2016 Best MBAs: Britney Sussman, UCLA

Brittney Sussman UCLA

Britney Sussman

 
UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“For me, one of the most difficult parts has been prioritizing. I want the most out of this MBA experience meaning all things academic, professional, social, and extra-curricular, but there simply are not enough hours in the day to do it all. So, instead I focused on areas where I truly wanted to have an impact – women’s issues and human capital management issues.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Kalaheo, Kauai, Hawai’i

Education: University of Hawaii, Manoa

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Director of Corporate Member Services at Business Forward, a business policy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Hewlett-Packard in Palo Alto, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Deloitte as a Senior Consultant in their Human Capital practice.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: 1st year: Director of Professional Development, Women’s Business Connection; Section Leader, Admission Ambassador Corps; Director of Outreach, A-Days Planning Committee; 2nd year: President, Women’s Business Connection; VP of Human Capital/MCA Liaison, High Tech Business Association.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was my goal to significantly raise the profile of the Women’s Business Connection on campus. To do this, I increased the number of high-value events put on by the club, launched our ally program – the MANbassador Campaign, increased the size and scale of the Anderson Women’s Leadership Summit to over 500 attendees, and fundraised over $40,000 to pay for all of it. I’m proud to note that the rest of the student body noticed and I was voted the MBA of the Month during February, while the WBC was simultaneously voted the February Club of the Month.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I led all of Business Forward’s efforts at the 2012 Democratic Convention in Charlotte, NC. This included 15 high-profile briefings over three days between senior executives and senior Obama Administration officials. The convention success provided Business Forward with critical political clout, which they have continued to grow and will capitalize on as they prepare for the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this summer.

Favorite MBA Course? Insight to Outcome with Professor Tom Wurster. I spent my summer internship working on the Hewlett-Packard divestiture. In his class, I learned a critical set of frameworks that I used to not only look back and evaluate that specific separation, but various other corporate M&A decisions. It truly changed the way I read the news and think about business strategy.

Why did you choose this business school? Three reasons – 1. I wanted to attend a top business school in a major city. 2. I wanted the school to have a strong technology industry presence. 3. It had to be located outside of the “polar vortex.” Anderson checked all the boxes, and was the best fit for me culturally.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Saying “Yes, and…” and knowing that every ounce of effort that I put into this experience would only make me a smarter, better, more capable person. It was a delightfully selfish time that wasn’t about my boss or the organization I worked for, but entirely about my own personal growth.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? It was through business school that I discovered my professional passion – human capital management. It is a field that I have become deeply involved in through HARRT at UCLA and other on-campus opportunities, and I am excited to make it my career. My business school journey was instrumental in helping me identify that.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? One of the most surprising parts of business school came on Day 1 of Orientation when we did our one-minute introductions in our sections. I was floored by how smart, accomplished, and interesting all of my classmates were. The Admissions office at Anderson does a phenomenal job bringing together the best and brightest.

What was the hardest part of business school? For me, one of the most difficult parts has been prioritizing. I want the most out of this MBA experience meaning all things academic, professional, social, and extra-curricular, but there simply are not enough hours in the day to do it all. So, instead I focused on areas where I truly wanted to have an impact – women’s issues and human capital management issues (i.e. building out that niche recruiting area on campus, changing the perception of HR among my fellow classmates, and Anderson talent acquisition).

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? The GMAT is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t let it intimidate you, but don’t get distracted by other factors until you have the score that you want.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw the private sector making more strides on the issues I care about than the public sector. Whether it was women’s issues or closing the skills gap to hire more Millennials, the corporations I worked with in Washington, D.C. were having more impact and moving a faster pace. Especially after the government shutdown in 2013, I knew that the private sector was a better fit for me and that business school was my golden ticket.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…for someone who comes from a non-profit or non-traditional background, like myself, in my mind, business school was the only option to achieve what I aim for professionally.”

What are your long-term professional goals? It is my goal to redefine how companies think about their people. In the long-term, I envision myself doing that from the C-Suite as the Chief Human Resources Officer of a Fortune 50 company.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents who always allowed me to define success by my own terms.

Fun fact about yourself: I celebrated my 21st birthday twice, once in Bali, Indonesia, then again after my flight home crossed the international date line, in Hawaii.

Favorite book: A new favorite is Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read it while in Brazil over spring break, which was impactful because I was surrounded by the haves and have nots. The inequity of what happened in Nigeria in the late 1960s became even more real.

Favorite movie: Any movie directed by Wes Anderson, Baz Luhrmann, or Woody Allen.

Favorite television show: I haven’t had much time for TV in the last two years, but I would have to say House of Cards. Between Kevin Spacey and Washington, D.C., it’s hard to beat!

Favorite vacation spot: I’m lucky that my favorite vacation spot is also my hometown – Kauai, Hawaii.

Hobbies? Surfing, yoga, hiking, diving… (really anything outside or in the water); empowering and being empowered by amazing women; and sharing the Hawaiian culture.

What made Britney such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“I first met Britney when she became the president of the Women’s Business Connection and a couple of my teammates and I invited her to lunch. The first words I thought within the first lines of our conversation were, “Thank heavens…finally!” What I meant was that based on what I was hearing, I thought that we might finally have a leader of this organization that could take it to the next level and make this group shine. In the past, the Women’s Business Connection had acted as a sort of half-baked support group without any real definition. Britney, however, came in knowing that she wanted to make the women’s conference a blockbuster event and identify key issues to bring forward in the community, to make this group advocates and advancers of women in business and develop the best possible leaders from among men and women.  She did exactly what she set out to do and took it even beyond. The Anderson Women’s Leadership Summit quadrupled in attendees as well as budget, but Britney’s group managed to raise the funds, bring key leaders to campus as keynote and panel speakers and have an incredibly smoothly run event. Britney was also a tremendous representative on the Anderson Ambassador Corps, which is the first face of Anderson with prospective and admitted students. In our office, every time we needed a representative for human capital, we looked first to Britney because we knew that she would represent us well in what and how she presented.” — Regina Regazzi, Assistant Dean and Director, Parker Career Management Center, UCLA Anderson

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