Hello world! Please change me in Site Preferences -> This Category/Section -> Lower Description Bar


Nov 2015


Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

Rob Parsley is a second year MBA at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where he is co-President of Pride@Kellogg

Tell us a bit about your background, prior work experience and career interests

I grew up in the south as the son of a minister, and I think that upbringing played a significant part of why I eventually ended up in the military. My family always functioned with a service-minded paradigm. That first led me to study nursing, and, after college, to accept a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. I worked as an Army nurse for several years in Hawaii before deploying to Afghanistan with a medical evacuation unit. After that, I moved to the East Coast and managed a program for the Army Nurse Corps in ROTC. After getting out of the military, I came to Kellogg and have been having the time of my life. I’m still very interested in healthcare, and, while I haven’t accepted a job yet, I’ll likely end up doing something with strategy and operations in that space.

What made you decide to shift from serving your country to the business world? Were you out as you went through the business school application process? 

In the first few months of my career in the Army, a mentor made an off the cuff comment to me about the importance of clinical leaders understanding the business of healthcare. The significance of that statement didn’t resonate much at the time, but the longer I served, the more it made sense. I think there is so much value to be created when business leaders in healthcare can approach problems with a clinical frame of reference. I was someone that literally had zero business training (in fact, I don’t think I ever even read the WSJ or watched CNBC until I started to seriously consider business school), so educating myself increasingly became a priority.

A lot of people in the military face a major decision point about their future somewhere around the 7-8 year mark, which is where I was at the time. At a certain point, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to leave when you can retire at 20 years, but I wasn’t ready to make that commitment yet. I was serving when DADT was repealed, and had been very closeted to virtually everyone in my life, even my family. There was something very appealing about the idea of starting a new chapter and not having to pretend to be someone else from day one. Being out in the business school application process, and as a member of the Kellogg community, was very important to me and I didn’t hesitate to make that choice.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience as being a member of the LGBTQ community while serving your country. How did DADT impact you (if at all) during your experience? How did culture change after it’s repeal?

I wasn’t out for most of my time in the military, but that had less to do with DADT than it had to do with me. I hadn’t even really come out to myself when I joined the Army and I think, on some level, I thought that I might be able to run away from my sexuality as a soldier. DADT was a great excuse, I told myself, to not have to address some of the questions I had about myself. The repeal was so significant for me not because it allowed me to come out to the world, but because it forced me to come out to myself. I think the biggest story about the change of culture was that there was no story. 

The comment has been made that as the US Armed Forces go [in terms of policy] so goes the rest of the nation. Do you think the repeal of DADT set us up for a lot of the progress we’ve been seeing in terms of national LGBTQ issues over the past 3 years?

I think so. In the WWII era, over 10% of the country was actively serving in the military, but today only about 0.5% population is serving and less than 10% ever has served, so its interesting to consider how much cultural clout the military commands. Still, there is tremendous respect for service members, and there is something to the idea that if an organization that has a stereotypically cis male heterosexual “macho” culture can make important policy changes, the rest of the country should follow suit. The military does move slow with some of these issues, but I’m optimistic about the future. Some people don’t realize that even after the repeal of DADT, trans people are still barred from serving openly in the military, but Secretary Carter is working hard to address this, and I think we will see new policies soon.

Do you think veterans bring something extra to the MBA experience? What about LGBTQ MBAs?

Absolutely! Compared to our peer set, veterans are often times some of the few business students that have actually led and managed people. Most of us have been in positions where we have had to make tough judgment calls with limited information and have had to be responsible for the lives of others. While veterans don’t always have some of the technical business acumen that others students do, these insights are invaluable in the classroom.

LGBTQ students also have a unique perspective. As a group of people that have universally been “other” at some point in life, LGBTQ people are experienced with looking at the world from a different vantage point. Being willing and able to challenge the status quo is crucial not only to the learning process, but also to success in the business world.

What advice do you have for LGBTQs currently serving their country that might one day consider going to graduate school of an MBA or business masters degree?

Go for it. You’ve had to take risks in the past, and transitioning out of uniform is certainly a major change, but there is a world of untapped possibility out there of which you are uniquely positioned to take hold.

Please select the social network you want to share this page with:


Oct 2015

Meet the LGBT MBA Fellows: Jeff Lindquist

Posted by / in LGBTQ BUSINESS STUDENT BLOG / No comments yet

The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and active ally MBAs in full-time programs.  Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year in addition free lifetime access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBT mentors, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.  Over 25 MBA programs will be party of the Fellowship for the 2015-2016 application cycle.  To learn how you can express interest in the Fellowship, click here

This fall Reaching Out welcomed the first class of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellows.  These 25 fellows come from 18 top business schools and over the next few weeks we’ll introduce each of them to you.


Jeff is an MBA Candidate (Class of 2017) at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.     Prior to joining the Kellogg MBA, Jeff worked at Navigator, Canada’s leading high-stakes public strategy and communications consulting firm. Prior to Navigator, he worked in the investment banking divisions of Canaccord Genuity in Toronto and Goldman Sachs in New York.  Jeff is deeply committed to advancing equality issues for the LGBTQ community, especially at home in Toronto. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for Egale Youth Housing, a crisis counseling center for homeless LGBTQ youth in Toronto and the driving force behind what will become Canada’s first homeless shelter and transitional housing facility devoted to these youth. He has also volunteered for Casey House, Canada’s pioneer HIV/AIDS hospice, located in Toronto. Jeff holds an Honours Business Administration degree, with Distinction, from the Ivey Business School at Western University.

What made you consider business school?
I wanted to build on what I’ve learned thus far in my career by meeting and learning from interesting, driven and diverse individuals at business school. It’s also a great opportunity to reflect, in a structured way, about what my career path may look like and, more importantly, what I can contribute to society over the course of my career. 

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
Making tons of new friends at Kellogg. The people at Kellogg are truly what makes it such a special place. And it helps that the Kellogg LGBTQ community is vibrant and active! 

Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?
Ed Clark, an LGBTQ ally and the former CEO of TD Bank Group, is the perfect example of the c-suite leader I am determined to be. He put LGBTQ issues at the cornerstone of his business strategy in the 1990s with a very simple idea: if his organization was free of prejudice, his employees could be the very best they could be. Since then, TD Bank’s support of the LGBTQ community has transcended internal HR measures and funding for pride parades – it is a part of their public identity, and builds awareness and acceptance in communities and classrooms across Canada. TD Bank’s bold stance for the LGBTQ community has had an instructive effect, and many large Canadian corporations have followed suit by tackling a wide range of diversity issues.

What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
I am a terrible chef – but a wonderful dinner guest! 

What were you doing during the summer before you started business school?
Traveling to South America and Europe, and making the move from Toronto to Evanston sometime in between!

Please select the social network you want to share this page with: