Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2020

Beverly Leon

Columbia Business School

“Athlete, activist, and advocate inspired to build community wherever in the world she may be.”

Hometown: Wrentham, Massachusetts (But proudly claim Boston, MA as its 20 minutes away)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have played for professional soccer teams in 3 different countries (Iceland – Kvk Stjarnan, Italy – A.C. ChievoVerona, and England – Sunderland AFC).

Undergraduate School and Major:  

Columbia University, History and Business Management ‘14

University of Oxford, MSc. Social Policy ‘18

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Currently a student at University of Oxford. However, last employer was Sunderland Ladies AFC – Professional Soccer Player through 2017.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Negotiating my professional contract in the English Premier League (FA Women’s Super League) with Sunderland Ladies. A recent FIFpro survey revealed that 50 percent of professional women’s soccer players are not paid to play and that nearly 87 percent of women leave the game early due to lack of financial and job security. Given this, I am extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to even sit at the negotiating table.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Engaging. There is instant engagement between everyone I have spoken to and a refreshing curiosity about how all our different passions have led us to CBS at the same time.

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? The vibrancy of New York City is unparalleled. There is something about studying in NYC that drew me back to Morningside Heights – to be able to develop my personal and professional self in a community as dynamic as NYC is something few other schools can come close to offering.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? CBS Matters. In every conversation with current and former students, the community forum, CBS Matters, has always come up. To have a community space outside the classroom that helps forge connections between my peers that we might otherwise have missed is something that is unique to Columbia.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I realized that applying my particular passions to a number of goals would require me to sharpen a number of business skills in order to contribute my best self to my current and future work.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Fully grasping how the experience would transform most parts of my personal and professional development changed how I viewed the investment. Instead of a two-year investment, I thought about how I would be connected to this community for years to come.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? NYU Stern

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I researched many different MBA programs over the course of applying to business school. Some of the things that I prioritized were conversations I had with students and professors at various schools about their own experience at the university. Additionally, the discussions with admissions officers who went on to connect me to students who shared similar passions and goals as I had were invaluable. Beyond this, I also considered location, size of class, course offerings, and teaching style of the program.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Three years ago, I took a risk that stretched me far beyond my comfort zone: I quit my analyst role at Morgan Stanley to play professional soccer. I gave up a world of certainty in pursuit of the answers to my most personal questions and have been able to connect with people from around the world who share my same passion. I have witnessed how a playing field can transform our relationships with strangers: breaking down language barriers, building effective teams, and inspiring joy.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? You’ll find me working to transform the way we teach civic engagement by making it easier for students, teachers, and citizens to participate in civic life.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Continuing to build the infrastructure to connect people to their local communities, I could be working on this from several different paths (consulting, non-profit, government roles, venture).

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