Alumni Spotlight: Chris Macke, MBA’03
If there’s anything the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us – it’s to be adaptable and creative, explains investment strategist Chris Macke, MBA’03.
With more than 25 years of experience in the finance industry, Chris has monitored domestic and global economic developments, financial markets, corporate tax policy, global trade, monetary policy and geopolitical developments. 2020 and 2021 have been unlike any other years.
“Before the virus, did I know I’d be using COVID infection rates as a tracker of the economy? Of course not. You have to be adaptable, and you have to be creative. And thanks to the Kelley MBA, I was open-minded and able to change strategies for my clients successfully,” he says.
Years after receiving the top-ranked Kelley Evening MBA, Chris thinks back to the impact it had. It opened doors and paved the way for numerous career opportunities — working for Fortune 500 companies, advising the Federal Reserve, devising investment strategy for large institutional investors and thriving in smaller, highly dynamic entrepreneurial firms. His career has taken him around the country. He’s worked in Boston, Seattle, Indianapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. And now, it’s gotten him through a global pandemic.
“Professor Phil Powell sparked my love of economics,” he added. “I’ll never forget the first day of his class. He literally threw open the door, threw down some papers and said, ‘You’ve got to know I’m an extremist! I am an extreme moderate.’ He never told us what to think — that was so brilliant and so helpful. He taught us how to think. He presented different economic ideas and maintained objectivity, and he helped us learn to think through and evaluate different economic values and theories.”
“Professor Todd Saxton’s strategy class also stands out because it made me aware that strategy is the roadmap for success,” he explained. “It provides the beginning and direction for all other decisions you make in a company.”
With that in mind, Chris wrote a book called Solutionomics, which is a business plan of sorts that focuses on solutions for achieving America’s economic potential.
“We’ve got far too much partisan politics involved in economic policy and not enough focus on solutions and strategy,” he said. “In this book, I really focus on specific solutions, applying the concept of ROI to a lot of the economic policy questions we have – all to find a better ROI for America’s tax dollars.”
“The Kelley MBA was very formative in the organization of my book,” said Chris. “In the book, I mention Congress is equivalent to the management of a company, and political parties are equivalent to feuding members on a corporate board of directors. The structure of Solutionomics came from what I learned about corporate organizational structure.”
To anyone considering an MBA, he says:
“The MBA is the new bachelor’s degree. It’s the minimum you need if you want to attain a certain career path. An MBA helps you become more productive, which helps the U.S. economy as a whole, and it makes you more valuable to your company. It also expands your career opportunities because you learn a lot of different subject areas that can apply to a wide range of companies and industries.
“I liken the MBA to a Swiss Army knife. It makes you marketable in a number of different areas, and then, you can specialize. That’s especially relevant right now because there is a big push for specialization over an MBA. To people considering a specialized course, I say: That’s great. But consider the broader context you’re missing when you specialize. Take data collection and data science. After you collect the data, you need to be able to analyze it and use it to move forward your business strategy. An MBA teaches you how to use the data, and that’s why an MBA is so critical.”
For any professional, Chris leaves them with this advice – something he believes is an important propeller through life and careers.
“Build relationships. I use the word relationships, instead of network, because relationships are lasting and far more powerful,” he said.
“Relationships take time, but it’s important time to spend. They’re not a transaction, and they take effort. You are far more successful when you bring the knowledge of many people to the table.”