Our Stories

Transforming Herself for Business

Stieger goes from energy grid to energized career

Kristen Stieger
Senior Brand Manager, Mariani Nut Company

Vanderbilt MBA 2015

Kristen Stieger didn't come to Vanderbilt to prepare herself to earn more responsibility. She wanted to learn how to handle the kind of responsibility she'd already received.

After college at Santa Clara, the Sacramento native put her mechanical engineering degree to work for the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state's energy grid. "I was in charge of implementing all new generation projects in the state," she says. "Shortly after I arrived, the expert in this area left the company, and all the responsibility fell into my lap."

Feeling suddenly overwhelmed, Kristen began looking at MBA programs. "As an engineer," she says, "I was unaware of many of the opportunities in the business world. I felt that going to business school would expand my knowledge in these areas and introduce me to career paths I didn't even know about."

When she came for Discover Weekend, "I had this overwhelming feeling that Vanderbilt was the perfect place for me," says Kristen, a self-described lover of "adrenaline-rushing activities" who has run a marathon in Hawaii, skydived in Australia and gone zorbing (rolling downhill in a life-size hamster ball) in New Zealand.

Now, she says, looking back over her two years in Nashville, "I can see the positive transformation in myself and my classmates. Throughout my time here, I was encouraged to take on leadership opportunities and work through tough situations to find solutions that I previously couldn't have envisioned as possible. This has helped me mature immensely and opened my eyes to a wealth of possibilities. I feel more confident than ever that I will succeed."