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John Robella

Vanderbilt MBA 2010
Senior Financial Analyst at Eastman Chemical Company

An Army of One

Robella Discovers a Different Kind of Leadership

John Robella, a nationally ranked collegiate gymnast during his days at West Point, knows a thing or two about nimble moves. One of his most adroit ones came after five years in the Army and two combat tours in Iraq: earning an MBA.

"I felt the MBA degree would help me achieve my career goals," John says. "It would provide the technical skills to overlay the leadership experience I gained from the military."

John says he chose Vanderbilt for many reasons, including the great reputation of its finance professors, the front-loaded curriculum that gave him an advantage in pursuing summer internships, and the small class size, which allowed for better interaction with professors.

Not having a traditional college experience himself, however, John didn't know what to expect. He was "pleasantly surprised by the hardworking nature of Owen students without the overbearing competitiveness that friends at other top-tier schools have mentioned." And he found Owen not only "a great place to learn, but also a great place to build your network by developing new friendships."

While John learned leadership in the Army, Owen refined his perspective—and helped him make another nimble jump from a directive military command structure to the more fluid world of business. "Owen," he says, "put me in a position to think outside the box—to develop and test different leadership styles, and create consensus and buy-in for my ideas."
Since 1969, Vanderbilt Business has been building a new kind of business leader. The kind who aren't afraid to challenge old ways of thinking. Who don't think they've heard it all before (or pretend they will ever know it all). The persistent kind. People who are ready to work harder and dig deeper, and who put ideas over ego and performance over pedigree.

We attract the kind who are looking not only to succeed in the business world but to shape it for the better. While also shaping their skills, their careers and their futures. All while shaping our own community in ways that make a lasting difference for themselves and others.

You'll find stories here of Vanderbilt Businesspeople, people much like you, who have done all these and more.

We invite you to become a World Shaper yourself. Or to recruit one. And, most of all, to read how Vanderbilt Business has become such a richly shaping experience for so many. Close