Alumni Spotlight: Mike Dolan MBA '04

Alumni Spotlight: Mike Dolan MBA '04

Posted 2.14.06

By Kristin Hincke, Associate Director of Alumni Affairs

Timing is everything in the hit and miss arena of job hunting. Having resources that have great contacts doesn’t hurt either. Weatherhead alumni Mike Dolan, MBA 2004 was lucky enough to have both.

A native Clevelander, Mike attended John Carroll University, obtained a law degree from Cleveland State University and in the fall of 2002, entered the full-time MBA program at Weatherhead. Fueled by a scholarship opportunity and the presence of IBM on campus as a recruiter, Mike hit the books hard, pursuing his dream of a career in the technology field.

“I had a background in technology,” Mike explained. “My father started me in programming at a very early age, and he introduced me to computers and programming. I started off at Case with a strong technology background backed by experience working as a consultant for a boutique technology firm in Cleveland.”

His opportunity to work for his dream employer came through a connection made with a former Case computer science graduate by Mindy Kannard who at the time was working in career services at the Weatherhead.

“I never understood the magnitude of this opportunity until I started the program at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose,” Mike said. “The IBM Extreme Blue internship program was an incredible opportunity to manage a project team and deliver value to IBM’s executive stakeholders. I was exposed to the top senior leadership of IBM and its greatest business and technical experts. At the end of the summer, the interns visit corporate headquarters and present their projects to IBM’s senior leadership - including the Chairman and CEO, Sam Palmisano.”

“An MBA intern is expected to identify the market opportunity, work with the technical team to hit the ‘sweet spot’ in the market, and ultimately deliver a business plan for IBM executives,” Mike explained. “Because of a strong focus on balancing technology with marketing and business rigor, many of the Extreme Blue projects become very successful IBM businesses.”

At the conclusion of the internship program, all attendees were evaluated on performance and Mike received the highest level rank. His success within the internship program led to a permanent position in competitive strategy with IBM in Somers, New York.

After graduation, Mike continued the relationship-building that Mindy had helped him to establish. He helped identify and recruit three Case students into the IBM Extreme Blue internship program the next summer. These successors likewise excelled in the rigorous program, setting yet another strong image for Weatherhead. IBM’s top human resource recruiters are now well aware of the program at Weatherhead and the type of quality they can expect to see from the students in this program.

“This is an example of a great start, not yet a trend,” Mike stated. “I was given a chance, thanks to Mindy Kannard. In return, I felt obliged to help recruit more MBAs for IBM and the Extreme Blue internship program the next year. Weatherhead is now in IBM’s top preferred schools for hiring and further, grads of Case that go to IBM have opportunities to join fast track executive mentoring programs like our Marketing Leadership and Development Program (MLDP).”

Mike believes that recruiting high technology students into the MBA program is vital. “I think that the recruiting of people with technology backgrounds is becoming far more important especially these days than maybe it was ten years ago,” he explained. “ Increasingly top technology employers like IBM look for MBAs with a passion and background in technology because an innovative technology cannot be marketed the same as a new toothbrush. The technology industry aligns better with industrial marketing than say consumer marketing, and it helps immensely to have the technical background. That’s what makes Weatherhead and Case attractive to IBM because there is a pool of business professionals from a school with a history of technical and business innovation.”

Questions about this article?  Email Mike directly at

Interested in learning more about Weatherhead programs? Request more information or apply now, or register for one of over 70 open enrollment courses through Executive Education.

Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University cultivates creativity, innovation, and purpose-driven leadership to design a better world.

News Archives: