Our Stories

Growing outside the Classroom

Reilly relishes extra opportunities to learn and make an impact

Matt Reilly
Incoming Associate Brand Manager, Mars Petcare

Vanderbilt MBA 2019

Several years into his career, Matt Reilly knew that he really wanted to work in brand management. But he couldn’t get there from where he was — in a senior consulting role with a large IT consulting firm. “I couldn’t crack into the industry on my own,” he says. “Vanderbilt was the perfect opportunity to learn the skills necessary to make that jump into marketing.”

But what really sold him on the program, he says, was “Vanderbilt’s emphasis on growth outside the classroom and impacting the community of Nashville through independent studies and organizations like the Turner Family Center — and how Vanderbilt facilitates those experiences. Their relationship with the community is unbelievable.”

Right away, Matt got involved as a strategy advisor with LETs Play, a local nonprofit organization that uses participation in sports to help immigrant and refugee children learn English (a valuable contribution in a city where more than 80 different languages are spoken by schoolchildren).

On campus, Matt serves as a senator in the Owen Student Government Association, where he enjoys the opportunity to help shape the experiences of classmates. Meanwhile, his love for craft beers led him to take a weekend, part-time job at one of his favorite places in the city: the Southern Grist Brewery in East Nashville. (Matt rates Bolton’s Hot Chicken and Mickey’s Tavern, also in East Nashville, among his other most beloved discoveries.)

As important as Matt regards his experiences to learn outside the classroom, he counts class discussions as one the program’s highlights for him so far. “It has been incredible gaining insights not just from professors but classmates as well,” he says. “Everyone brings a different series of expertise and experience to the table, so learning from everyone else has been a blast.”

The career jump, by the way, is going just fine. Near the end of his first year, Matt landed a marketing internship with MARS in the Nashville area.

Fun Fact: During one summer in college, Matt moved to Portland, Maine, and worked for the Boston Red Sox minor league baseball team there.

“Everyone brings a different series of expertise and experience to the table.”