notre Dame. We will always have that special bond as we worked through the program together.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I learned how to best balance the multiple aspects of my life. In some sense, it was time management on steroids while completing the program. I felt something very similar as a division one athlete in college; however, the difference this time around was the level of responsibility as an adult. One of the main learnings I had during EIL week and threaded through the entire program was to step back and ask myself if my life is balanced. It is important to assess which aspects of life you may be neglecting and which aspects of life where you may be dedicated too much time. This is a quick way to level set your day-to-day and get back on track for a more productive you.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? Halfway through the program, I got married in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. It was absolutely beautiful and something we were able to do since I was a student at Notre Dame. Getting married in the middle of the program was not an easy feat as I was juggling school, work, and wedding planning. Pulling off a successful wedding was not possible without the help of my husband and my sister. My sister, Shelby, was our wedding planner and she helped us to plan a perfect day. This was such a special day for us as I was able to share some of my time on Notre Dame’s campus as a student with all of our family and friends.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program?

Really assess the time commitment you will need to give in order to be successful. Make sure it is the right time in your life to go back to school and ensure you have the right support system in place as you will dedicate yourself to school more than one can properly prepare for.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? When the program is done and you have completed the degree it will feel like the time flew by fast. However, there will be times in the program where it feels like it is crawling, such as the first couple of semesters in particular. For me, it was important to take it one semester at a time and that helped me to compartmentalize the workload of the entire program.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Chris Laman. Chris was on my team for our second year of school. I most admire him because of his overall approach to life. He balances his family life, work-life, health, and school work better than anyone I encountered in the program. Above all, he was the nicest person to be around and always willing to help others. He is very humble and patient with others and one of the smartest people in the class. When I think of a person who best exemplifies a Notre Dame grad, I think of Chris.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I needed to challenge myself to become a more well-rounded person.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I would love to run my own business someday. I’d like that business to be one that helps others and makes a positive difference in today’s society.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a genuine person who makes others feel good about themselves.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

To start a loving family with my husband, Andrew.

Make the University of Notre Dame proud in everything I do.

What made Sydney such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Sydney brought an open mind, curiosity, and a strong work ethic to my class, which combined was a tremendous force. In class she brought a positive attitude that was infectious, resulting in questions and conversations about the material and real-world applications. Her team explored the future of U.S. Division I college athletics as it relates to football and Men’s and Women’s basketball student-athletes getting paid for their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). Sydney led her team through exploratory research into an ambiguous question, and developed scenarios as part of a thought-provoking report exploring the impact of NIL changes to Universities and student-athletes in the future.”

Chad M. Harms, Ph.D.
Associate Teaching Professor
Department of Management and Organization


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.