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Alex Williams | MBA '17


“I’ll be honest… It was scary,” Alex Williams says, reflecting on his cross-country trip to Purdue University for the first time.

Mind you, this is a man who had faced uncertainty before. Four years prior, hopes of a promising collegiate basketball career were dashed when he was forced to medically retire due to a rash of injuries.

“After five reconstructive knee surgeries, the doctors told me I should stop playing competitively if I wanted to be able to walk at 25,” Williams says.

While that trying time forced him to leave one part of his life behind, the move to Purdue meant he was leaving everything else as well. At the time, the lifelong native of the Pacific Northwest knew no one who lived east of Montana. In fact, his drive to Purdue University for the first day of orientation was the first time he had even been to the Midwest.

“I wanted to move outside of my comfort zone, and Indiana was certainly that for me,” Williams says.

But it wasn't just the unknown that drew him to the Midwest. It was the return on investment (ROI). While Purdue’s MBA was ranked #3 for ROI at the time, Williams intensely scrutinized the field of business schools with his own ROI evaluation. Incorporating factors like cost of attendance, average GMAT, placement salary, cost of living, and a variety of other metrics, Williams determined that the Purdue MBA was his clear cut first choice.

Even with its exceptional return, the Purdue MBA still over-delivered.

“I vastly underestimated the deep connections I would make during my MBA. It felt like family from day one. Within a week, I made friends. Within a month, I had made lifelong friends,” Williams says.

The analytical focus was a natural fit for Williams’ strengths, but he notes that the Purdue MBA considerably broadened the scope of his quantitative skill set due to rigorous exposure to a variety of methods and techniques. He also learned how to communicate the language of analytics to others, which enabled him to generate buy-in among peers.

The soft skill development was really key for me. The Purdue MBA helps you think differently and through experiences like case competitions, you learn how to persuade and develop consensus which is so important in business.He also gleaned several career development tips from his graduate assistantship in the Krannert Professional Development Center (KPDC) but cites his experience presenting his elevator pitch in class as critical to his professional development.

“I remember giving my pitch in front of a class, it was recorded too, and I bombed it so badly. It was embarrassing and humbling. It revealed a weakness of mine and I realized I needed to improve on establishing my brand. It was a great lesson and helped me learn quickly how to present in front of others and sell myself with polish,” Williams says.

That refinement came to fruition at the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) career fair. Williams was able to land an internship with what was then Shire (now Takeda), where he was part of a team that traveled to Switzerland to support the global launch of a new product.

Now, as a Senior Manager in marketing for a global biopharmaceutical company, Takeda, Williams works in the Multi-Channel Marketing Division tasked with delivering marketing excellence through “the right communication, using the right touchpoints to the right audience at the right time”.

While he enjoys the creative, strategic, and analytical elements of marketing, Williams still feels the tug of his roots as an athlete. His next goal is to lead a marketing team. Leadership positions in Purdue’s student organizations further fueled this passion and provided a blueprint for building teams, fostering relationships, and developing personnel in marketing.

Already experiencing a rapid career rise in a growing company, Williams feels well-positioned for what the future holds. Above all, he cites two key factors that help shape the Purdue MBA.

“Purdue fosters such an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s the perfect place for those who want to carve their own path. It also develops grit in a person. Nothing is handed to you, and that drive takes you further,” Williams says.

By taking one small step out of his comfort zone, Alex left an uncertain future and re-forged a path toward a new dream.

That's Alex's Giant Leap.