Hometown: Niceville, FL
Fun fact about yourself: I grew up as a military brat, so I’ve lived in 11 states and 12 cities within the United States!
Undergraduate School and Degree:
- Undergraduate: Tulane University, Bachelor of Science in Psychology
- Graduate: The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies of Theology and Culture
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I briefly worked as a Program Coordinator at Soccer Shots Houston and, prior to that, as a sixth-grade teacher at Yes Prep Public Schools.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I interned with Amazon in Seattle as a Senior Program Manager.
Where will you be working after graduation? Following graduation, I will join Accenture Strategy as a Senior Strategy Consultant.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
- VP of Men as Allies (Women in Business) – Plan and coordinate events and panels featuring female business leaders; Increase Men as Allies members by 300%; serve as support for other VP roles
- Athletics Co-Chair – Meet weekly with other co-chairs to plan and implement athletic events, ranging from intramurals and fitness classes to school-wide tailgates and watch parties
- MBA Student Ambassador – Meet with prospective students and participate in monthly Admission’s panels and events
- MBA Applicant Interviewer – Partner with full-time Scheller staff to interview Scheller MBA applicants to aid in determining acceptance decisions
- Undergraduate 1-on-1 Leadership Coach – Meet bi-weekly with 3-4 undergraduate students/semester to improve students’ leadership, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills
- Teaching Assistant – Support an undergraduate professor and classroom of 48 students through grading, communication, and logistics, including coordinating eight guest speakers
- Board Fellow for La Amistad – Serve as a non-voting board member for La Amistad, an afterschool educational program serving Atlanta’s Latino community; assist in multiple projects, including producing an HR handbook and reviewing and editing the board bylaws
- Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Fellow
- Merit Fellowship Recipient
- CHARGE Leadership Fellow
- Annual Scheller New Orleans Service Trip with SBP
- Pro Bono Nonprofit Consulting Practicum
- Scheller Day of Service
- ROMBA Conference Session Director
Annual NAIOP Real Estate College Challenge – 1st Place
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While I had the opportunity to serve and work in many different capacities during my time at Scheller, including working with several nonprofits around the Atlanta metro area, I am most proud of my work with co-leading the Athletics’ committee.
Besides organizing outings to sporting events, group fitness classes, and various athletic competitions, the focus in the fall of 2021 was orchestrating six tailgates for Georgia Tech’s home football games. Each tailgate was attended by hundreds of students, alumni, faculty, and family members, and many stated it was the highlight of their week, especially after all tailgates were cancelled in the fall of 2020. Each week, it was incredibly rewarding to look around and see friends and classmates laughing, talking, meeting new people, and enjoying a cold drink or catered Waffle House, Chick-Fil-A, or Dunkin’.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Prior to pursuing graduate education and my work at a small business, I taught sixth grade in an under-resourced community in Houston. While teaching brought its own share of experiences, challenges, and memories, the achievement I am most proud of was my tenure as the coach of the middle school boys’ soccer team. In between lesson planning, teaching six classes a day to 145 students, and the various admin duties that come with teaching, I’d spend time crafting the team’s practices or game plan. Tryouts brought out nearly 60 hopefuls, from which I ultimately selected 15 players. Each was gifted in their own way, but the challenge was teaching them to work together as a team and a cohesive unit. To do this, I implemented team breakfasts, team building exercises, and group workouts – things that at surface level had nothing to do with playing soccer. But by the end of the season, we had only lost a single game and made it to the semi-finals in playoffs.
I’m prouder, though, of the friendships that were formed between the team through my facilitation – friendships that have persisted through to the present, more than five years later. I’ve watched as each of them have graduated high school and gone on to pursue college or careers and success in various aspects of life. It still brings joy to see a message from one of them that starts with the words, “Hi Coach”.
Why did you choose this business school? For me, my business school search was largely organized around my search for community and place. From my first interaction with Scheller, I knew it was a place I could find that sense of belonging. A large aspect of this is the smaller class size and the intentionality with which the program office ensures a fit for each of those who receive offers while still maintaining a priority for diversity. Another major aspect was the reputation that is linked with Georgia Tech.
As technology continues to evolve, its place in business only becomes more and more vital. I knew that if I wanted to be prepared for the business world of the 21st century, a background in technology would be imperative. Finally, Atlanta is a hotbed of innovation and home to many major companies, with more and more choosing to open offices here. I knew Atlanta would be an excellent place to start a career, and Scheller is right in the heart of it all.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Steve Salbu teaches our core business ethics class at Scheller. Part of my desire to pursue a business degree is my longing to further push for the integration of business and ethics. Ethics can seem like an inherently dry topic, but Professor Salbu makes it interactive and entertaining, and he always encourages dialogue between dissenting parties.
