2017 Best MBAs: Autumn Marie Wagner, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Autumn Marie Wagner

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Management

 “I am optimistic, fun, kindly persistent, socially inclusive, witty, unique, well-rounded, ambitious and a lover of adventure.”

 Age: 35

 Hometown: Fairview, TX

 Fun fact about yourself: I have traveled to all seven continents and over 70 countries.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Dance Theatre from Brigham Young University

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I ran my own vocal studio called AMW Vocal Studios. I developed my business strategy and product portfolio from a market and competitor analysis of 11 different companies and grew revenue 490% over 2.5 years.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? I interned in a strategy and operations role in the marketing organization at Adobe headquarters in San Jose, CA. During my internship I devised and executed a competitive analysis of 16 tech companies to benchmark elements of Adobe’s marketing success. From there I derived strategic recommendations to strengthen Adobe’s market position.

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently deciding between marketing & strategy opportunities in the tech industry.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

 Leadership Roles, School awards and honors

  • Hawes Scholar recipient
    • One of 10 students from the class of 2017 to receive the MBA program’s highest distinction for academic, personal, and leadership excellence
  • Tuition scholarship recipient and recipient of Marriot School of Management and William S. and Jason B.B. scholarships
  • BYU MBA social media manager
    • Create and implement strategy for BYU MBA social media channels, curate content and grow brand awareness
    • Facebook: 478% increased reach and 38.8% increased post engagement since April 2016
    • Twitter: 26.6% increased impressions and 6% increased followers since April 2016
    • Created new “Internship Interview” channel on BYU MBA YouTube for a resource
  • VP of Communications, MBA Marketing Association
    • One of 12 students selected for the leadership team by faculty and colleagues.
    • Served about 90 hours in VP of Comms role and organization/execution of other MBAMA-related activities
    • Assisted 2015-2016 MBAMA leadership with execution of MBAMA activities Winter 2016
  • Cougar Strategy Group, Senior Partner
    • One of 5 students selected to devise strategy for student-driven, strategy consulting firm.
    • Worked with Marriott School faculty to analyze market demand, validation, primary & secondary research & the creation of Cougar Strategy Group in concept during Winter 2017 for the CSG prerequisite course.
    • Assisted in building the firm via:
      • Cougar Strategy Branding (logo, culture, swag, communications, decks)
      • CSG Student application and admittance process & execution for class of 2018 (facilitated conception of process, surveys, case interviews, aggregated weights for student’s applications pieces, etc)
      • Opted in to Deseret Digital Media Group (DDM) consulting engagement
    • Baylor Ethics Case Competition Competitor in Waco, TX
      • Placed second in Baylor Ethics Case Competition

Community Work/Service

  • Refugee-related efforts
    • Headed an effort to sew 52 scarves to donate to refugees during Winter 2016-2017
    • Currently assisting in the creation of apartment kits for refugee families moving into their own homes
  • Sole Hope
    • Assisted in efforts to gather resources & volunteer hours for Sole Hope in Uganda, an effort to provide shoes for Ugandans who were struggling with foot-related diseases
  • “Days for Girls”
    • Assisted in organizing workforce and executing creation of washable feminine protection for young women in Uganda & Kenya and enable them to stay in school.
  • Service for “The One”
    • Tied & donated blankets for newborn babies in Las Vegas
    • Performed three pro-bono vocal performances
    • Met with a Brazilian emigrant 1-2 hours a week for several months to provide free English tutoring to her

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most humbled to be selected as a Hawes Scholar recipient. I have worked incredibly hard to perform well in the MBA program, but I’ve also worked incredibly hard at building relationships and trying to make a positive difference in others’ lives throughout my MBA journey. By virtue of being nominated and selected as a Hawes Scholar recipient by my colleagues and the MBA faculty and staff, I hope this is an indicator that perhaps I’ve achieved my goal in some small measure of making a positive impact on the lives of those around me.  

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I once read an article that cited the statistic that at any given time, only 6% of all people pursuing the entertainment business (singers, dancers and actors) are employed full-time in that field. After undergrad, I worked as a professional singer and dancer in the entertainment business for almost five years. By the previously mentioned standard, I was in the top 6% of all entertainment professionals for the majority of my time in the entertainment business.

I was one of 10 performers selected out of thousands in the U.S., U.K., Australia, & Canada to win five highly competitive contracts with Holland America Cruise Line. I performed as the lead singer and dancer in 16 different productions on luxury cruises and traveled to all 7 continents and 62 countries. During that time, I was one of eight U.S. citizens in a crew of 600 people. Accomplishing these successes in the entertainment business was extraordinarily challenging and deeply satisfying – both personally and professionally.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? One of my favorite professors in the MBA program is Dan Snow. He is brilliant both intellectually and in his ability to teach effectively. He has honed his ability to command the room in a humble fashion, guide a conversation to yield fantastic, authentic business insights while concurrently drive his students to evaluate their personal life and dig deep to tap into their maximum potential.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose BYU for my MBA because the network is incredibly powerful, international and deeply invested in each other’s successes. The BYU brand is unique. I wanted to be branded by BYU. The ROI, caliber of education and wealth of incredible opportunities in the MBA program are unbeatable.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed the opportunity to rub shoulders with genuinely amazing people every day and build meaningful relationships that I hope will be life-long.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? I was very surprised that the BYU MBA program has so successfully channeled the fiercely competitive nature of the program into a competitive advantage for its students by concurrently developing an equally strong culture that is inclusive, authentic and genuinely kind. This combination is a powerful tool that BYU uses to mold great talent into exceptional talent and draw out the best within each of us.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The BYU MBA program desires elite talent and intellect in their program but they are unwilling to pursue that talent/intellect at the expense of character and well-roundedness. They want all of it in one package and you can be that package if you work super hard and are purposeful about your development.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret that I did not have more time to spend with people – getting to know them better and learning more about their lives.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire far too many to answer this question.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was living in New York, working as a singer and dancer, and found I was consistently interested and curious about the business world around me.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…performing on Broadway and studying for the LSAT.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would adhere to a curriculum that enabled students to have more time devoted strictly to building and strengthening relationships.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Become an executive at a tech company, then start my own business.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My Heavenly Father, my husband and my parents. My Heavenly Father for creating me with the capacity to develop, to overcome and for opening doors of amazing opportunities to me. My husband for his absolute loyalty, his never-ending love, and for “giving me wings to fly.” My parents for instilling within me a belief that I can accomplish hard things, a work ethic to do it, and an amazing example and legacy to strive for.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as someone who was authentically invested in their happiness and well-being, genuinely celebratory of their successes, unshaken in my faith and conviction and really striving to be a better person each day.

Favorite book: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Favorite movie or television show: Movies based on true stories that illustrate redemption and overcoming.

Favorite musical performer: Don’t have one.

Favorite vacation spot: Amsterdam, New Zealand, Cape Town in South Africa and a slew of other places.

Hobbies? travel, triathlons, marathons, horseback riding, water/snow skiing, certified open-water scuba diver, studying Portuguese and ASL

What made Autumn such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“I was an English major myself with an MBA—Autumn has a great poet’s mind with a great business head. The perspective she brings to the MBA program is powerful, unique, and refreshing. Serving as her professor was a pleasure.”

Bruce Money

Fred Meyer Professor of Marketing and International Business

Executive Director of the Whitmore Global Management Center


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