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Bill (William) Landefeld Named Poets&Quants 2023 Best & Brightest MBA

Georgia Tech Scheller's Bill (William) Landefeld has been named one of Poets&Quants 2023 Best & Brightest MBAs.
Bill (William) Landefeld

Bill (William) Landefeld

“Positive, hard-working, calm in chaos, always curious, sustainability-minded, and forever plotting outdoor adventures.”

Hometown: Kennewick, WA

Fun fact about yourself: I lived off-grid in the Daintree Rainforest in Cape Tribulation, Australia, for a year. Experiencing the rainforest and great barrier reef ecosystems firsthand while living in a low-impact community solidified my lifelong commitment to sustainability.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I graduated from Whitman College with a BA in Politics.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? When people ask me about my professional background pre-MBA, I primarily talk about my experience as an outdoor guide and educator in Australia, China, and the Pacific Northwest. I spent the bulk of my years post-undergrad leading one-to-30-day ziplining, backpacking, rock climbing, and mountaineering trips for youth and adults. That said, during COVID-19, I worked as a dynamic support tech (healthcare contractor) for RVT Solutions in the New York Presbyterian Hospital system in the ICU, Emergency Department, and MedSurge units. The experience was life-changing and grew my ability to work on high-performing teams and build emotional intelligence in high-stress, demanding, and dynamic environments.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I interned as a summer consultant for the National Park Service’s (NPS) Business Management Group (BMG) in Mesa Verde National Park. The BMG works as the internal consulting team for the NPS and works on the most impactful and innovative problems facing the NPS. I loved working with the Mesa Verde leadership team and my project partner, who was a fellow sustainability-minded MBA. The project gave me an extra appreciation for the challenging work that goes into protecting some of our country’s most precious places.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining McKinsey & Company as an associate in their Atlanta office!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

VP Consulting Club – I help run our consulting club events, including career panels, networking events, and case coaching events. The bulk of my time in my role surrounds case coaching and mentoring first-years recruiting for consulting. However, my more formal position includes communicating with recruiters and our career services team to organize recruiting events, as well as a putting together our Consulting Career Panel to expose our new first-years to what it’s like to work in consulting.

VP Net Impact – I lead Net Impact’s environmental sustainability events, connecting Scheller students with environmental sustainability careers, organizations, and opportunities. Events I’ve organized include a Sustainability Career Panel, two trips for 18 students to the Climate Cap conference, and a Georgia B-Corp Panel. We work closely with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business and our collaboration makes Scheller a great place for people interested in sustainability.

Board Fellow – As a part of Net Impact’s Board Fellows Program, I sit on Hands On Atlanta’s Board in a non-voting capacity. Attending their annual Board Retreat was an incredible learning opportunity. Getting closer connected with impactful organizations in Atlanta makes me feel much more connected to Atlanta as a transplant!

MBA Social Impact Fellow at the Purposeful Growth Institute – As one of around 20 fellows, I spent my summer connecting with like-minded MBAs across the country by meeting to talk about sustainability and social impact.

Graduate Research Assistant, Strategy & Innovation – For the past four semesters, I have been a teaching assistant for Professor William Todd’s Management in the Healthcare Sector class. I love attending the lectures and connecting with our talented undergraduate students. I strive to be a Professor of the Practice one day.

Consulting Case Coach – As a second-year MBA, I case and mentor a lot of our first years in preparation for their consulting interviews. While I was recruiting, the second-year case coaches were invaluable, and I love being able to give back to the community now as a second-year. The case coaching and mentorship of consulting club has been one of my most rewarding parts of Scheller.

Peer Mentor – I mentor three first-year students in our MBA program by supporting and encouraging them through their MBA journey from getting connected to the Scheller ecosystem to helping with recruiting and having fun around Atlanta.

Ray C. Anderson Center (RCAC) Sustainability Fellow – I participated in the Ray C Anderson Center for Sustainable Business’s fellowship program that connects sustainability-driven undergraduate and graduate students to learn about sustainability and work on sustainability projects. Like Net Impact, the RCAC plugged me into the sustainability ecosystem at Georgia Tech and Atlanta!

Student Interviewer and MBA Ambassador – I was selected for both positions by the MBA Admissions Committee to connect with students interested in Scheller’s MBA program by speaking on informational panels, attending networking events, conducting admissions interviews, and helping students align their goals to the MBA program that best fits them.

Member of Women in Business, Scheller Pride, Strategy & Innovation, Entrepreneur, and Tech Club – One of the best parts of Scheller is joining all the clubs that your peers are passionate about and going to events that they host, volunteering with them, and learning amongst them!

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Sitting on the Board of Hands On Atlanta has been my most interesting and rewarding experience in b-school. Attending their Board Retreat, where we workshopped their three-to-five-year strategic plan was one of the most meaningful hands-on (pun only semi-intended) educational experiences I’ve had during my time at Scheller. It’s exactly what I envisioned what MBA life would be like! It has been a particularly interesting experience as I’m also taking a class on Responsible Corporate Governance, where we learn about how different boards work. My experience has reinforced my desire to continue serving on boards with impactful missions I’m passionate about throughout my career.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m proud of working the most “in the field” days for two straight years at YMCA Boys Outdoor Leadership & Girls Outdoor Leadership (BOLD & GOLD), by leading backpacking, rock climbing, alpine climbing, and mountaineering trips. Getting to work with hundreds of youths, including at-risk youth, was incredibly rewarding. In my mind, being told by caregivers you made a lasting, positive impact in their child’s life is the best feedback I could ever receive. It made the all-day work in the backcountry for three-plus weeks well worth it. Mentoring kids entirely new to wilderness and watching them undergo complete transformations over the course of our adventures was as rewarding as it gets. It has continued to inspire me to keep giving back to the communities I’m a part of.

