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Posted 11.14.06

Weatherheadlines sat down with Julie Koons, a part-time MBA student, to talk about being an elite Olympic athlete, juggling school and work, and her wish to eat pumpkin pie while chatting with Brett Favre.

Q: In which program are you currently enrolled?
I’m in the Part-time evening MBA program.

Q: Where are you originally from? What brought you to Weatherhead?
I am originally from New Berlin, WI, however, I moved to Marquette, MI when I was 14 to train and compete in the sport of short track speedskating as part of the U.S. National Team. I lived there for three years and then moved to Colorado Springs, CO to live at the US Olympic Training Center for six years. I moved to Cleveland a little over three years ago after retiring from my sport and graduating from college at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. My husband, who is a native of Cleveland, is the reason why I moved here. I always knew I wanted to get my MBA, so I was thrilled to learn about Case and the Weatherhead School of Management.

Q: What about your time prior to Weatherhead? Did you work before starting the Part-Time MBA program?
I have been working for the past two and a half years at IMG as the Sales & Marketing Manager for the Smucker’s Stars on Ice tour. Before that, I worked for a short time as a Sales Manager at the Residence Inn by Marriott.

Q: You mentioned being an Olympic athlete. Could you tell us a little bit about your experiences in the Olympic Games?
I was a member of both the 1998 and 2002 US Winter Olympic Teams, which were held in Nagano, Japan and Salt Lake City, UT, respectively, as a member of the Short Track Speedskating Team. Both experiences were amazing, but the 2002 Olympic Games, being held in the US, were the most memorable. My entire family and many of my friends were able to come and watch me compete, and my brother (who was also a member of the 1994 Olympic Team) was also a part of the team as my coach. Walking together in the opening ceremonies was our dream when we first started skating so for us to actually realize this dream was unbelievable. I could probably write a book about all of the unique experiences I’ve had as an elite athlete, but that experience is definitely at the top of my list.

Q: You mentioned you started the MBA program this past summer and you’re in your second semester. What are your impressions thus far?
Both the faculty and students I have met at Weatherhead have been great. My classes are going well, and I have enjoyed working with the students I have met from companies throughout the Cleveland area.

Q: I would imagine you have a very hectic schedule as you’re working full time while completing your degree; does the part-time program work with your schedule?
My schedule is very hectic, but the part-time program works perfectly with my schedule. It was very important to me to get my MBA at a school where I could actually attend class and meet face-to-face with the professors and students, so to be able to do this and still work full time has been great.

Q: Do you have any thoughts about what type of career you would like to pursue upon completion of your MBA?
Being an elite athlete, I was always interested in a career in sports marketing, so I was happy to land a job at IMG. I enjoy working in this field; however, I have also always been interested in a career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. Since I began the MBA program, I have taken the time to research the pharmaceutical industry more closely and have decided to pursue a career in this field in the near future.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a very active person and love to be outdoors. Some of my favorite activities include running, hiking, scuba diving, waterskiing, kayaking, and snowboarding. I also love to travel and visit family whenever possible.

Q: The Thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner. What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?
I have a huge sweet tooth so my favorite food would have to be pumpkin pie with Cool Whip on top.

Q: If you could invite any famous person (living or dead) to your Thanksgiving celebration, who would it be and why?
Interesting question… Well, my favorite Thanksgiving pastime is watching football with my dad, so since we are Packer fans, I would have to invite Brett Favre. Most importantly, if Brett came to Thanksgiving dinner the rest of my family would be guaranteed to travel to Cleveland and join us. In addition, as an athlete myself, I have always admired and respected Brett’s abilities as a leader, teammate and role model, and I would love the opportunity to learn more about how he has come to be so successful at what he does.

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