From Private Flight Attendant to Startup Executive, MBA Alum’s Career Reaches New Heights

Some might say that Kelly Muxworthy ’18 had an unconventional career path. A former private flight attendant with a degree in communications and a minor in psychology from Western Washington University, Muxworthy enjoyed the adventures her career afforded her, but found herself wanting more. We sat down with Muxworthy to learn how she went from cruising the skies to Director of People for a Boston-based startup — and how the MBA program helped her get there. 

School of Business (SB): Tell me a little about your professional journey between when you graduated from Western Washington University and when you ultimately enrolled in the MBA program. 

Kelly Muxworthy (KM): After college, I worked as a private flight attendant for several years where I had the opportunity to travel the world. Serendipitously, I ended up falling into business through that job. I was hired by the CEO of a public real estate investment trust called Healthcare Trust of America (HTA) to develop the firm’s first corporate flight department. Although I started as the company’s flight attendant, I was shortly thereafter promoted to Corporate Relations Manager where I got my first taste of the corporate world. I was incredibly fortunate to work directly for the CEO who taught me so much about both the industry and business strategy. After being promoted to Vice President of Corporate Communications and being exposed to higher-level business conversations, I realized that although I had found a passion in business, I was lacking the acumen needed to propel me to the next level. So, I started looking into MBA programs to round out my experience. 

SB: Why did you decide to pursue your MBA?

KM: I definitely always wanted to go back to school after getting my four-year degree. My parents used to joke that if I could go to school forever, I would, and they’re right. I was always a bookworm, but I struggled to find direction of where I wanted to funnel that [energy]. My experience working at HTA helped focus my interests and was a big reason I decided to go to business school. 

SB: What about the program persuaded you to apply?

KM: I was living in Charleston for work, and I really liked that it was a one-year program. I didn’t want to take off two years because I felt like I was gaining so much momentum in my career and was passionate about what I was doing. I also loved having access to the professors. As an introvert, I was really attracted to the small cohort size. I felt I would be more comfortable and have the ability to really make an impact and grow and thrive. The location was also an obvious selling point. 

SB: What attracted you to Bain Capital after graduating from the MBA program? 

KM: Bain Capital is a really prestigious private equity firm in Boston. When I worked at HTA and got involved in investor relations, I thought ‘okay, this is something I might want to get into after business school’. But working for a public company, there is a lot of volatility with the stock market so, for that reason, I had this goal of getting into private equity. A recruiter informed me of a job opening at Bain Capital where I could get in on the ground floor of the investor relations team and where there was room for a lot of growth. 

SB: What did you do while at Bain?

KM: I worked for the Director of Investor Relations in private equity, supporting fundraising efforts and ongoing investor communications and coordination. I was excited to have the best in the industry as my mentor and boss. Although I learned so much from him, I also felt compartmentalized in my role, and realized I thrive better in a more dynamic environment. That’s why I decided to move to Beam — a rapidly growing local wellness startup that specializes in selling CBD products. 

SB: What do you do in your current position at Beam?

KM: As Director of People, I work closely with the Co-CEOs to help build the infrastructure of the basic business functions. Given we are a young startup, every day is different, but that’s what I love about the job. On any given day I might be recruiting or onboarding new team members, creating board decks and speaking with investors, developing our health benefits platform, or strategizing through our budget decisions.

SB: How has the MBA program helped get you to where you are today?

KM: Stuart Williams, my mentor in the MBA program, had a huge impact on my experience and instilled in me the idea to always think about how the actions you make in business affect the stakeholders around you. That was one big reason I was excited to work at Beam, because we bring products to people that make a difference in their health and wellbeing, and we focus on ways of doing it sustainably. I learned many valuable things from various professors — Professor Kindly drilled into me the idea to always combine creative thinking along with data when analyzing business decisions. Dr. Messal’s class gave a great foundation of leadership concepts that have helped me while building company processes at Beam. Dr. DeLaurell’s conversational lectures sparked me to critically think about complex issues in the world. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the incredible friendships I have built from the program have created a personal and professional support network that I will have for a lifetime. 

SB: What are some key skills that you learned while in the program?

KM: There are a lot of different functions you find yourself in when you are at a startup, and I love being a part of that dynamic and ever-changing environment. I feel like I’m able to contribute in a meaningful way at Beam. Every day I’m learning something new, and my experience with the MBA program really helped build my confidence to be able to take on this challenge. Even though I’m faced with questions every day I may not know the answer to, I know I have the critical thinking skills and creativity to figure it out.

SB: What’s next for you?

KM: At Beam, we recently finished a major fundraising round with Obvious Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on companies solving the world’s problems in profitable ways. Being a part of the fundraising and diligence process was an incredibly rewarding experience. Now we have the resources to continue growing and achieve our goals as a company, and I’m looking forward to being an integral part of that growth.

 

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