Our Stories

Getting to ‘Personal Scale’

Small class size made huge difference for Ben Varhula

Ben Varhula
Summer Consultant, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Vanderbilt MBA 2022

Ben Varhula had mulled over the decision of whether to pursue an MBA for a couple of years. He believed his experience working for a nonprofit had provided good training but, he says, “I needed more analytical skills to take my career to the next level.”

He was attracted to Vanderbilt for its smaller class size, its emphasis on leadership development, and its global network. “I really think the small class size creates a strong connection to the school, and it allows Owen to live out its mantra of ‘personal scale,’” Ben says. “I’m able to know every single person in my class.”

There was one other important factor in Ben’s choice: he and his fiancée planned to pursue MBAs simultaneously. They needed to find a school that was a good fit for both of them.

When they visited Vanderbilt for Discover Weekend in November 2019, Ben recalls, “It felt like one of those ‘this is the place we need to be’ moments. The interactions with the admissions staff, professors, and students were major factors in us deciding to attend. We felt so welcomed by everyone, and each person we talked to made us already feel like part of the Owen family. I felt that personal scale on a major level that weekend.”

Ben also experienced the personal scale through the LDP program. “Getting access to an executive coach this early in my career has been invaluable,” he says. The smaller program size also created more opportunities for him to develop leadership skills during his first year as an officer in student clubs (he serves in the Men as Allies Club, the Operations Management Club, the Jewish Business Club, and as a fellow for Recruitment and Admissions and on the Turner Family Center board.

Ben credits the tight-knit community with helping him settle on a career direction. “I started my time at Owen considering a few different paths, but through conversations with my classmates, second-year students, staff, and alumni, I’ve been able to determine a future that will help me succeed in my life and career goals,” he says. “I went from being a nonprofit professional to interning with one of the best consulting firms in the world. My future has changed dramatically!”

Fun Fact: A lifelong fan of the Chicago Cubs, Ben was able to attend a World Series game at Wrigley Field in 2016, the year the Cubbies broke a drought of more than 100 years to claim the title.

I went from being a nonprofit professional to interning with one of the best consulting firms in the world.