MBAs on the Move

Cornell Alum Pivoted From Marketing to Education

Tyeise Huntley Jones

  • BS, Marketing and International Business
  • MBA, Cornell University Johnson School of Business
  • Director of Network Support, Chicago Public Schools

After getting an undergraduate degree in International Business and Marketing from Georgetown, Tyeise Huntley Jones knew that business school would be part of her future. But she was surprised by her choice of MBA programs. An Atlanta native, Tyeise couldn’t imagine toughing out the winters in upstate New York, but after visiting Cornell’s Johnson School of Management during its Diversity Weekend, she couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.

After Cornell, she held brand management roles at SC Johnson and Ferrara Candy Company, but Tyeise made a major career switch in 2015 and now has a role leading strategic planning at Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third largest school district.

Current Role: Education

Describe your current role as Director of Network Support at Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

I provide strategic leadership support for our chiefs of schools (area superintendents) with a goal of improving educational outcomes for 360,000 students. For example, we design professional development programs and develop structures and tools for continuous improvement. It’s a huge district, and I also lead cross-functional collaboration among various departments at the central office to make sure we directly support our schools.

What do you like about your job?

I joined CPS through the Broad Residency, a two-year program for people with graduate degrees who are interested in transitioning to urban education. I rotated through departments, including special education, early childhood, and Strategy & Planning. The wide exposure was especially important coming from a business background. In my current role, I see the direct impact of our work on school improvement, and I’m especially interested in schools in underserved areas.

Career Path: From CPG to Education

What was your post-MBA career path?

I was at SC Johnson in brand management roles for Raid Bug Spray and Ziploc. I like brand management because you’re exposed to everything and develop a broad skill set, but I wanted to do something more fulfilling. I accepted a promotional opportunity at a candy company even though I knew it didn’t align with my interest in nutrition and wellness.  The company moved in a different strategic direction, and I was laid off after five months.

Thankfully, I was given the space to be intentional about my next move. I got the book What Color is Your Parachute? and started having coffee chats with people in my various networks and connecting through LinkedIn which led me to The Broad Residency.

How did you decide to pivot to education?

After undergrad, I volunteered for four years at a high needs elementary school in Atlanta. When I was writing my business school essays, my coach said that I came alive the most when talking about that experience. At the time, I thought, “Well, I am going to business school so I am not sure how to marry the two interests.”

Years later I learned about the Broad Residency, and in my cohort of 42, about 60 percent of us had an MBA. 

Know Thyself and Other Lessons

What are the biggest lessons you have learned along the way?

When I went to the candy company, I ignored the voice in my head that said to be courageous, take time to reflect and be introspective, and be true to myself.

What advice do you have for a young woman who is undecided about business school?

Talk to people in the industries you’re considering. One person may spark you to talk to someone else or they may suggest an article or book that helped them. Follow your curiosity, and the right path will open up. 

The Best of Times: Cornell

How did you decide to get an MBA? Why Cornell?

Through Management Leadership for Tomorrow, which supports underrepresented communities in business schools, I was exposed to Cornell. I am not a fan of cold, but I visited during Diversity Weekend and fell in love. I chose to do the marketing immersion.

Business school was one of the best times of my life. In the beginning of my career I used more of the technical and quantitative skills I learned at business school, but the softer skills have become important as I have advanced.

Do you participate in volunteer work?

I have attended Cornell’s Diversity Weekend every single year since 2007. A friend and I made a commitment to do this because we did not see a lot of minority alumni come back. It is so important for me as an African-American woman to share my experiences, be a role model, connect with students, and make myself available to them.

I love it – in fact, I received the Wilbur Parker Distinguished Alumni Award in 2017.

Word(s) that defines her:
Strategic, intentional, relationship builder

Book recommendations:
The Magic of Big Thinking by David Schwartz
Essentialism by Greg McKeown

What she does when not working:
Reading, working out, enjoying city life (museums, festivals, etc.), and having adventures with her husband and two young sons

Words of wisdom that inspire her:
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – Colin Powell

Song that makes her turn up the volume:
Just fine – by Mary J. Blige

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