2015 MBA to Watch: Jessica Cortez Kimball

Jessica Cortez Kimball Profile Image

Jessica Cortez Kimball


UCLA Anderson School of Management

What do leaders do when they see an issue? They draw up a solution. And that’s exactly what Jessica Cortez Kimball did when she observed that many of the clubs committed to diversity issues lacked the personnel to carry out their missions. To counter this, Cortez Kimball created a position to help them pool their resources and focus on several promising initiatives. But taking charge is nothing knew to her. Before entering Anderson, Cortez Kimball ran her own consulting firm. As a student, she also earned several awards, including the Forte Merit Fellowship and the Anderson Merit Fellowship. She will be joining Mattel in human resources after graduation.

Age: 29

Hometown: South Gate, CA

Undergraduate School: Yale University

Undergraduate Degree: B.A. Psychology

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Kimball Consultants – College Admissions (Founder and CEO)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Mattel, Inc., El Segundo, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Mattel, Inc. – Role: Human Resources Strategy Specialist

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school when my small education business grew internationally and I realized that I needed to quickly gain the business acumen to take such a venture to the next level.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would still be running my small education business and probably still learning many of the lessons I learned in business school, though at a significantly slower pace and at a less impactful level.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I have two long-term professional goals that I hope to work toward in tandem. First, I want to help build or restore a company to glory, and second, I want to continue working towards my goal of becoming the “Educational Robin Hood” for college admissions and SAT preparation.

Favorite Courses: Marketing Strategy and Planning, Business Plan Development, New Product Development

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? During my time here at UCLA Anderson, I have been enthusiastically involved in many clubs and have taken on many leadership roles. Of these, however, the contribution that I am most proud of has been my creation of the first-ever VP of Diversity and Inclusion position on our student government board. Upon starting at Anderson, I joined as many clubs as I could, including the African American group, the Latino group, the LGBT group, and the Women’s group. I quickly realized that each of these groups had great ideas for advancing our diversity efforts, but with smaller membership than other clubs, they were often limited by smaller budgets and a lack of manpower to plan larger, Anderson-wide events. As VP of Diversity and Inclusion, I have been able to work with many clubs and leaders to significantly increase our amount of high-quality, diversity programming at Anderson including:

  • Diversity Theater During Orientation: For the first time ever, we brought “Diversity Theater” to Anderson.  This is an interactive workshop covering workplace scenarios ranging from race and gender issues to working with colleagues from different backgrounds and countries.
  • FIRESIDE: Every other week, three members of the Anderson community come together to share their stories in 10-15 minute talks. Topics have ranged from the extremely personal to the extremely educational; some have been light-hearted; most have been really emotional, and all have been inspiring and thought-provoking.
  • Diversity Speaker Series: The largest of our Diversity and Inclusion goals has been bringing together the many different groups and clubs at Anderson to demonstrate the value of diversity in business. As VP of Diversity, I partnered with many of the Identity and Professional clubs at UCLA Anderson to put on at least one Diversity speaking event every quarter with industry leaders and experts.

From all of my efforts this year and before, I have come to learn that diversity goes far beyond the color of one’s skin. Diversity of thought, perspective, and background all contribute greatly to building a community of leaders.

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My family. Although I am an only child who was raised by a single mother, my mom and my extended family have always been – and will always be – my foundation. They have taught me strength, diligence, kindness, compassion, and how to always find something to smile about not matter how dire a situation may be. I will be forever thankful for their unwavering support and never-ending love.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose UCLA Anderson for 3 main reasons:

  • The People: Upon first visiting Anderson, I was blown away by the caliber of students. Beyond academic prowess, every student I spoke to had such a unique and intriguing background. I found myself wanting to learn more and more about their backgrounds, interests, and goals every second that went by.
  • The Culture: I went to an undergraduate institution that highly valued collaboration, and I knew that I was looking for the same thing in an MBA program. UCLA Anderson’s focus on Shared Success is evident in almost everything we do. I personally perform best and am most excited about projects when we as a community are able to link arms and drive change together. Anderson has been the perfect MBA program to do exactly that.
  • The appreciation of Entrepreneurial Thinking: To me, being an entrepreneur is far more than just having a C-suite title on your resume. Simply put, being an entrepreneur is about being able to recognize a problem or an opportunity, to determine the most efficient course of action given your access to necessary resources, and to quickly adapt to a constantly changing environment. Anderson appreciates this focus on entrepreneurial thinking both inside the classroom and out.  Whether it’s starting a new club or leadership position or leading a professional conference, we as students are true entrepreneurs on a daily basis.

What did you enjoy most about business school? What I enjoyed most about business school was meeting fascinating and amazing people, all of whom helped me grow personally and intellectually without even trying. There are at least 3 students in my class, the class ahead of me, and the class below me that I have tried to emulate in at least one fashion or another based purely on respect. My fellow Anderson classmates are absolutely amazing!

What is your most memorable moment from business school? One of the most memorable moments I have had so far at business school came one week into orientation. We had our cohort sports day and one of the events was a tug of war. Everyone in my section banded together to surround and cheer on our team, and at that moment, I felt this phenomenal sense of camaraderie that I have luckily felt many times since then. I would like to thank my section-mates and the Anderson community for two of the best years of my life, and I am sure there will be many more Anderson memories to follow as an alum.

Fun fact about yourself: I have played the drums since age seven and in high school was part of a punk band called Fork spelled “4rk”.

Favorite book: Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

Favorite movie: Anything with Patrick Swayze

Favorite musical performer: Michael Jackson

Favorite television show: Grey’s Anatomy

Favorite vacation spot: Any great beach or camping spot

What are your hobbies? Sports (Basketball, Flag Football, and Tough Mudder), Music, Sunday Picnics with friends and family

Twitter Handle: @JessCK21

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

“Jessica is a second year student who has firmly established herself as a self-starter and a leader. She willingly, unselfishly, and collaboratively has committed herself to the goals of making UCLA Anderson a diverse and inclusive community for students. 

A Los Angeles native, Jessica started her own college admissions consulting company prior to coming to Anderson because she was drawn to entrepreneurship and wanted to help students shape their stories in unique and memorable ways. 

At Anderson, Jessica has enthusiastically taken on leadership positions in numerous organizations.  Her passion and drive for diversity and inclusion is unmatched relative to her peers.  Further, she has demonstrated innovation and social impact by advocating for the creation of the ASA (Anderson Student Association) vice president of Diversity and Inclusion position here at Anderson. She is also the co-president of AASM (African American Students in Management) and a student liaison for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management.  

Some things she has planned this year to make it a great year for diversity from a student perspective include:

  • Creating a “Diversity Coalition” and developing a unified diversity strategy for students
  • Building internal programming to support the Coalition and A-Days
  • Building external-facing programming in partnership with the Parker Career Management Center, the Office of Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations and other graduate and undergraduate student clubs on campus

Jessica is an emerging leader with a bright future ahead of her. It is clear that she has a desire to create lasting change at UCLA and she is poised to be one of Anderson’s strongest leaders for years to come.” – Kimberly Freeman, Assistant Dean, Diversity Initiatives and Community Relations


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