University of Washington, Foster School of Business
Hometown: Mercer Island, Washington
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was featured on the inside cover story for Runner’s World magazine in 2015… dressed as a taco! I wish I could say it was for running a marathon but the truth is I was just a sideline participant in San Francisco’s famous Bay to Breakers.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Southern California, B.A. Communications
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Creative Market, Marketing Manager
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I undertook Creative Market’s largest market research project, leading a deep dive into its four million members.
Energized by the opportunity to connect and listen to our customers, I led a small team that analyzed 30,000 surveys, combed through hours of customer focus group recordings and website traffic pattern data, and built marketing personas. We discovered two key customer personas, representing our highest value customers, traced their online journeys, pain points, and perceptions of our brand’s value, and identified the elements needed to build a stronger relationship with them.
Listening to our customers speak directly about the brand (albeit from behind a camera) was thrilling and there is truly no substitute for it. I firmly believe that the consumer should be central to every brand and it was well worth taking the time to listen and dig deeper into their experiences.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Foster students seem experienced yet curious. They are confident enough in their past endeavors to speak passionately about their careers, yet innately curious and eager for future opportunities.
Aside from your classmates, 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? Foster’s close knit community was the key driver in my decision making. With typically around 115 students in a class, everyone knows each other, helps each other, and learns from each other on a more meaningful level. I didn’t want to be another face in the crowd at a larger school and knew that joining a small class would mean more opportunities to step up and grow during my two years. I want to be a leader and push myself to take on new activities and skills; a small community will both hold me accountable and encourage me to accomplish those goals.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Coming from the sometimes male-dominated startup world, I’m looking forward to joining Foster’s Women in Business Club. Aside from helping me to get to know my classmates better and build a strong female network, the club also supports undergraduate business students. I look forward to sharing my past experience as a founder to encourage undergraduates and help them avoid some of the pitfalls they’re likely to encounter.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve been lucky thus far in my career to have started my own company right out college and to have subsequently joined small and scrappy startups in Sydney and the Bay Area. While on the one hand this has meant experiencing the thrilling ups-and-downs that startups inevitably encounter, it also has meant that I’ve had to adapt to many of the challenges thrown at me, often learning as I go, through trial and error.
Yet with all of the hands-on learning I’ve experienced, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to have joined a larger company early on, where I would have had the opportunity to work closely with and learn from seasoned marketing professionals. Foster’s mentorship program was a big draw for me and I look forward to engaging with a mentor in the Seattle area whom I can learn from and who can help bridge that gap.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? This question is a bit “cart-before-the- horse” since I’m not yet sure if an MBA will be “worth it”. I will say that over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know several MBA grads and it’s been clear to me how beneficial their experience has been to both their professional and personal development.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? I knew I wanted to stay on the West Coast so I applied to a few schools in California, UW, and UT, Austin – since hey, who doesn’t love BBQ and live music?
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I relied heavily on school visits and getting to know both current students and alumni. I spent time scouring LinkedIn to learn about career pivots and how diverse the networks were. On a personal note, it was important to me to attend a school where students weren’t super competitive with each other. I knew I wanted to build a network of life-long friends and I wanted a collaborative school atmosphere. Asking alumni about how often they utilized their network or kept in touch with their classmates was a good indicator of the health of the community.
From a career standpoint, I wanted to attend a school where I’d interact with a diverse group of people working towards a variety of goals. Coming from the Bay Area, where everyone seems to work in tech, I’m looking forward to joining a community and ecosystem where social impact, engineering, retail, and yes, technology, share the foreground.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I started a healthcare startup straight out of college. After putting in three years of hard work, often spending weekends alone at my kitchen table, I faced the grim reality that I needed to shutter the business. Accepting that decision was only half of the battle; how would I share the news with my family and friends? What would I do next?
Accepting this “failure” and not letting it affect my confidence was difficult, yet clearly stands out as the defining moment of my early career. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I purchased a one-way ticket to Sydney, Australia and continued to push myself out of my comfort zone. I found a company I was passionate about, founders who supported my career development, and an entire new world “down under.” It’s incredible what a positive attitude and new surroundings can do!
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I hope to find a role where brand building intersects with strategic business decision making. I love working with (and for) consumers and feel passionate about landing somewhere that places high value on consumers and their experience.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself actively engaged in my growing community, working for or building a global brand and of course – waking up every day excited for new opportunities to create value while delivering a great customer experience that translates into a compelling ROI.
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