2015 MBA To Watch: Anne Kiehl Friedman

Anne Kiehl Friedman

Anne Kiehl Friedman



Anne Kiehl Friedman jokes that it took a village to raise her. And now, she is applying that same concept to fighting the “word gap,” a hurdle for impoverished communities. Here, developing young brains are exposed to fewer words, stunting their educational development before school even starts. To combat this, Friedman and her peers founded Educuento, an interactive media solution that provides tools such as radio shows and parenting advice to help children in these communities. Friedman, who serves as CEO of the startup, also worked as the director of corporate social responsibility for the MBA Student Association and the vice president of the Entrepreneurship Club.

Age: 32

Hometown: Washington, DC

Undergraduate School: Stanford University

Undergraduate Degree: BA in Political Science and BA in Sociology with Honors

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Bold Ink Communications, founder

Where will you be working after graduation? Educuento, co-founder

Favorite Courses: Digital Strategy, From Innovation to Cash Flow, Entrepreneurial Finance

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus called the Hult Prize the “Nobel Prize for students.” Together with four of my favorite human beings on Earth, I founded Educuento, an interactive educational media company focused on closing the word gap to give children living in urban slums brighter futures. Educuento is in the finals for the Hult Prize, one of six teams out of over 20,000 applications. I’m proud that my team—four of the most brilliant, passionate, dedicated social entrepreneurs I know—chose me as CEO. It is both a profound vote of confidence and a humbling responsibility that I seek to be worthy of every day.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? It took a village to raise me and any success I’ve had is attributable to that community. If I started listing names, I wouldn’t be able to stop. In the interests of brevity, I owe my “success” to the women, past and present, who defied convention and challenged expectation to broaden the range of possibilities for me.

Why did you choose this business school? Because, when comparing options, I thought it would be the most life-changing. Going to live in a foreign country, where I don’t speak the language, with a 95% international student body? Incomparably life-changing. I was right.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The freedom to fail. School is a deliberately explorative environment. You are supported and encouraged to experiment outside your comfort zone. I took on leadership roles that I never would have volunteered for in the “real world,” and I’ve loved the growth that’s come from challenging myself. Every time I step into my fear rather than away from it, my world expands. It’s been a joy.

What is your most memorable moment from business school?  I hosted a pot luck Thanksgiving last year. With 48 hours’ notice, two dozen people from 17 different countries showed up with homemade dishes that represent joy and celebration in their cultures. It’s a tradition in my family to say what you’re thankful for before we eat. Last year, I was choked up with gratitude that so many friends, from so many different places, would show up to share a holiday with such generosity of spirit. I still can’t find the words to describe how special it felt.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was nearly a year into the Management and Organizations PhD program at Kellogg, and although I was learning a lot, I was unhappy. Research didn’t speak to my need to create; it wasn’t practically-applied. I wanted to start and run a social enterprise, not study them. Once I realized that, I withdrew from the PhD and applied to MBA programs.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a less interesting person.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I want at least 5,000 people’s lives to be substantially, significantly, meaningfully better because of how I lived mine. Winning the Hult Prize and delivering on our promise to provide high-quality early childhood education to 10 million children living in urban slums would make me feel like I’d accomplished my goals.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a certified yoga instructor.

Favorite book: The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Favorite movie: Top Gun

Favorite musical performer: Bonnie Raitt

Favorite television show: Empire! King Lear set in a hip-hop kingdom? Yes, please.

Favorite vacation spot: Hawaii

What are your hobbies? Writing, reading, yoga, trying to find the best burger joint in Barcelona…

Twitter Handle: @annekiehl

What made Anne such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“Anne Friedman has proved to be an exceptional student, always going the extra mile and making an exceptional contribution to the whole ESADE community.

She has organized extracurricular activities such as the Quest for Talent, an entrepreneurship event that connects startups and entrepreneurs with MBA students…Her team has also become one of just six worldwide finalists in the Hult Prize competition (Boston Regionals winner), the world’s most prestigious social entrepreneurship competition for university students.

Anne has truly captured the ESADE spirit by making the MBA experience more exciting and gratifying for her classmates. She has learned a lot during her MBA but she has also taught us so much. She is responsible, hardworking, collaborative, driven and socially responsible. She also has a generous heart and a strong will. All of these traits will surely make her an outstanding professional and a perfect pick for the best MBA student of 2015.”Gloria Batllori, Associate Dean of the MBA


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