2016 MBAs To Watch: Jovanna Youssef, UCLA (Anderson)

Jovanna Youssef-UCLA-PoetsAndQuants_MBAsToWatch2016

Jovanna Youssef

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Age: 27

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of California, Irvine, B.A. Business Economics/Accounting

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Deloitte Consulting – Senior Controller Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Apple Inc., Cupertino, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Apple Inc. Product Manager, Corporate Retail

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP Yield & Special Projects, Admissions Ambassador Corps; Lead Anderson Career Team (ACT) Coach for Technology; Wallace L Jones Fellowship

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At Anderson, I have been involved in many clubs and on-campus initiatives, but what I am most proud is my role as an Anderson Career Team (ACT) Coach for the technology industry. As an ACT coach, I led a weekly class of first-year students to prepare them for recruiting and help them secure their summer internships. For me, it was an opportunity to give back at Anderson. And it was incredibly rewarding to see the class grow and become more confident in their abilities and go on to secure their dream internships. The role also helped reveal to me just how much I had grown and learned in just a short year. Nothing has been more rewarding than the emails, texts, and phone calls from students when they receive their offers!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While at Deloitte Consulting, there was a partner whom I had worked alongside for about a year who staffed me on what was the most challenging project of my professional career. There was an opportunity to work on an internal firm M&A deal and he thought I was a good fit for the role. I was the most junior person on the team in a role where I had zero experience. And it was the type of project that was entirely new to the firm. I was significantly challenged, but was able to adapt quickly and be a part of one of Deloitte’s most successful acquisitions. I was empowered by the fact that someone believed in me enough to push me and put me in this challenging role and that is something I have carried with my since then.

Who is your favorite professor? Paul Habibi, who teaches real estate at Anderson. He is a fantastic lecturer and in 10 short weeks I learned so much about an industry that I had very little knowledge of.

Favorite MBA Courses? Business Strategy, Urban Real Estate Financing and Investing, Persuasion and Influence, Innovation in Media, and Entertainment through Technology.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Anderson for two main reasons: the collaborative culture and the plethora of opportunities. The collaborative culture at Anderson is truly unique and unlike anything I’ve experienced elsewhere. My classmates, the alumni network, and the administration are always available and willing to help with everything from classes to recruiting. I’m constantly struck by the caliber of people I’m surrounded by and have the ability to learn from. Anderson does a great job of selecting students who are a great culture fit, which has played a big role in how much I’ve enjoyed the past two years.

From a professional perspective, Anderson had all of the opportunities I was looking for. The strong West Coast network with regard to the companies I was interested in was very important to me. Going to school in a city like Los Angeles gives you access to leaders and executives who are based right here in the city and can easily drop by to speak on campus or meet for coffee. Those unique opportunities and that level of access are what really drew me to UCLA Anderson. The palm trees don’t hurt either.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Hands down, the travel opportunities with my classmates have been some of my most memorable experiences to date. I’ve traveled through Mexico with classmates who are local to the area. I rang in the 2016 New Year in Brazil with my Brazilian classmates on a trip where I was able to meet their parents and see their childhood homes. From these experiences, I am enthusiastic about taking my classmates to Egypt in the future. You learn so much about one another from traveling and sharing new experiences together. I’ve formed some of my closest friendships through these experiences.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? It would be an appreciation for the importance of diversity of thought of individuals of various backgrounds. Leading up to business school, we’ve all had very different experiences, lived in different cities, utilized different skills, and this all comes together in the classroom. Everyone’s varying experiences and backgrounds have shaped their thoughts and how they approach issues and problems found in and outside of the classroom. I’ve learned so much from the different perspectives of my classmates and it’s helped me become even more open to new ways of thinking.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? You come into the whole MBA process thinking you have a good idea of the things and areas you like and don’t like. And then next thing you know you are sitting in a class like Operations. Before you know it, you’re interested in the subject and pursuing a career in operations. This element of surprise and self-awakening makes business school a pivotal transition in one’s professional maturation.

What was the hardest part of business school? Being true to your passion and not letting your peers’ goals dissuade you from your own path and interests.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I felt that I had plateaued in my current role but had developed strong skills that I was ready to apply to a new industry and role. I found myself drawn to the technology and retail space and felt that an MBA would help me with the transition.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working to apply my consulting skills on an international level in an economic development role in the Middle East.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Angela Ahrendts, the head of retail at Apple. She’s a true visionary and I had the opportunity to experience first-hand the impact she has had at Apple. While it’s no surprise she has had a stellar career in retail, I am most inspired by her leadership style and approach. She is incredibly warm and humble and her leadership vision is much more people-focused than process-focused. In any talk she gives or interview she does, she exudes humility and grace, which I hope to emulate myself in my career.

What are your long-term professional goals? I have two goals that I hope to work toward professionally. First, I want to further advance the retail technology space to better suit the needs of customers in the future. The industry is evolving and I am excited about where it’s headed. In addition, I want to work on technologies that will enhance and improve the lives of individuals in the Middle East as that is a part of the world that is near and dear to my heart.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My family. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt shortly after I was born. I am inspired by their perseverance and commitment to providing us with a better life. Ever since I can remember, education was the priority. They’ve always made me feel that I can do anything at all and I would not be where I am without their love and support.

I am also the oldest of four girls and by default a role model to my sisters — a role I don’t take lightly. I do everything with them in mind and they are my biggest (and best!) cheerleaders.

Fun fact about yourself: I was in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt the night of the second revolution. I have never been surrounded by so many people in my entire life and it was a historical moment that I was able to witness first-hand.

Favorite book: The Alchemist (Paulo Coehlo)

Favorite movie: The Lion King

Favorite musical performer: Kendrick Lamar

Favorite television show: “Entourage”

Favorite vacation spot: Brazil

Hobbies? Going to concerts/music festivals, arts and crafts, fitness, surfing

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

“I first met Jovanna the June prior to her starting school. She was one of the students who participated in the Consortium Orientation Program, a program designed to give minority students access to an MBA and then an intense ‘boot camp’ prior to coming to school, where they would receive coaching and early exposure to companies for recruiting. Jovanna set herself apart in this group as someone who wanted to make sure that she was fully prepared when she got in front of the companies so that she could represent herself and Anderson really well. When she got to school, she decided to pursue a technology career, and she was able to get a number of offers, and she ultimately chose Apple, a coveted company and role. From there, Jovanna knew that she wanted to use her experiences to help other students. She became a second-year coach for first-year students pursuing technology. Because we knew how dedicated she’d be, we chose her as the lead of all the technology coaches (the technology team covers more than a third of the student population, so this is a big responsibility). She and her partner had the highest scores of the technology coaches, and we have received feedback on how helpful she has been.”

Regina Regazzi

Assistant Dean and Director

Parker Career Management Center

UCLA Anderson




Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.