Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2019

Ashley Allen 

Columbia Business School 

Describe yourself in 15 words: I’m a 26-year-old audacious and personable, indoor-spin addicted, finance junkie and super mom

Fun Fact About Yourself: I earned my Bachelor’s degree at the age of 19. By skipping 2 grades in elementary school and condensing 4 years of undergraduate studies into 3, I was able to graduate early.

Undergraduate School & Major: University of Maryland, Baltimore County – Economics

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: 

Relationship Manager, Fidelity Investments (6 years)
Investment Consultant, Scottrade (1 year)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Earning my CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation has been my biggest accomplishment thus far. In my previous career, I worked one-on-one with individuals and families to help them address their investing and wealth management needs.  As I developed their financial plans, having the CFP designation behind my name helped me quickly demonstrate a level of proficiency while earning my client’s trust. Next, I plan to tackle the CFA exams!

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? To quote the late Steve Jobs “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown out your own inner voice.” The business school application process is extremely taxing and it’s very easy to get wooed or discouraged by a school’s ranking or reputation. The opinions of others – whether it be family, friends or peers – can also be hidden influences. However, all applicants should really take the time to visit and explore each school to determine the best fit for them. The school community you choose should not only enhance your overall experience, but also challenge you and help you grow. Be sure you choose a school based on your own goals and personality – not the ideas or wants of others.

What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I had more than just myself to consider when choosing a business school. I’m a single parent to a fantastic 9-year-old and her education, well-being and overall happiness were central in my decision-making process. I needed to attend a school in a city that offered strong after-school programs, great doctors, and cultural enrichment activities for my daughter. I ultimately settled on New York City.

Choosing CBS was an easy decision after I narrowed down the location. I wanted to learn from the brightest minds in the investment industry and I knew that professors at Columbia would fit the bill. The quality of the Value Investing and Finance courses coupled with a large alumni network were strong selling points.

However, my decisive moment occurred when I met someone like me – another single mother who was a full-time MBA student at CBS. She shared her experience with me and emphasized how supportive the CBS community had been throughout her journey. The school’s support of parents was a huge comfort and in combination with its academic strength, I knew I was making the right choice.

Success: After my first year of business school I hope to have a solid foundation of finance related electives under my belt, a spring internship completed and have been an active member of CSIMA (Columbia Student Investment Management Association). I also plan on competing in at least one stock pitching competition. My ultimate end of year goal is to be accepted into the Value Investing Program for my second year of school. On a more personal note, I’d like to visit all (or most) of New York City’s major landmarks and travel with my classmates on a school sponsored trip.