2016 Best MBAs: Mikayla Hart, University of Rochester

Mikayla Hart Rochester

Mikayla Hart


Simon Business School, University of Rochester

“Where is Mikayla going next? Wherever she is needed, wherever is new, wherever she wants.

Age: 27

Hometown: Hanalei, HI

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Hawaii, Finance and International Business

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Rip Curl, Senior Financial Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Accenture, New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture, Strategy Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

President – Simon Net Impact

Managing Director – Simon School Venture Capital Fund

President – Simon Outdoor Adventure Club

VP of Career Management – Graduate Business Council

Chair – Student Career Leadership Board

VP of Admissions – Simon Consortium Graduate Study of Management

Admissions Ambassador

MBA Coach

Committee Member – Dean’s 2020 Strategic Planning Committee

Committee Member – MBA Edge Communications Planning Committee

Pro-bono Consultant – Water for South Sudan (nonprofit based out of Rochester)

Recipient – Dean’s Leadership Award

Semi-finalist – Hult Prize (global social enterprise business plan competition)

Finalist – Net Impact Case Competition (sustainability-focused case competition)

3rd Place Winner – Tibetan Innovation Challenge (social impact business plan competition)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my work that involved incorporating social impact initiatives in the business school. One example of this work is restarting Simon’s chapter of Net Impact (a national organization promoting social impact and environmental sustainability through business), which developed into a very successful and active club. The most rewarding part of this experience was simply creating an environment that encouraged others to discuss and pursue their passions. I loved speaking with fellow classmates and prospective students about their passions and how to pursue those through any career trajectory. Traditional business doesn’t often foster these conversations, so providing students with an avenue to do so was immensely rewarding.

I also developed an extensive proposal to create an impact investing fund at Simon. My involvement with Net Impact and the Simon Venture Capital Fund led me to this idea because I believe socially-focused investments have huge potential to make a positive impact, therefore I developed a pitch to create an impact fund led by students and am hoping to have it approved before I graduate this June. Rochester, NY is home to some of the highest rates of poverty in the country. I wanted to help leave a lasting impact on this community and, therefore, am focusing the impact fund around poverty alleviation in Rochester. I believe that strategic investments in innovative solutions to poverty alleviation will benefit the local community as well as be a great educational experience for Simon students.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The success I’ve had in a career switch through business school leaves me with a strong sense of gratitude. I entered my MBA with a background in finance and accounting, a passion for social impact, and a goal of transitioning my career to strategy consulting. I was extremely fortunate to receive internship offers very early in my first year of the MBA, which allowed for me to focus on other community and impact-related initiatives at Simon. After interning as a Strategy Consultant with Accenture during my MBA program, it confirmed my belief that this was the perfect next step in my journey and I was fortunate again to receive a full-time offer with this firm. I believe that this transition into strategy consulting with Accenture will provide me with incredible opportunities to further develop my skills, which I hope to use to help benefit businesses, communities, and societies throughout my career.

Favorite MBA Courses? Social Entrepreneurship and Urban Impact

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Simon Business School because of its collaborative environment, warm and welcoming faculty and staff, helpful students and alumni, and scholarship offering.

What did you enjoy most about business school? My favorite part of business school was the development of a strong network of classmates, alumni, faculty, staff, and mentors from whom I’ve learned so much and value greatly. This network has helped me develop both personally and professionally and I’m confident that it will continue to do so.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? The biggest lessons I gained from business school involve interpersonal and leadership best practices in diverse scenarios. Studies of personality traits, communication styles, negotiation, and leadership, along with extensive experience in diverse teams and boards provided me with invaluable insight into how best to interact with different people and lead different teams. I believe these lessons will prove to be very valuable in my personal life and professional career.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? My answer to this question is twofold. The first is a big-picture response and the second is a specific experience.

One of the most surprising things about business school was the personal growth that I experienced through the process. I expected to grow from a traditional education perspective. However I did not anticipate the immense personal growth that occurred over these past two years. I grew up on a small island in Hawaii and interacted mostly with people who think the same way I do. I didn’t realize this point until attending business school, when I was able to meet and interact with such a diverse group of students and professionals. I learned a lot about diversity in thought and communication and was fortunate enough to go through a coaching program both by being coached and by coaching others. This process, along with many others, helped me develop personally in a way that I did not expect through business school.

