Rob Kirkland headshot
career outcomes


An alum’s commitment to advocating for diversity and belonging

Why it matters:

The contributions to creating a more diverse and inclusive community at Carey has earned one alumnus a Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Award.

Dedication, advocacy, and leadership. Three characteristics that not only describe the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Community Champion Award, but also 2023 recipient Rob Kirkland (MBA ’02). 

In this season of his career as finance director for the North America Stores, Consumables Product Family at Amazon, Kirkland says he now has the opportunity to turn around and help others. 

“Carey poured so much into me,” he said. “All my instructors were available to help. And for a guy who only knew the military system to be this well-positioned for a corporate career, it had a lot to do with the years I was at Carey.”

Kirkland serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council and is co-chair of the Underrepresented Groups Advisory Board. He is also involved with helping promote the Leadership Development Program, and with helping write case studies and serving as a judge in case competitions with the Summer Business Academy. Most recently, Kirkland endowed a scholarship at Carey.

Outside of his work with Carey, Kirkland says he’s talked with Johns Hopkins students over the years about making connections, mentorship, and career advice.

“We have quite a few Johns Hopkins alumni that work for Amazon, and I check in quarterly with them to share my experiences and discuss their careers,” he said.

Apart from Carey, Kirkland is co-lead for the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee for the North America Stores Finance team at Amazon. He says the company is working to enhance its recruitment pipeline, improve representation, and strengthen retention rates. 

Carey’s support system

After serving in the U.S. Army, Kirkland wasn’t sure how his military skills would translate in corporate America. With a suggestion from his wife, Kirkland enrolled in one class at Carey to help decide whether going back to school full-time was in his cards. After finishing the course, Kirkland says Professor James Calvin recommended he enroll in the Leadership Development Program. 

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“I signed up for LDP and wow–what a great introduction to not just graduate school, but Johns Hopkins as a whole,” he said. “There was no question after finishing LDP and having the caliber of instructors I had that I was going to finish my MBA at Carey.”

Eighteen months later, Kirkland graduated with the Johns Hopkins MBA.

Kirkland says the teamwork aspect throughout the MBA program was the perfect training for his professional life. It also served as a foundation for his work as an advocate and mentor in his community.

“You hear it a lot – you must effectively communicate, you must be able to influence, you need the technical competency. And working alongside others, you get the belief that we’re able to achieve even greater goals,” he said. “I still call upon the teamwork from Carey in my current position.”

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