2016 MBAs To Watch: Matthew Astphan, Boston U. (Questrom)

Matt Astphan-Boston U-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Matthew Astphan

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

Age: 30

Hometown: Attleboro, MA

Undergraduate School and Degree: Northeastern University, BS in Criminal Justice

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Amazon.com, Louisville, KY

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon.com, Pathways Operations Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President, Questrom MBA Veterans Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Along with a few classmates, I helped found the Questrom MBA Veterans Club. We’ve not only raised awareness for veterans on campus, but also helped MBA vets transition into business, through networking events with alumni and locally based companies.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 in command of 40 Marines. We provided security for over 15 villages while overseeing the construction and opening of a new school, a health clinic, and a police station. We even held the first democratic election in the area since the Taliban had taken power 20 years earlier. We accomplished our mission, left the area better than we’d found it, and brought everyone home safe to their families. I was very proud of my Marines and how well they handled the challenges they faced.

Who is your favorite professor? Melvyn Menezes, who teaches the core Marketing Management course at Questrom

Favorite MBA Courses? Management Consulting Field Project, Negotiations, Marketing Management, Supply Chain Management

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Questrom for several reasons. First, the small class size gives it a strong sense of community. Second, BU balances the core curriculum with classes and concentrations in emerging areas, such as tech, nonprofit and health care. Finally, as a native of the area, I was eager to return to Boston after six years away.

What did you enjoy most about business school? I’ve been thankful for the diversity of my class. Not just in terms of nationalities and ethnicities, but in the work backgrounds and career aspirations. I’ve learned just as much from my classmates as from the faculty.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? It would be the importance of people. You can be the smartest and most business-savvy manager in the world, but if you can’t inspire and enlist others to help carry out your vision, then you’ll always struggle to succeed.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? I’m surprised at how strong my friendships are with people I met less than 18 months ago. I now have a network of hundreds of close friends that will work in virtually every function around the world.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time Management. I thought I knew what that meant coming from the military, but there are too many classes, networking sessions, club events, and social activities to do everything. You have to pick your battles and prioritize. I think that will carry over as a manager; you can’t be everywhere at once, so you need to put yourself at the critical and important events and let the small problems go.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be open-minded. You’ll have endless ways of customizing your education with courses, concentrations, and dual-degrees. Don’t be afraid to explore your interests academically or professionally. I was sure that consulting was where I’d end up after graduation, but after a few months I realized it wasn’t the best fit for me. I leveraged the career center, took a few chances, and ultimately landed a great internship.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I began the transition from the military into the civilian world. I wanted to transfer my leadership and management skills into Corporate America, but lacked a foundation in business. Business school was the only way I could bridge that gap.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… leading a team of 200 infantry Marines on a deployment to a combat zone.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I recently read a case on Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks) and was immediately impressed by his authenticity and humility. Despite his success, he has never forgotten where he came from or who helped him reach his goals. He’s also admired globally for his integrity and sound business ethics.

What are your long-term professional goals? Beyond the next few years, I’m not entirely sure. I enjoy operations, so I hope to shift to a more strategic role in supply chain at Amazon. I plan to take my career one step at a time and see how things evolve. As long as I enjoy getting out of bed and going to work every day for a company and coworkers I care about, I’ll be happy.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would thank my parents for their endless support. Whenever I’ve been at a crossroads in my life, they’ve been able to see through the nonsense and get me to focus on what’s really important. They’ve always had my best interests in mind when offering their advice and they never pressure me. They’d be happy to see me walking dogs for a living if it made me happy.

Fun fact about yourself: I love learning new languages, and have studied French, Spanish, Arabic, and Pashto.

Favorite book: On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Favorite movie: The Departed

Favorite musical performer: The Black Keys

Favorite television show: “Seinfeld”

Favorite vacation spot: Any beach in Rhode Island

Hobbies? Hiking, running, golfing — whatever gets me outdoors

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

“The best way to describe Matt is that he is a genuinely nice person. He is more reserved than some of our student leaders, but he gets results nonetheless. He has worked to raise awareness about veterans on campus and has worked with others to create the first MBA Veterans Club at Questrom. He is very involved in helping MBA veterans transition into business, and I know he will continue that work in his new role at Amazon next year. There are many student leaders on campus, but the reason Matt sticks out is that he is truly genuine and kind. He is not afraid to express appreciation or offer a helping hand. He is known by his classmates and administration as someone who is a pleasure to work with, and he has become a role model to many.”

J.P. Matychak

Associate Dean for Student Experience and Services

Emily Libby

Director, MBA Programs



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