Why did you choose this business school? When applying to different b-schools, I first looked for programs that had a strong sustainability component to the program, which Scheller exemplifies with the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business. Truth be told, I was on Poets&Quants and saw a photo of a fellow Whitman alumnus that I recognized on Scheller’s page! I then messaged him to chat about his experience at Scheller’s MBA. He said that Scheller had an up-and-coming feel to it that he loves. He said he had a really good experience in large part because of Scheller’s tight-knit, inclusive, and teamwork-oriented community. When I asked about the student’s interests and passions, he noted he had classmates interested in sustainability and who cared about being purpose-oriented in their careers, which really resonated with me! Fast forward to our two-week orientation in Atlanta and I immediately felt the vibe! My classmates genuinely wanted to form meaningful relationships with me, and the community supported me to find purpose in my career while pushing me to achieve my goals.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course was the Sustainability Practicum! This course is one part Consulting 101 and one part a real-world sustainability consulting project with a Georgia-based client. I enjoyed the course because it gave us the opportunity to work on a real-world sustainability challenge for a company. Michael Oxman and Bob Lax, a former Accenture Partner, taught us the fundamentals on how to approach a consulting engagement, teaching us how to draft up a Letter of Engagement, develop a hypothesis tree, create a project plan, approach our final presentation by beginning with the end in mind, and produce a ghost deck. Our project team supported Southwire, and specifically helped them build a roadmap for electrifying their fleet. While it was one of the most time-consuming courses I have had, I absolutely loved working with teammates, Molly and Akihiro, and we all agree that it was one of the most rewarding experiences we had at Scheller!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition at Scheller is SchellX, a TedX-inspired event where students talk about a topic of their choosing. While many students choose a topic that they are passionate about, my favorite ones are when students talk about their personal experiences. My first year, I spoke about the “Guide Lifestyle,” where I shared what it was like to be a professional outdoor guide, what I loved about it, and what made me leave that lifestyle. My second year, I loved hearing my classmate Spenser talk about living in South America in the remote rainforest climbing trees to study macaws! The fact that many of them have the courage to be so vulnerable with their classmates speaks volumes to the supportive community we have developed at Scheller.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Oh gosh, to be honest, the hardest part of the MBA is having to say no to things. I don’t wish I did anything differently; I just wish I could say yes to literally everything! For my last semester, I’m glad that I can explore Atlanta more and get out of the MBA bubble more than my first three semesters. However, I am glad I really dove into the experience head-first from the start.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Coming from the West Coast, when I tell people that I go to Georgia Tech, they typically get really impressed and ask what I’m going to do in tech. When I tell them I’m getting my MBA, their response is usually something along the lines of, “Oh, I’m sure that’s great too.” I appreciate the tremendous strength of Georgia Tech’s engineering program, but that said, you don’t need to be an engineer or tech guru to go to Georgia Tech! While I do have some impressive classmates with engineering and tech backgrounds, many are more like me and come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have a range of careers they are pursuing. Yes, we do have some of the best tech talent in the world, but we also excel at sending people into consulting, non-profits, venture capital, and more!

What surprised you the most about business school? How social it is! I thought I was fairly social in undergraduate being in a fraternity, clubs, student government, but it feels like they took 100+ people as engaged as me and threw them all into business school. The social environment at business school makes the experience incredibly engaging and you learn so much from your classmates outside of the classroom that you might not get in other programs. Our engaged community proves that Scheller and business school was the right decision for me.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think my “non-traditional” background and bringing my whole self to my interview really made me a fit for Scheller. I know I was one of the more atypical applicants compared to my peers, but I also felt confident my experiences and my personality would be valuable to the program. During my interview, I was determined to bring my whole self and that energy really matched with Scheller’s culture. The interview was so natural and engaging that I truly felt energized afterwards. I really think you just be yourself; you’ll end up where you should be.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Choosing one is really tough, but if I have to, JB Brown inspires me so much! A husband and father of two, JB balances his commitments at home while being a keystone member of our MBA program. Whether it is leading our 3.14 Pi Mile run every Thursday, treating everybody at Scheller with respect, or asking the perfect questions in class to get the class on track, JB is a true servant leader in our class. While he could be extremely successful in a variety of roles in the private sector, JB is going back to the Army to work for a mission he wholeheartedly believes in. For these reasons (and more, too numerous to put in this post), I admire JB.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to work abroad again! I really grew into myself as an adult while working in Australia and China, but have not worked abroad in five years. I know my dad loved working in London and Budapest in his early professional career, and I would also love to experience working in Europe. Second, I want to become a better coach and mentor. As an outdoor guide and educator, I loved the coaching and mentoring aspects of the work and want to continue to hone those skills in the subsequent chapters of my career.

What made Bill such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“It was a pleasure to have Bill in the Sustainable Business Practicum class where he and his two teammates developed a detailed set of recommendations for their client, a major company based in Georgia, regarding the company’s transition to electric vehicles. The team’s research, analysis, and actionable recommendations were among the best I have seen since I began teaching this course six years ago and Bill effectively led key components of the work, as recognized by his peers. Bill was very engaged in class, asking insightful questions, and demonstrating a passion for sustainability. His leadership with Net Impact and his work as a Fellow at our Center also illustrate both his leadership and commitment to sustainability.”

Michael Oxman
Managing Director, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business
Professor of the Practice, Sustainable Business
Scheller College of Business

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