Ken Kleist

Ken Kleist

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin School of Business
MBA Graduation Year: 2018
Current Job: Orthopedic Surgeon


There are many different aspects of being a surgeon. There is of course the medical side, but there are also critical business elements to the role. As a leader in orthopedic surgery, Ken Kleist chose the Wisconsin Executive MBA Program as a way to shore up his business acumen to be a more effective manager, and gain the skills to make a greater impact on health care. In his first year, Ken is excelling in the business school environment, learning new lessons from top executives and researchers, and mapping out a solidified career path.

The Wisconsin Executive MBA is equipping me with skills to excel at the business aspects of my job. At this stage in my career, I am not simply a practitioner but a manager and leader. I was recently elected chair of my department and I serve on various professional committees and boards. With an MBA from UW–Madison, I’m mastering the financial, accounting, and critical organizational skills I need to lead in these roles.

Wisconsin’s program is helping me think about strategy and management in ways I never have before. I want to make an impact on health care. Working in medicine has inspired me to take a proactive approach to solving issues within my industry. The Wisconsin Executive MBA Program is teaching me the lessons I need to be an influential leader.

I underestimated the networking aspect of the program, but it is hugely important. We often work in teams, and it’s been a great way to learn and engage with course material, while reducing everyone’s workload. We often meet outside of class too, and I have developed great friendships. I have a lot of respect for the expertise everyone brings to the table.

The instructors have been incredible and the staff really make the experience as focused on education as possible. The faculty are top-level researchers and executives who are excellent at communicating complicated concepts to executives with totally different backgrounds. The staff additionally helps the program run smoothly by providing everything from career coaching to concierge services.

As a student at Wisconsin, I’ve learned about myself and my ability to affect change. I’ve gained a deep understanding of broad topics like finance and management, while also learning everyday tools like Microsoft Excel. I’ve been able to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses and address the areas where I need focus.

My advice for people thinking about joining the program, is quit thinking about it and just do it. I’ve been wanting this for eight years and finally realized there is never a “good” time, so why not now? Especially for people like me, working outside of traditional business, the Wisconsin Executive MBA Program is a huge difference maker. I knew I needed a business education, and earning my MBA is solidifying my skills, knowledge, and career.