Matt Mangum, MBA ’13
President, Krannert Graduate Student Association

What are the primary goals of KGSA and your responsibilities as president?

The mission of KGSA is to enhance the student experience for master’s-level graduate students at Krannert. To accomplish that mission, KGSA oversees the planning and implementation of student activities and programs as well as provides support for nearly 25 clubs. KGSA-supported clubs allow students to explore a wide variety of professional, personal and cultural interests.

As president, I am responsible for the administration of the KGSA executive board and I oversee the Club Presidents Council. The board consists of nine vice presidents who are each responsible for specific missions. The president also performs a variety of other assignments as determined by both the master’s office as well as students.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishment in this role?

I am most proud of the way that student leaders challenged the status quo. This academic year we had students intimately involved in the planning of Krannert Launch (our orientation program) and other school functions, as well as the formation of several new clubs and increased levels of contribution to the student experience.

One of the new clubs formed this year was Krannert OutSource, a club aimed at the LGBTQ and ally community. This was the first such club developed specifically for students at Krannert. Other clubs such as Net Impact and the Management Volunteer Program stepped up their offerings for students. Events such as the Krannert 5K for a Cause and Mt. Trashmore added to the already rich offerings of Krannert Culture Fest, Charity Ball, tailgates, case competitions and company tours.

While I realize this is a list of other people’s accomplishments, one of the greatest lessons I learned in this role is that there are times when leaders must focus on creating a productive climate for others. The KGSA board worked very hard to create an environment where student leaders at every level felt compelled and empowered to pursue their own ideas. The high number of new clubs, level of participation in events and caliber of new offerings indicates that we were successful in creating that environment. This allowed the entire Krannert community to achieve more than we could have through singular, unsupported efforts.

What other leadership roles or experiences have you had at Purdue or in your community?

I served as a first-year representative to the KGSA executive board when I began the MBA program in 2011. For the past five years I also have worked with youth groups at my church, both here in West Lafayette and in Virginia. I have also volunteered as a youth sports coach for my son’s coach-pitch baseball team as well as my nephew’s recreational basketball team.

What are the most important lessons you’ve drawn from such experiences?

Serving as a first year representative on the KGSA board afforded me the opportunity to see some of the work that goes on behind the scenes for the students. That perspective coupled with other support I have received from Purdue helped me to understand how much of my success as a MBA student depended on others. I realized that I owed a great deal to Krannert and Purdue. It was this feeling of indebtedness that led me to run for KGSA president.

Why is leadership development important both academically and professionally?

Academic leadership development equips a student with tools to be a better leader in practice. While the academic study of leadership alone does little for the development of a student, simply putting people in leadership roles without the necessary tools is just as useless. The two go hand in hand.

For most students in a graduate business program, it comes down to becoming a more competent professional. Several times this year I found myself in meetings where the topic of the conversation turned to how the practical issues we were working on were directly related to something we discussed in the classroom. It is very gratifying to see how what we are learning applies and also see that we are effectively applying it.

How has Krannert helped you develop your leadership skills both in and out of the classroom?

In the classroom, much of the work is based on team projects. Every student has opportunities to step in and take the lead. It has been great to be a part of many teams that worked hard to put together successful projects. There also have been times when I have been on teams did not meet their objectives. Those were some humbling lessons in learning to accept responsibility and will stick with me for a long time.

There are many different ways to gain leadership experience outside the classroom, too. Each of the graduate clubs offers different opportunities –– students can work as part of case competition teams, organize tours of companies or pursue their own passions. I focused my out-of-the-classroom experience on service on the KGSA executive board, which served as a laboratory for me to explore my own leadership style and develop myself as a person. I learned a great deal and am very grateful to have been surrounded by a group of patient and understanding peers.

Whom do you most admire as a leader and why?

The first people that come to mind are two student leaders here at Krannert.

Corey Friedman served as the KGSA vice president of organizational and professional development. Over the course of the year, Corey worked on projects that impacted every single master’s student at Krannert, from assisting with job searches to leading changes to the school’s orientation program. His ability to focus and apply his work ethic to such a wide variety of issues makes him a great leader.

I also admire Jessica Rush, who served as president of Net Impact this academic year. In this role, Jessica led a voter registration drive, a community building event focusing on diversity, a service competition among clubs, and the public audit of recyclable trash in Rawls, among other efforts. Her passion to stand up for what she believes is right and her desire to foster the development of a cohesive community around her make her a great leader.