2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Ashley Brown, Duke University (Fuqua)

Ashley Brown

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Caring, humble, invested in relationships, open to new things, and fun-loving.”

Hometown: Oakland, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I had my first job in first grade! I did professional voiceovers for a science computer game.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Wharton School

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Macy’s, Merchandise Planner

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? PepsiCo

Where will you be working after graduation? PepsiCo, Marketing Associate Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Black and Latino MBA Organization (BLMBAO) Co-President: BLMBAO’s mission is to provide the Black, Latino, and Native American students at Fuqua the tools they need to be successful in business.

Center of Leadership and Ethics (COLE) Fellow: As a COLE Fellow, I mentored a team of first-year students by leading discussions that address team dynamics and leadership development.

Fuqua on Board Associate: Served as a non-voting board member for Movement of Youth in Durham— an organization focused on expanding life opportunities for diverse middle and high school students.

Marketing Club First-Year Cabinet— Career Development: Led Marketing Trek, a trip in which students are able to visit companies in New York City and engage with Fuqua alumni.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While I am proud of each of my leadership experiences at Fuqua, I am most proud of serving as the co-president of the Black and Latino MBA Organization. At Fuqua, BLMBAO has a history of being awarded the Best Student Organization by our peers. As a leader, I realize the importance of the organization based on its impact on its members as well as the role it plays within Fuqua as a whole. This year we piloted a new program with Duke Undergrad’s student club— Black in Business. This program allowed Fuqua students to serve as mentors to Duke’s Black sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are interested in pursuing a career in business. One of my goals as a leader of BLMBAO was to not only serve our members but to provide ways to engage with the community. Through the BLMBAO x BiB mentorship program, our students are able to provide career guidance as well as share their leadership journeys. Ultimately, my hope is that through this program we continue to improve the pipeline for underrepresented minorities in business.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of participating in Macy’s Business Innovation Mentorship Program. In this program, I met with a group of my peers to discuss innovation that was disrupting the retail industry. I also had the opportunity to present an innovative revenue-driving idea to my GVPs. I am proud of my work in this program because it challenged me to think outside of the box about adding value to the consumer— a skill that will be important throughout my career in marketing.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Advanced Corporate Strategy, taught by Professor Aaron (“Ronnie”) Chatterji, has been one of my favorite MBA courses. In this class, we discuss business strategies in the context of social and political issues. In many ways, learning from Ronnie and from hearing my classmates’ diverse points of view, I have been challenged to question my own opinions on certain social and political topics. This class has given me the tools to think about the impact of non-market factors on business and the broader role that companies play in shaping society.

Why did you choose this business school? The first time I visited Fuqua was during a Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) seminar, which was hosted by Duke. At the seminar, a Fuqua alumna spoke about the support her classmates showed her during a particularly challenging time in her life due to health issues. From her story and my interactions with the students as an applicant, I began to understand the meaning behind “Team Fuqua.” I wanted to be a part of a community that goes above-and-beyond for each other and one that invests in being responsible business leaders above all else.

Additionally, in business school, it was important for me to develop my leadership skills. Fuqua offers a variety of hands-on opportunities to do this including the COLE Fellowship Program, where we not only work with first-year teams but also receive specialized training and hear from influential leaders such as Coach K.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Fuqua is the best fit for applicants who embody our Paired Principles. Two of our principles that resonate with me the most are Authentic Engagement and Supportive Ambition. When applying to Fuqua, think about what you are passionate about and how you would engage with the student body. We value getting to know each other and what makes each person unique. We also pride ourselves on creating a community that supports each other. When applying to Fuqua, reflect on the ways that you would support your classmates and how you plan to have an impact on the school.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Fuqua is that because we are in the South it’s harder to move to the Northeast or the West Coast. It’s not true! Last year, the largest percentage of our class moved to the West Coast.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I would have known how much I growth I would experience throughout this process. I came into school open to many opportunities but started off hesitant to take advantage of them. I wish I would have known that while there will, of course, be times in which I would inevitably fail, Fuqua is a safe place to do so because of the support of my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a difficult question because I have so many impressive classmates! I would say I admire my C-Lead team the most. During orientation, we are divided into Consequential Leadership Teams, also known as our First Year teams. These teams are intentionally diverse from the standpoint of ethnicity, countries of origin, and having different professional experiences. While we could have easily functioned as a transactional team with the goal of fulfilling our academic requirements, I admire my team’s investment in each other. With the guidance of our Second Year Leadership Fellow, my C-Lead engaged in introspective and vulnerable conversations that allowed us to deepen our relationship.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Throughout my life, my mother has been my biggest inspiration. She has worked hard to help my younger sister and I accomplish our goals in education and to ensure that have the same opportunities as our peers. She is also one of my biggest motivators and constantly pushes me to think outside of the boundaries that I set for myself. With each milestone, she encourages me to continue pushing out the finish line. There is no question that I would not be where I am had she not supported me each step of the way.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Social Network—The biggest insight that I gained was the importance of leveraging your classmates’ talent to create something incredible.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a buyer at a retail company.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? When I started the business school exploration process, my goal was to transition careers. While I’ve accomplished that, it’s the rest of the MBA journey that has made this worth so much more. My experience at Fuqua has been invaluable because of the relationships that I’ve formed and the life-changing experiences I’ve had with my classmates.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

– Travel to South Africa

– I would love to run a long-distance, 200-mile, relay race with friends

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope my peers think of me as someone who was invested in getting to know them and someone who was genuinely invested in giving back to our Fuqua community.

Hobbies? Running, crafting, cooking, drinking wine with friends

What made Ashley such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“In her time here at Duke, Ashley has been involved in and led some of the most transformative experiences for her classmates, both inside and outside the walls of Fuqua, while also excelling in an incredibly demanding and rigorous curriculum.

At all levels, Ashley has been a fantastic teammate and mentor and has helped build bridges across Duke’s campus. Given her quiet confidence, strong self-awareness, and desire to support others, not only is Ashley strong as an individual, but she also makes those around her better.

Ashley’s learning team was the model for when navigating a diverse team dynamic works perfectly. Rather than focus on trying to maximize efficiency in completing assignments, her team took the time to get to know each other on a deeper level, show vulnerability, and build trust over time. While this strategy may not have allowed them to move fast it allowed them to move farther.

Ashley balances incredible leadership and mentorship as a COLE Fellow and Club President for the Black and Latino MBA Organization, while also having time to serve the community through her work with Fuqua on Board as a board member for Movement of Youth in Durham. This leadership capacity is very rare, even among other leaders. Moreover, Ashley helped launch a mentorship program at Fuqua that engaged not just the student leaders at Fuqua, but also Duke undergraduates in need of direction, motivation, and support.

Bottom line: Ashley can do it all.  She has taught and given as much to Duke as she has learned!”

Steve Misuraca

Assistant Dean for Daytime MBA program, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business




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