“Six years in China, Kenya, Nepal as a humanitarian data geek, passionate about triple-bottom lines.”
Hometown: Portland, Oregon, USA
Fun Fact About Yourself: My bamboo bicycle has carried me on amazing road trips in China, South Korea, Nepal and the US.
Undergraduate School and Major: Colby College, majoring in International Relations, minoring in Art and Mandarin Chinese
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Mercy Corps, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Advisor for the SE Asia Region
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: We hear about the “big data revolution.” In my work, I focus on the “small data revolution,” or helping average people interact with data and engage in meaningful, impactful reflection. I persuaded Mercy Corps executives to fund my first-of-its-kind role to focus on shifting team culture to intrinsically value data and improve programmatic approaches and impact. Today, a 500-person staff is more equipped to strategically grow its programs with data.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Diverse and exciting, both in their backgrounds and their motivations to pursue an MBA. I can’t wait to immerse myself in the textured experiences of the Owen students I’ve met so far.
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? Coming from the non-profit sector, I believe that for society to thrive, we need business, government, and civil sectors to collaborate in more meaningful ways. For example, there are huge gains to be made in how international supply chains consider environmental and social impacts of their sourcing methods. I believe that business (with directions from communities and incentives by governments) is in the best position to make massive positive impacts in this space. Between the Turner Family Center, the dynamic mod structure, and the small class size, Owen felt like the best fit to allow me to pursue these ideas in depth.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? There are so many great clubs to pick from! I’ll definitely be making time for Project Pyramid, the Adam Smith Society, Women in Business, NetHope, and the Greater China Business Club!
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I reached a point in my career at Mercy Corps where I was noticing some critical gaps in my skills. Even though I had new job offers on the table, I knew I would not be prepared for the leadership positions that I am most interested in pursuing in five to 10 years’ time without the rigorous financial and analytical training that an MBA provides. I am also interested in expanding my professional experience into the corporate world, drawing on my international experience and learning from my classmates about the challenges of running, scaling, and innovating in a multi-national business environment.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I am proud of the international network of friends and colleagues that I have built during my time abroad. I knew that an MBA program network –especially one as close-knit and responsive as Owen’s alumni network – would be essential in making the career pivot I’m chasing after. Since 2015, I have applied to international relations and geo-political master’s programs in the US and the UK and kept turning down offers because the programs didn’t “fit” just right. I realized that the gaps in these degrees I was looking for were all business related, so I adjusted my focus to pursue an MBA!
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley and Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
How did you determine your fit at various schools? The three criteria I sought in an MBA program were a collaborative working environment, an international focus, and socially conscious courses. Each school where I applied demonstrated these traits. What was most distinctive about Owen was the emphasis on collaboration I found on graduate school ranking sites. I know the competition out there is fierce and that the only way to beat it is to learn how to collaborate with your teams – and classmates. I’m so thankful that Owen has built this type of culture!
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I studied Spanish for 13 years, beginning at age five. In college, I wanted a new challenge, so I switched my language focus to Mandarin. I think I was always aware about the power that translating ideas across language divides holds, but it didn’t fully come to light until my first exchange visit to Xi’an, Shaanxi, China in 2010. After just three semesters of Mandarin, I could string together a handful of simple sentences, and yet I was floored by the excitement and response I got to my Mandarin skills from the Chinese shopkeepers and restaurant owners I met every day. They wanted to teach me everything about China, endless idioms and proverbs, and they never let me leave before they were sure I had fully grasped the idea. As I translated my American perspective to them, they shared with me a distinctly different Chinese version. After growing up in a world that seemed to always have one “right” way, these conversations showed me that there are, in fact, many varied and diverse “right ways” of accomplishing the same thing. And mastering language and translation is essential to discovering the various paths.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? I would like to work in the international supply-chain space to reduce negative impacts and grow profits through transparent and accountable business practices. I want to work for a multi-national company that is committed to harnessing its billions of dollars for real impact for both consumers and producers.
Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I would like to manage a team charged with measuring the impacts of international supply chains using Social Return on Investment (SROI) approaches. I want to capture more than just the monetary value of the flow of goods and services in our global economy – and maybe live with my dog in the Horn of Africa or Western China, or back in my hometown of Portland, Oregon.