One business school experience that I highly value and did not expect was the amazing opportunity to be awarded a prize from The Dalai Lama. By competing in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge, I was able to develop and present a business plan that offered entrepreneurial education and sustainable financing to Tibetan refugees living in India. Through this experience, I was fortunate enough to move to the final round and win 3rd place, allowing me to meet and be presented an award by The Dalai Lama. I have immense admiration and respect for His Holiness and will forever cherish this experience that allowed me to combine my passions with skills developed through business school.

What was the hardest part of business school? I found the most challenging aspect of business school to be time management. I filled my plate with club leadership, student governance, competition involvement, classes, job search, committee involvement, volunteer work, and many others to a point where I struggled to maintain a social and personal life. Managing and balancing my time was a huge challenge, but one that I found beneficial as I believe the experience is very applicable my career.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? My advice for anyone applying to business school is to follow your passions, build a strong network, and take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. If you’re proactive and determined, you will achieve your goals.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized I wanted a career change.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…limited, unaware that I can do anything I set mind to. This awareness is a gift that one finds when they take chances.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I admire Liz Maw, the CEO of Net Impact, because of her work to engage students and professionals around the Net Impact cause. She understands that building a strong and vast network of those interested in social and environmental-impact is a great way to enact change. I greatly value the Net Impact network and believe that it will be very helpful as I develop my career.

What are your long-term professional goals? My professional goals involve developing an advanced skill set to be applied to helping others. I believe my experience as a strategy consultant will help me further develop this skill set and I hope to eventually use it to help socially-focused businesses advance or to help profit-focused businesses become more socially-focused. I foresee this long-term goal developing via either consultancy or entrepreneurial endeavors.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I thank my first boss post-undergrad, Bryan Cotter, for believing in me and encouraging me to pursue an MBA. I come from a background where I don’t know many people who have advanced degrees (and I don’t think I knew a single person with an MBA), nor did I understand the opportunities that they present. His mentorship and advice helped me understand the degree, develop interest in pursuing it, and provided me with a resource to assist in the application and selection process. I feel very grateful for Bryan’s mentorship and thank him for helping me develop into the person I am today.

Fun fact about yourself: I love traveling and exploring new places, so I used any and all free time during the MBA program to travel and have visited new places in 12 countries thus far: USA, Thailand, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Australia, England, and France.

Favorite book: The Bernstein Bears will always remind me of childhood.

Favorite movie: Their Eyes Were Watching God (I may have a crush on Michael Ealy)

Favorite musical performer: That’s a really tough question! I’ve always loved listening to Lauryn Hill, Bob & Ziggy Marley.

Favorite television show: New Girl (Zooey Deschanel is hilarious)

Favorite vacation spot: It’s a tossup between home (Kauai, HI) and Bali, Indonesia.

Hobbies? Surfing, yoga, hiking, travel

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

“Mikayla Hart, Simon MBA ’16 and soon-to-be Accenture Strategy Consultant is one of those special people who is involved in pretty much everything at Simon that is meaningful. To say she is a natural leader and a creative strategist is an understatement. Mikayla is the go-to person for getting things done. As you can see from her application, Mikayla has initiated or enhanced many activities at Simon. She is highly respected by her peers and by the faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and recruiters who work with her. Mikayla is “an old soul” whose advice, usually delivered diplomatically and positively, is almost always spot-on.

Mikayla has had quite an impact on the Simon Business School. In her role as Vice President of Career Management, Mikayla managed student expectations, garnered support for new approaches, communicated professionally whenever “constructive” feedback had to be offered, ran meetings very efficiently, and got her team to be involved in several new initiatives including a career management survey and a Resource Guide that will be available to students in the 2016-17 academic year.

Mikayla brought her team together and into the semi-finals of the recent Hult case competition, ensuring her team got to London to present their ideas. She also motivated teams to participate in the Net Impact case competition (in which they were a finalist) and the Tibetan Innovation Challenge, in which her team came in third and she met the Dalai Lama. It is unlikely any of those teams would have existed, participated, or had the success they did, without Mikayla. She is a positive force for change and is highly influential with her classmates. She is an excellent role model of the very qualities you want in graduate business schools students—and graduates: collaborative, instinctive, creative, visionary, and interested not in just herself, but in helping others develop.

Mikayla has fun too. In her officer role with the Simon Adventure Club, she made time in her busy schedule to be sure students at Simon took time to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Her travels, hiking, surfing, yoga and other adventures bring smiles to all of our faces: “Where are you going next Mikayla?” She is an inspiration—and maybe not just to her fellow students.

Where is Mikayla going next? Wherever she is needed, wherever is new, wherever she wants. — Karen Dowd, Assistant Dean, Career Management & Corporate Engagement,Simon Business School, University of Rochester


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