Meet Indiana Kelley’s MBA Class Of 2020

Ashley C. Emerole

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

A curious and chatty New Yorker who loves finance and learning what makes you tick.”

Hometown: New York, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I met my fiancé in a rideshare after a snowstorm. The odds that out of millions of New Yorkers we would cross paths that night is remarkable, it is the single greatest proof that talking to strangers can actually be life-changing.

Undergraduate School and Major: CUNY Hunter College, Master in Urban Planning; University of Arizona, Bachelor in Geography

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: New York City Department of Investigation (DOI), Director of Finance

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My team being awarded the department’s Unit of the Year award last year. Our function is considered administrative so it was truly awesome to be recognized by our colleagues in operations!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Genuinely supportive with a strong GIF game. Whenever someone has a question, everyone is quick to assist and we congratulate each other for the wins, big and small. All that said, we laugh a lot, which is great because keeping things light is important given the stress of school and recruiting.

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? I wanted to attend a program which would challenge me, but also allow me to thrive. I understand that Kelley’s core coursework is really intense, but it provides an excellent foundation which, coupled with their signature Me Inc., program, will allow me to thoroughly evaluate my career and goals so I think I’ll be in great shape. The small class size also appealed to me as a career switcher as did the impressive industry specific academies at Kelley, which allow students to really dive deep into their areas of interest.

Throughout the application process I really enjoyed my conversations with current Kelley students and alums. Everyone kept connecting me with someone new and followed up by putting me into all of these groupmes! Lastly, my fiancé is from Indiana, so I’m proud to continue the Hoosier tradition!

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Honestly it’s a three-way tie between the Investment Club, the Finance Club and the GloBASE trip in March.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career?  After seven years, I knew that I was ready to pivot from government into the private sector, but I also needed the opportunity to reset and reframe my perspective, gain new skills, and expand my network. Although I am quite set on finance, there are some business ideas I look forward to exploring during my MBA that I would never have had the time to pursue otherwise. It is also a great time to be going to business school as an LGBTQ woman of color, given all of the conversations about bringing your whole self to work and the visible and vocal support for diversity and inclusion in business.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? It was truly a tough calculation given my most recent role, but it is a calculated risk that I was prepared to take because I knew I would otherwise spend the rest of my life wondering, ‘What if I had done that MBA?’ At the end of the day, once I started talking to people and exploring programs, I knew a full-time MBA was right for me. When enough people describe an experience as ‘life changing’ and wish they could go back and do it all again, there is probably something to this whole MBA thing.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Spreadsheets are my tool of choice, so I created a massive document which tracked all of the programs I researched as well as all the students, staff and alumni I spoke to. I found phone calls to be the most effective way to gauge fit, so I talked to MBAs across programs and interest areas and started crafting my target programs based on how students rated the four most important factors for me: strong finance faculty and programming, a visible LGBTQ community, an active partners club, and structured international opportunities.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Perhaps it is cliché, but coming out. In some ways, I don’t think that I understood what personal freedom was until then. The peace of mind tied to being my true self is invaluable and it continues to carry its way into all other aspects of my life. It has given me a new sense of self when it comes to my relationships with other people personally and professionally, and it has added new layers to my understanding of the concepts of acceptance, sympathy and empathy.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I really enjoy finance and strategy and intend to pursue a post-MBA career in investment banking.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Professionally, I hope to be a vice president on the path to becoming a director at a financial institution. Personally, I hope to continue to volunteer time combating hunger in low income communities and happily married with two (or more) awesome and healthy kids!

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.