Kristen Mezzapelle

Woman seated a desk with coffee cup

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin School of Business
MBA Graduation Year: 2019
Specialization: Supply Chain Management
Hometown: San Ramon, California
Internship: Ingredion, Inc.; Westchester, Illinois
Position: Senior Program Manager, CloudPath Leadership Development for Amazon Web Services; Seattle, Washington


Howard Schultz, chairman and former CEO of Starbucks, has been a role model for me ever since I worked at Starbucks as a barista in high school. His passion and focus on the “third place,” which emphasizes the customer experience, has no doubt contributed to Starbucks’ growth and success. It sparked my passion to be a champion of the customer experience and was definitely a driving force in my decision to return to school.

I began my MBA program search without specialization or supply chain in mind. When I met Grainger Center Director Jake Dean at an MBA fair in San Francisco, I learned that what I wanted to do was actually called supply chain management. Wisconsin has an excellent MBA program overall, and one of the top supply chain programs in the country. I knew I could get a great education in general management while learning specialized operations skills to help me make a big impact in any organization.

I got a great first impression of Madison when I came to campus for newly admitted students’ weekend. I loved the city, the student union terrace along the lake, and the food. The school puts a lot of time and effort into welcoming everybody for that event. To top it off, I met many of my future classmates, who are some of the most amazing people I have ever met! I usually trust my gut instinct and this felt like home.

Diversity is the beauty of this program, providing perspective that will take you far
as you climb that career ladder and build relationships.

—Kristen Mezzapelle (MBA ’19)

In my first semester, I was on a team picked to compete against eight other universities at the final round of the national Deloitte Supply Chain competition. We had ten hours to assess an RFP and give supply chain-based recommendations for the integration of two merged appliance organizations. It was a great experience that relied on communication, quick decision-making and compromise.

The following year, I was on a team with my fellow supply chain classmates competing against 14 other universities at TCU’s Annual Supply Chain Case Competition. We had 24 hours to assess the case and give supply chain-based recommendations using geographic information system software to create an optimal solution focusing on fulfillment center capacity issues due to online order growth. We placed third overall in the competition based on our realistic cost, customer, and environment-focused solution.

Diversity is the beauty of this program, providing perspective that will take you far as you climb that career ladder and build relationships. Participating in many group projects with people who have a variety of backgrounds and job experiences opened my eyes to different approaches to problem-solving.

My internship at Ingredion gave me invaluable supply chain knowledge. I learned how supply chain affects all functional areas of a company, not just operations. All departments at Ingredion worked with supply chain to accomplish their financial, manufacturing, or marketing goals. I learned how to extract the right data and make sense of it. I also learned that a transparent supply chain can improve and streamline processes to save money and eliminate waste.

The WSB culture is very supportive and close-knit. Small class sizes make it easier to get to know classmates by name, and working in teams throughout the year helps foster lasting relationships—as do weekly happy hours and other social events. There is always an opportunity to hang out with classmates, which gives you an instant Madison family. Plus, really involved alumni are a big part of the b-school culture. Alumni are very engaged and responsive and go out of their way to help students succeed.