As a result of his class, I see how ethics is linked to every business decision, and that a failure to understand and know the principles of ethics often lead to the ultimate downfall of a business. I also recognize how important it is to have a variety of perspectives represented in every conversation. Because of this class, I have pursued further opportunities focusing on the intersection of ethics and business, and I owe a major part of the development of that passion to Professor Salbu.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite event at Scheller is our TED-X style speaker series called Schell-X. I’ve had the opportunity to be a speaker twice, the first as a solo-speaker discussing the topic of being your authentic self, and the second with a small group of classmates in a lighthearted panel-style sharing our experiences being twins. It was impactful to be able to share some of my own experiences and (hopefully) pass on some aspect of knowledge I have gained over the years. I also walked away every year learning so much from my incredibly talented and brilliant fellow classmates.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I may be in the minority, but as I sit and reflect on my MBA experience, there is nothing I would do differently. Perhaps part of that comes from the military brat mindset, one in which you never know how long you have in a place, leading you to seek out the most in every experience so as to leave behind no regrets when it is finally time to say goodbye and move on.
I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships with amazing individuals who will go on to make their mark on the world. I’ve taken quite the range of classes, from Services Operations to Consumer Behavior to practicum experiences working with real world clients (and if you had told me at the beginning of my MBA how much I would enjoy Business Taxation, I probably would have laughed in your face). I have listened to executive speakers from a wide swath of industries, led committees, organized events, and served on a non-profit board. And, perhaps the most valuable, I have built lifelong connections and friendships. I suppose, then, my biggest wish was simply for more time.
What is the biggest myth about your school? “Business school at an engineering school – really?” is often one of the first questions I get when I tell someone I am earning my MBA at Georgia Tech. While there is a fair share of engineers in the MBA program, the class makeup is far more diverse with individuals pursuing a wide range of post-MBA careers, including consulting, tech, and marketing. Additionally, it isn’t necessary to have a background in mathematics or engineering to be successful in the analytic-based core classes. If anything, the tie to Georgia Tech only provides more opportunities to see the intersection between cutting-edge technology and business.
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? From the outset of the application process, I made a commitment to myself to be my authentic self through it all. Part of that was due to the necessity to articulate the rationale to pivot from education and a research-heavy masters by emphasizing my desire to bridge my previous people-sided focus with the business world.
Another aspect of that was sharing my concerns with being out and gay in an area historically dominated by straight men and ensuring LGBTQ representation was a value shared by my program. Ultimately, joining an MBA program is about finding mutual fit, and if there isn’t full authenticity and transparency on both sides, it impacts the final experience.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ford Lindsay is the type of person who demonstrates a sureness in who he is. A die-hard Alabama grad, self-professing Bernie-bro, cooking aficionado, and a former flight-attendant, he consistently reminds me to never judge a book by its cover. Despite experiencing a personal hardship at the beginning of our MBA program, he continued to deliver the same level of work, and brought his contagious joy to every event, trip, and classroom discussion. I’ll never cease to be amazed by how he’s able to balance part-time work, leadership roles, and classroom assignments, all while simultaneously being able to host the most incredible homemade pasta class dinner.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My undergraduate mentor, Will Tabor. Will watched as I changed my undergraduate major from Architecture to Psychology, went from teaching to working in a small business, and moved across the country to Seattle to pursue a Master of Arts. Through it all, he has asked thought-provoking questions that have led me to reflect on who I am and the impact I hope to have on the world. At every major decision point, he’d gently suggest I consider business school and highlight that it would be a good fit for me. I’m thankful for his persistence in pushing me to pursue my MBA as well as his continued guidance and advice through my MBA education.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
- Speak at a professional conference: I’ve always loved public speaking, whether from my theater background or teaching a classroom full of students. My time in my MBA program has only served to cement that, between class project presentations, moderating panels, or participating in Schell-X. And it is something I intend to continue, especially as the next generation of business leaders prepares to initiate their own forays into business schools and corporations. It is my fervent hope to be able to pass on what I have learned to audiences all over the world.
- Earn frequent flier status: I’m fully aware travel is still limited, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see the world and serve businesses in different cities and countries. How great will it be to pursue a career that allows me to both work and experience the beauty of the world.
How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I knew going into my MBA in the midst of the pandemic that there would be certain challenges. Things that had “always been done” would quickly change, and it would be extremely necessary to be flexible at a moment’s notice. That relates to how it has changed my view of a career as well. There are new opportunities and ways of doing things that would never have been considered even two years ago. And with that, there is an understanding that roles are far more flexible than we realized. Perhaps more importantly, I hope we are finally recognizing how our needs as humans must balance with our work. If we do not take care of ourselves, and, as future business leaders, of our teams and people, then our careers, businesses, and lives will suffer for it. I hope we remember that our work and careers are only as valuable as the individuals and teams behind the outcomes.
What made Josh O’Dowd such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?
“Josh’s lively, thoughtful, informed contributions to class discussions consistently demonstrate a passion for ethical business practices and a recognition of their importance to business and to the world. He has a talent for offering alternative ways of looking at tough ethical issues and choices, so that he often adds a rich new dimension to our conversations in class. His work experience as a teacher at a school dedicated to an underserved population gives him a rare perspective that’s unusual in an MBA class. For all these reasons, Josh is a superb contributor and I admire him enormously. He has a great future ahead of him.”
Cecil B. Day Chair in Business Ethics Professor
This article orignally appeared on poetsandquants.com