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Undergraduate, 2023
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Whitman Student Profiles and News

Unexpected Detour Led Student to an MBA at Whitman

Kara Montellano


  • Full-Time

Supply chain has a lot of concepts that overlap with engineering but can also be translated into different applications. And any form of analytics is going to be valuable in the future.

Kara Montellano ’23 MBA says that life “has a way of taking you on a detour you didn’t plan for.” Her most recent detour took her to Syracuse University’s Whitman School last fall to pursue an MBA with concentrations in supply chain management and business analytics. 

Montellano came to Whitman with almost a decade of engineering experience in the petrochemical industry, working as a process engineer for BP in Alabama, where she met and married her husband, an active duty officer in the Army. As a military spouse, Montellano knew she would move frequently, and she soon found herself living at Fort Drum in Upstate New York. 

“With few prospects in the oil industry in Northern New York and knowing that we’d probably be moving again every two years until my husband retires from the military, I wanted to give myself as many options as possible,” she says. “An MBA seemed like a good place to start.” 

Montellano began her studies at Whitman in fall 2021. While she wanted the overall business background of an MBA, she also wanted to pursue concentrations that would give her more versatility for future job prospects. 

“Supply chain has a lot of concepts that overlap with engineering but can also be translated into different applications,” she says. “And any form of analytics is going to be valuable in the future. I already have a foundation in this area, so if I decide to go back into engineering, that will benefit me. If not, I can apply it to so many other things.” 

In addition to her studies, Montellano is the vice president of events for Whitman Women in Business and has used her work experience to come up with professional development topics for the group. 

“Having worked in the real world rather than starting this program right after completing an undergraduate degree gives me some unique insight into what might be valuable,” she says. “Ideas — like salary negotiations and career pivoting — are things I’ve had to face in my own career.” 

Once she completes her degree in spring 2023, she might like to combine her experience as a chemical engineer with her MBA and explore the technology industry or maybe take on some kind of project management role. Whatever detours lie ahead, Montellano is certain she’ll be able to leverage the skills she’s learned at the Whitman School into new opportunities.


By Caroline K. Reff

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  • Full-Time

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