|Natalie Jayne Curts|
(MBA Class of 2016, Supply Chain, Entrepreneurship & Corporate Innovation Major)
Name: Natalie Jayne Curts
Hometown: Noblesville Indiana
Career Prior to Kelley: Before coming to Kelley I lived in China for roughly six years, and in that time I’ve had a number of different roles that shared a common thread of marketing and team building. My greatest professional accomplishment has been establishing and running my own business since 2010 – a trading company that specializes in manufacturing high quality craft works in China primarily for Western design firms. Our most successful product offering is customized instruments, particularly acoustic and electric guitars.
While living abroad I’ve been able to grow a global network of amazing friends and business contacts that has allowed me to take part in some serendipitously random opportunities! I've worked as the CEO and marketing director for a Chinese factory with over 1000 employees where I was the only foreigner that could speak Mandarin, been a part-time travel writer, led English communication and soft skills workshops to Chinese executives, and even made my big break as a commercial model for a local office supplies company and a Beijing hair salon! I've loved the variety of experiences I've had and I’m thankful for how they've shaped me.
Why did you decide to get an MBA? Pursuing my MBA had been a plan in the works for a very long time. As an undergrad I knew I wanted to do business in China and decided to first focus on becoming fluent in Mandarin and gaining a deeper understanding of the culture. I am excited by the unconventional, and learning about business from experience was a challenge I enjoyed. I knew all along that a MBA education would allow me to build upon the experiences I had and help me to fill in the gaps, but I didn’t expect how hard it would be to leave my company to come back to school. What allowed me to come back and get my MBA was finally realizing that no matter what I did my company would never be as ready as I wanted. I accepted that leaving the company I had painstakingly created was another great risk, but in the end I made the decision to just go for it; the payoff of a Kelley MBA has been totally worth it!
Why did you choose Kelley? Well, I’m from just north of Indianapolis, so I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t aware of the Kelley school. I was really sold on the school when I met with the admissions councilors during their international tour in Shanghai.
What is your favorite Kelley experience so far? Honestly, it’s a tough call. But the most delightful surprise for me has been the support, encouragement and learning offered by my beloved supply chain academy. We have two directors, Carl and Dan, who bring such wonderfully complimentary backgrounds to the academy experience. I’ve learned such a great deal about applying in the real world concepts learned during the core through the excellent events they've planned, a rich academy week experience, top speakers, data analytics seminars, introduction to the wide range of supply chain topics and, not least of all, a full day learning leadership in the forest by playing paintball.
What do you do to maintain a school/life balance? The core was rough on all of us, but I have made such wonderful friends at Kelley that I find myself continuously surrounded by positive energy! I am however a natural introvert, so for me it is very important to have time alone to recharge. In the mornings as often as possible I try to set aside 20-30 minutes of personal reflection time over breakfast and a nice, dark cup of coffee. Days where I start off with intentional reflection about the true direction of my life are always the sweetest. In the evenings as often as possible I always try to make time for a nice long jog.
Advice for women looking to go to B-school? The best advice I can offer is a quote that I’ve kept dear to my heart over the past several years by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, “All that is really worthwhile is action. Personal success or personal satisfaction are not worth another thought.” We are all called to do great things in life, consider deeply what your calling is, what you need to get there and whether getting a MBA is a necessary part of that. If it’s meant to be, it will.
One fun fact about you: I translated a couple of CDs from Chinese into English for some underground rock and folk bands in Beijing.