As a competitive triathlete, Max Zevin (UNC Kenan-Flagler, ’17) was used to using performance and results to measure success and progress. But during his time in Chapel Hill, Max learned the importance of falling in love with the process and learning how to learn from failure. In this interview, Max shared his reflections on his learnings as well as some of the most meaningful memories of his time in Chapel Hill.
MBASchooled: What is your favorite memory of business school?
Max: It’s hard to choose because there are so many great ones. I think my favorite memories are seeing my friends and classmates learn, grow, sometimes struggle, and ultimately find success in their professional and personal lives. Sometimes that meant casing at 10:00pm on a Tuesday, or corralling 30 second years to voluntarily give up their nights so they can give mock interviews to the first-year consulting club members. Even though some of those days seem like struggles, when you put them all together, seeing everyone learn and grow is remarkable.
MBASchooled: What will you miss most about your MBA experience?
Max: I’ll miss the people. I’ve been lucky enough to have a great group of friends, and now we’re all heading to different parts of the country. The time I’ve spent with them, whether it’s been sitting around, shooting the breeze about politics, business, setting up pranks to play on our friend Kam, or even running the football stadium stairs, has been priceless. Those friendships mean a lot, and it will be hard to not have that instant access. The upside is that no matter where I am in the world, I’ll always have a buddy who is up for lunch or a round of very bad golf.
MBASchooled: What are you most proud of from your MBA experience?
Max: I’m most proud of seeing the impact the consulting club leadership team had on the first-year class. Whether it was preparing students for case interviews, case competitions, connecting them with firms via career treks, or securing firm sponsorships so that we had the resources to help students succeed, the team made sure to leave no stone unturned. Their dedication showed in the first year recruiting outcomes too. We increased our international consulting internship offers by 250%, increased consulting offers at major firms by 150%, and won the national Deloitte Case Competition! Those types of outcomes take a ton of hard work, and being on the club leadership team is often a labor of love. Seeing everyone’s dedication was incredible, and I’m so proud to be a part of that team. I know next year’s leadership team is going to do great things, and I can’t wait to see where they take the club.
MBASchooled: What’s the most important lesson you learned in business school?
Max: I learned that the best way to succeed is to focus on the process and to be okay with failure. I came in thinking that because of my non-traditional background, business school would be a struggle. But I learned that by focusing on what I need to learn, and by being okay with failing, I could land on my feet in the long run. It’s a simple thing to say, but hard to execute when the recruiting pressure is on, and there are 400 other things that are pulling at your time. I think by being strategic about where I spent my time, and by being okay with failing, I freed myself up to be process focused. Even with my internship, I tried hard to go in with the mindset that if I had a tough summer, and consulting wasn’t for me, that would be okay. I’d learn from it, pick myself back up and do something else.
MBASchooled: What part of you has undergone the most transformation while in business school?
Max: I think I’ve built a lot more confidence in myself. Before school, I relied on my job performance and my triathlon career to give me confidence. I was scared to fail because that meant I was personally a failure. As I’ve built more confidence in myself, I’ve realized that failing is okay, and that I don’t need to compete against everyone around me all the time. That opened me up to see how incredible my classmates and peers are. Having the chance to learn from them for two years was a priceless opportunity.
MBASchooled: Who is someone who has had a positive influence on you while in business school?
Max: Professionally, Tony Morash and Melanee Swanson are definitely the two who come to mind. Tony was a year ahead of me, and along with being a great friend, he has also been a great role model. He helped me keep my head on straight with recruiting, and was always up to grab a beer or to go on a run. Melanee and I have worked closely together since the start of our first year, and I think we have very complementary strengths, so I’ve learned a ton from working with her. She always cares about her team, she’s a dynamic leader, and an absolute rockstar at anything she chooses to do. Both of them are going to do great things, and I’ve felt lucky to have them as friends, classmates and coworkers.
I also want to thank my partner for constantly encouraging me to chase my goals, even though it means I’m constantly busy, and I’ll be away from home a lot. Having someone who is so supportive about pushing me to chase my dreams makes me feel incredibly lucky.
MBASchooled: Is there anything that you haven’t gotten to do that you wish you had done?
Max: I wish I’d taken advantage of the global programs. Before school, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time abroad, and it just wasn’t a priority while I was here. That said, the school has amazing global programs, and I wish I’d had time to take advantage of them.
MBASchooled: Where do you hope to be in five years?
Max: I think everyone who goes into consulting owes it to themselves to evaluate their career every year or two, so it’s hard to say, and I’m open to however it turns out. I’d love to still be at Deloitte though, and I hope to be doing something where I get to learn every day, to help my team be successful, and to make an impact on my clients. I’ve also grown increasingly passionate about education and safe housing, so I hope to be able to give back by making an impact on a local school or community. For those of us who are lucky to have opportunities to go to business school, and to have challenging careers, we owe it to build opportunities for others to also realize their own goals.