Rise and Grind
To Max McGehee, coffee is a universal language.
“It’s a peaceful product that everyone seems to enjoy,” he says. “Coffee brings people together.”
Ultimately, McGehee wants to build a career at the intersection of coffee, international relations, and supply chain management. Interested in how people interact around the globe, he spent time as an undergraduate studying abroad in Spain, China, and Costa Rica. Those experiences impacted his view of humanity. “The more I traveled, the more I saw how alike we all are, yet how our differences enrich our relationships,” McGehee says.
After earning an undergraduate degree, McGehee took a position as an international student recruiter at his alma mater, Western Kentucky University. A perfect fit, the job allowed him to continue traveling with the mission of bringing diversity and perspective back to the university.
McGehee’s role also involved processing applications and assisting with legal documents necessary for students to study in the United States. As he worked on planning and development for the program, he became interested in marketing strategy. “That type of planning drew me to supply chain,” he says. “I saw how analytics were driving the decisions we made, and I knew I was interested and wanted to develop those skills further.”
That’s when McGehee decided to apply to the Haslam MBA program. Now approaching graduation in December 2020, he has appreciated the small cohort, atmosphere of collaboration, and the diversity of professional backgrounds in the full-time program. His fellow students who hail from nonprofit, government, and military backgrounds as well as supply chain, have challenged him to approach problems in new ways and ask more intelligent questions.
In the future, he envisions a position as a global sourcing planner for a coffee company. “Cultural consciousness and sustainability are driving demand in the coffee industry, and I don’t think we’re at the peak yet of what companies are going to offer,” McGehee says. “It would be exciting to be part of an industry I’m passionate about, utilizing my skills in supply chain management and cultivating international connections.”