2017 Best MBAs: Tahira Taylor, Georgetown (McDonough)

Tahira Taylor

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

“Traveling around the world and volunteering, this unpredictably stylish MBA is realizing her dreams!”

Age: 30

Hometown: Detroit, Michigan

Fun fact about yourself: I have vacationed in over 50 countries and on all seven continents. I quit my job well before business school started in order to spend time in Antarctica, which was my seventh continent.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), B.A. in Behavioral Sciences

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Senior Account Executive at Havas Discovery; Account Executive at Ogilvy & Mather, Volunteer at US Peace Corps

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Commercial Strategy at Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, GA

Where will you be working after graduation? WPP MBA Fellowship, Global Rotation beginning in New York, NY

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: VP of Community Service, Student Government Association; Community Service Cohort Chair, M17 Blue Cohort; VP of Community Service and Admissions, Black MBA Association; Consortium Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my first semester as VP of Community, I planned McDonough’s first annual domestic community service trek. I acted as group leader along with 15 other Georgetown MBAs traveling to New Orleans, LA, to complete a build with Habitat for Humanity. In the initial stages of planning, it became clear that the school would likely not be able to fund any part of the trek. But through leverage and persistence, I was able to secure some sponsorship from our Program Office, saving my classmates some money. I also planned our first annual international service trek during my second semester in the same role. A team of Georgetown MBAs traveled to Mexico to volunteer at an orphanage and women’s shelter over fall break. Again, I was able to secure sponsorship from the University.

I put in a lot of effort to plan these treks, and even planned the Mexico trek from Paris while I was completing a study abroad semester at HEC. I am so happy that I was able to plan McDonough’s first two service treks, and very proud and excited to hand off the reigns of what will become annual aspects of our program. I believe I was able to kick off the trend for the program’s commitment to service treks and to sponsoring them — the Student Government budget will now always be planned with the volunteer trips in mind.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I worked at a startup radio station in Ghana immediately after undergrad. I co-hosted a talk radio show with a Ghanaian DJ named Lexis Bill. We discussed issues ranging from politics to pop culture and fashion to food. With political conversations, I was often the dissenting voice. On a number of occasions, I had to sit through getting berated on live radio by a caller whom I’d offended with my not-so-popular opinions. While I don’t know if this fully fits the criteria of an achievement, being a co-host on this show was my first “out of my comfort zone,” experience, and I was only 22.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted a small class size in a metropolis that offered the option of spending a semester studying abroad. I also wanted a program that gave students consulting project opportunities on the African continent as part of the core curriculum. Volunteerism has always been important to me. When I was choosing programs, I could tell that it was also important to Georgetown. And when I saw how much the administration really empowered the Student Government Association, I was hooked.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Despite my work experiences in global settings with a lot of diverse individuals — and even having done stints in the Peace Corps in Morocco and in Lesotho — I have always managed to surround myself with like-minded individuals. The people who chose my companies, and people who choose to join the Peace Corps, are people who for the most part, think like me (especially politically). Before enrolling, I figured my close friends would also be people who think like me, but it has been surprisingly difficult to find that.

