When Dustin Kleppe, MBA’20, moved to Indianapolis, he did not have a network or a next step in his banking career. His wife was starting a medical residency at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and he was looking for an opportunity after leaving North Dakota and his position as vice president of business banking.
“I knew an MBA would allow me to be well-rounded enough to ask the right questions and to earn a seat at the table,” he says. “When my wife and I researched locations for her residency, we ranked Indianapolis at the top of the list because IU has a great radiology program for her, and there are great employment opportunities for me—and, also, a fantastic MBA program at the Kelley School of Business.”
Kleppe enrolled in the Kelley Evening MBA Program to earn his degree part time while he worked full time in an administrative position and planned his next step. Having never been to Indianapolis, Kleppe based his decision to pursue a Kelley MBA solely on program rankings, alumni feedback, and two information sessions with the program’s leadership.
“I went to my first information session right after we moved to Indy, and I really appreciated hearing from the program director, Mary Johnson, and career coach, Barry Joffe,” he says. “They reinforced what I’d learned through research.”
“I was drawn to Barry because he specializes in career transitions. Being new in the city, I felt like this was a crucial transition point for me. I knew being able to tap into a resource like Barry would be beneficial.”
Joffe offers just-in-time career coaching for Evening MBA students in order to meet them wherever they are in their careers and to help them plot their trajectories. Kleppe and Joffe met right away to discuss what Kleppe wanted to accomplish.
“It was extremely helpful. My conversations with Barry were structured around creating some career momentum so I’d be in the front of people’s minds when an opportunity arose,” says Kleppe. “Barry connected me with other Evening MBA students working in banking, and he arranged warm introductions. He made it perfectly clear: In order for this to be successful, I need to be the one who executes the plan.”
Kleppe took the advice to heart. He met with as many people as he could through coffee meetings and informational conversations to learn as much about the Indianapolis banking market as he could. Often leading with his status as a Kelley MBA student, Kleppe eventually was connected to PNC Bank through Kelley alumni, and he liked what he heard about the company. When an opportunity in business banking—his specialty—opened up, Kleppe felt confident it was the right opportunity for him.
“I’m now a business banking relationship manager at PNC, working directly with business owners to help them reach their goals,” he says. “Much like the broad lessons gained from my MBA, I need to be well-rounded enough to ask the right questions of my clients and to understand business in a variety of industries so I can deliver value for them.”
“I credit Barry with starting me on the right path and giving me excellent advice about what I need to do to create lasting career momentum.”
Kleppe says he always knew he wanted to earn an MBA from a quality school like Kelley, but he says the unanticipated benefits are those that have propelled his career forward.
“I moved to a city 15 hours away and did not have a network when I arrived,” he says. “Once I enrolled in the Evening MBA Program, I gained access to a built-in network of 200 students and thousands of alumni I can reach out to at any time. It really expedited the process.”
While the career coaching and expanded network made a huge difference for Kleppe very soon after his enrollment, he says it’s up to each student to leverage those benefits.
“You only get the things you ask for; no one’s going to just hand them to you,” he says. “Part of it is recognizing when there is an opportunity and asking for it.”
Although he’s less than a year into the Kelley Evening MBA Program, Kleppe says the lessons gained have been invaluable. The leadership lessons, especially, have reinforced his initial decision to earn a Kelley MBA.
“Kelley professors are teaching us to be business leaders,” he says. “When I think of a CEO, I do not think of someone who’s an expert in every single function of the entire organization. It’s someone who knows enough to ask the right questions and to get the most out of his or her people.”
Kleppe is able to immediately apply the coursework and hands-on learning experiences to his new position at PNC. And as he finishes his degree, he continues to meet new people and grow his network. The knowledge, skills, and relationships he’s acquiring will open new doors long into the future.
“I feel like I have a good start. It’s now just about building on that momentum.”