Travis Lovett, MBA’21, has always been interested in business and how it works.
“I’m fascinated by how you can take one dollar and turn it into two,” he said. “How do you create a solution to a problem that people will pay you for, how do you position yourself in the market, be competitive, and bring value? I find it all very interesting.”
As an attorney who previously practiced tribal and public law, Travis realized a need for greater business knowledge if he wanted to pursue a career in business law. He enrolled in the Evening MBA Program at the IU Kelley School of Business.
“I used the Evening MBA to bridge the gap between tribal and public law to practicing business law, and it really helped me make that transition,” Travis said. “I pursued the MBA to gain greater knowledge of business to position myself better as a business lawyer.”
Much like his pursuit of the MBA, Travis began his legal profession by seeing a need and answering it with his career path. Travis has Cherokee heritage, and he competed professionally as a Native American powwow dancer for 10 years. In 2008, he won the World Championship title, placing first at the Schemitzun World Championship Powwow in Connecticut. He began competing in the summers, and then competed full time for a few years after earning his undergraduate degree. His experiences as a powwow dancer and living in Indigenous communities inspired Travis to pursue tribal law.
“I wanted to help and legally represent the Indigenous communities with whom I’d established strong relationships through my dancing. So, after law school at Arizona State University, I went to Canada and practiced law for Indigenous communities,” Travis said. “There, I gained exposure to business transactions and economic development initiatives, which furthered my interest in business and, ultimately, motivated me to focus my area of practice on business transactions.”
To expand those capabilities, Travis chose the Kelley School of Business’s part-time program because of the school’s reputation and the hybrid model of evening classes that are held in downtown Indianapolis and online. He chose to focus his MBA in finance to learn more about the business issues his clients face.
While I’m not responsible for computing valuations, it’s helpful to understand those concepts and how they impact a transaction.”
“I often come across a company’s cash flow and valuations, and while I’m not responsible for computing those valuations, it’s helpful to understand those concepts and how they impact a transaction, such as why working capital may require an adjustment to purchase price,” Travis said. “Having the MBA allows me to better understand the business side of drafting purchase agreements. There’s always a CPA or business broker managing the numbers in these transactions but having an understanding of finance will ultimately help me negotiate purchase agreements.”
Travis completed the 24-month, top-ranked program during the COVID-19 pandemic, which added another layer to his collaborative group learning.
“Because we were going through COVID, I gained a huge advantage in the ability to collaborate and work virtually in teams,” Travis said. “The MBA also taught me the importance of emotional intelligence—having an innate understanding of where people are coming from, why they think the way they do, how they may perceive certain issues, and being empathetic to other people’s beliefs. Having a stronger understanding of emotional intelligence is helpful when you’re collaborating.”
The MBA also taught me the importance of emotional intelligence–having an innate understanding of where people are coming from.”
During the MBA program, Travis moved from the State of Indiana Attorney General’s Office to the Legislative Services Agency, and then to a new role at Krieg DeVault, where he specializes in business mergers and acquisitions to help companies negotiate buying and selling their businesses. He took advantage of the professional development services available at the Kelley School, including career coaching. Plus, he also joins the substantial network of Kelley School alumni working throughout the business world.
“The Kelley School helped me with career development. I used the career coaching to polish my resume and prepare for the interview process,” Travis said. “Coincidentally, there were six people from Krieg DeVault interviewing me, and three of the six people were Kelley alumni.”
As he transitions his career from public and tribal law into business law, Travis says having the Evening MBA skills help him innately understand his clients’ positions. He describes it like a farmer who becomes an attorney: ultimately this attorney will always understand, be acquainted with, and relate to farmers due to past experience. Travis says that’s what he similarly gained by earning an MBA: a deeper perspective to business issues.
“If your goal is to pursue business law, the Evening MBA Program gives you a look behind the curtain to see how business owners and management think and how they perceive their issues,” Travis said. “When you can speak finance, you can have those conversations and a better appreciation for how clients see their businesses. It allows me to provide better service and ultimately, develop strong relationships with the firm’s clients.”