But the challenge is refreshing. My childhood has few things in common with the childhood of one of my best friends at McDonough; another close friend so vehemently disagrees with my political opinions that we have agreed to never discuss them. And in every study group, I find myself being forced outside of my comfort zone in such a way that I feel required to voice my mind, lest the “people like me” go unheard.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Show genuine interest in the world you don’t know. The program begins with a deep dive into the global economy, and given the direction of the world, that class is only going to become more relevant and interesting. Every course has substantial elements of Georgetown’s global personality, whether it be through case studies based on businesses in Spain, or research projects about the business policies of South Africa. In order to truly thrive at McDonough, and in business school in general, one has to be very interested in business on a global scale.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My classmate Tejal Desai is such an inspiration. Like myself, she struggled with some of the core classes, and an internship opportunity never fell into her lap as easily as it did for others. Additionally, McDonough was a very overwhelming new social environment. Despite this, she remained positive and kept her eyes on the prize. She never failed to encourage me or our classmates with kind words, a friendly gesture, or a warm smile. She took on leadership roles and was not shy when it came to telling the administration what changes or improvements should be made. She exhibited so much spirit, determination, and energy through the roughest part of the MBA experience, and her display of resilience was the motivation I needed on the days I wanted to give up on myself.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that I wanted to do more than advertising account management. I wanted to manage the strategy, dabble more in the planning, and perhaps become the client. And I wanted to get on a fast track to roles that would stretch me, rather than putting in several years before making a transition. I also wanted to make a lot more money.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…traveling with a friend who set out to sail around the world on the exact same day that I began my first core classes.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would not allow classes to begin before 9:00am, and unlimited coffee and tea would be on tap.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To be completely honest, I am still trying to figure that out. There was a time when I thought I knew, but with about 30+ years left in my career lifetime, I have no real idea how I want to spend those years. The MBA experience introduced me to a lot of different professional paths that I had not considered, or even known existed. In the nearer-term, I would like to stay with the company that has hired me, eventually taking a C-level executive role with one of their operating companies based in an Eastern European or West African country.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? At school, I want to thank my program advisor, Lisa Kahn, and my career advisor, Angela Williams. I struggled with some of the core courses. There were opportunities that I wanted to pursue, but had doubts of whether or not I would be able to do so given what I thought would be a disastrous academic standing. Lisa did everything in her power to see to it that I was successful and that I could pursue these opportunities. At the same time, Angela was the voice that I needed to reassure me that everyone has a success story in the end. Things of course turned out fine, and even better than I had expected. But knowing that these two advisors were always willing to go above and beyond to ensure my success was very encouraging.

Outside of school, I can thank my entire immediate and extended family — they helped me to pay for everything during my MBA, even when I failed to make time to show them my gratitude. They were understanding of my lack of energy, and never stopped encouraging me.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “I remember Tahira for her adventures around the world, her commitment to community service, and her amazing collection of designer shoes.”

Favorite book: The Shining by Stephen King

Favorite movie or television show: Television show: The Twilight Zone. Movie: Psycho & The Shining.

Favorite musical performer: Mariah Carey

Favorite vacation spot: Mauritius

Hobbies? Traveling, volunteering, shopping, writing

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

“Tahira Taylor has distinguished herself in many ways while at Georgetown McDonough, most notably by increased the focus of both diversity and community amongst the student body. Tahira came to Georgetown with these values as a former Peace Corps volunteer and member of Georgetown MBA’s second class of Consortium for Graduate Study in Management students, an organization committed to increasing the number of minorities in business schools and corporate America.

Tahira engaged heavily in co-curricular activities, assuming leadership positions through which she was able to share her values and increase the engagement surrounding the topics of diversity and community. Serving as both the Executive Vice President of Admissions and Community on the Black MBA Association and the Vice President of Community on the Student Government Association, Tahira was instrumental in developing opportunities for service, a component central to Georgetown’s mission.

Through her roles, she developed a Community Service and Volunteer Trek initiative, the first of its kind to be implemented. She not only coordinated a multi-day service trip for MBA students in New Orleans in the spring of 2016 with Habitat for Humanity, but also a day-trek to Baltimore to support Rebuilding Together. Both of these treks were maxed out on participants and also created an increased number of students pursuing and completing the Community Fellows program, which recognizes students who make service a personal priority in completing 100 hours of service during their time as an MBA student. During this time, she also developed a term called “Voluntwerking” combining Volunteering and Networking. Tahira would connect Georgetown MBA students with volunteer activities conducted by businesses interacting with Georgetown MBA’s Career Center, such as Deloitte and PWC, in order to provide both a service and networking opportunity for current students.

Not stopping there, Tahira went on to foster a culture which embraces community service and broadened her scope globally. While studying abroad at the HEC MBA program in Paris, France, in the Fall of 2016, she continued to serve and complete her positions’ initiatives from abroad. She both coordinated the Month of Volunteerism in November with the MBA Volunteers Club, resulting in over 400 hours of service by over 130 students, AND coordinated a global community trek in the fall of 2016 working with orphans at Casa de los Angeles in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Tahira spent her 2016 summer interning at Delta Air Lines in global sales operations, again making Georgetown MBA’s global focus a part of her own. She plans to continue pushing Voluntwerking as an alum, further showcasing her true commitment to making a positive social change in the world. She embodies the values of service and giving back and is an inspiration to her classmates.”

Chelsea Theis

Director of MBA Operations and Student Services


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