2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Ashley Fox, University of Texas (McCombs)

Ashley Fox

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“A big picture thinker with a rare eye for nuance and a commitment to innovation.”

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Fun fact about yourself: I am an avid sneaker collector with ~100 pairs of sneakers.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Journalism & Mass Communication

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Dell Technologies – Inside Sales Account Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Starbucks – Seattle, WA

Where will you be working after graduation? Assistant Marketing Manager – PepsiCo

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-Founder – Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference at McCombs
  • President – Graduate Marketing Network
  • VP of Sports – Sports, Entertainment & Media Association (SEMA)
  • VP of Events – The Consortium, University of Texas at Austin Chapter
  • McCombs Ambassador Committee
  • Teaching Assistant for Undergraduate Marketing and MBA at DFW Management courses
  • The Leslie Elise Adkins Endowed Scholarship Fund Recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of co-founding the Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference at McCombs. In our first year at McCombs, my co-founder, DeAndrea Staes and I identified diversity and inclusion as an opportunity for the Texas McCombs MBA program. We created this event to evoke change in the McCombs community and create a sustainable, long-term solution that would provide a forum for the University of Texas and greater Austin community to engage and learn about diversity, inclusion, and culture. The feeling of seeing this idea come into fruition and the positive reception from attendees was indescribable. In addition to the conference, we created an Elevate Diversity Scholarship to provide support to underrepresented minority students accepted to the McCombs School of Business. I am confident that the Elevate Conference will be a marquee event and change agent for the McCombs and Austin community for years to come.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest professional moment occurred last summer during my internship at Starbucks. I successfully recommended and prototyped a new product to assist the company in innovating their current breakfast portfolio. By putting the customer first and conducting focus groups and surveys to gather consumer insights, my product recommendation resulted in a multimillion-dollar revenue opportunity. I worked cross-functionally with R&D, pricing, finance, ops, and sourcing to identify feasibility and create a go-to-market strategy. I was extremely proud of what I was able to accomplish in just three months. Last summer was the realization that my dreams were finally coming to fruition. I felt empowered to push boundaries and exercise my passion for creativity and innovation.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? John Doggett. His teaching style is one that will set you up for success in the boardroom. He consistently challenges you to think deeper and present your opinions with confidence. You will feel uncomfortable but will grow tremendously by the end of the semester.

What was your favorite MBA Course My favorite MBA course was Strategic Branding with Dr. Susan Broniarczyk. We worked on a semester-long brand audit that helped me to gather data points for my internship project. Most importantly, she truly cares for her students. Dr. B has class happy hours and reunions to reconnect and even customized our class speakers based on companies that interested us. We were able to hear from many industry leaders, notably representatives from Wendy’s, Dell, and Bumble.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose McCombs because, as a career switcher, I really valued the opportunity for hands-on marketing experiences through MBA+ projects. I was also drawn to the city of Austin, the amazing food (tacos and barbeque to be exact), and the accessibility of many major companies. Additionally, McCombs students were extremely helpful throughout my application process by providing sound advice and connecting me with other current students. Their willingness to help was incredibly genuine and confirmed my fit within the McCombs community.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be your authentic self! Also, use the application process as a time to be completely introspective. Community is an integral piece of the McCombs culture and fit is extremely important. McCombs is a collaborative culture filled with amazing people always willing to help. Talk to current students to gain a better understanding of how you can contribute to the community and why McCombs is the right fit for you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? McCombs is known for its collaborative culture. While many top schools mention collaboration as one of their core values, it is embedded in our DNA. I wasn’t aware of the extent until my first semester of core classes. My study team members were absolute angels. We worked together to understand course materials and they made sure to take time to explain any problems that I did not understand to me in detail. 2nd-year students would also take time out of their busy schedules to tutor myself and other 1st year students as we struggled through the core.

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 importance of prioritizing self-care and your social life. The MBA program can be stressful at times and it is easy to get consumed with leadership involvement and academics, but balance is critical. You will be surrounded by brilliant people and you will be amazed and inspired.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? The past two years have challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone. The student-led community at McCombs has allowed me to exercise my creativity, become a change agent, and move new ideas forward. The skills and experiences that I have gained over the past two years not only accelerated my personal growth but also transformed me into a better leader.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? DeAndrea Staes. Throughout my two years at McCombs, there has been no one person outside of my family that I have leaned on more than DeAndrea. We first bonded through the struggle of our core classes and now she is one of my best friends. I have gotten to know DeAndrea on a personal level and I have seen her work ethic, leadership on campus, and passion for diversity and inclusion. I am honored to have co-founded Elevate with her.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mother. I was able to see first-hand the value of an MBA because of her. Before coming to business school, we had many discussions regarding my career frustrations and desire to transition to marketing. She encouraged me to take the leap two years ago, and I am extremely thankful to her for that.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an entrepreneur, working to expand and monetize my business, Bite Our Style. My two-weeks’ notice was coming regardless (LOL).”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? There is no dollar value that can be placed on the MBA experience. Through the MBA program, I have been able to travel to South America and South Africa to learn about global businesses and challenges. The leadership experience and skills, and lifelong friends that I have gained through the MBA program are invaluable and worth far more than the dollar value of tuition.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Visit all 7 Continents
  2. Dine at all 50 of the World’s Best Restaurants

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A genuine and reliable friend, with an infectious energy that is sure to put a smile on your face.

Hobbies? Cooking, attending music festivals, collecting rare sneakers, curating Apple Music Playlists

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

“When you think of Ashley, three words come to mind: creativity, dedication, and spirit. Ashley is an idea generator. Her level of engagement in everything she opts into is truly impressive. In school, she served as President of the Graduate Marketing Network, Co-Founder of Elevate: Diversity & Inclusion Conference, VP of Sports for our Sports Entertainment and Media Conference, VP of Events for the Consortium, is a member of our McCombs Ambassador Committee and a teaching assistant for both undergraduate and graduate courses.

Ashley, together with her classmate, DeAndrea Staes, spearheaded and successfully launched our first ever Elevate: McCombs Diversity & Inclusion Conference. Their vision for the conference and the goal of raising the discourse on diversity and inclusion led to support from deans, alumni, faculty, staff, students, as well as partners in the Austin community and beyond.

In addition to the diversity conference, Ashley took a leadership role in planning and executing the annual McCombs Marketing Conference & Case Challenge with approximately 200 student, faculty, and corporate participants. She played a key role in shaping the conference content and brought innovative ideas to the event to enhance student and industry engagement.

Professor David Harrison shared “Ashley Fox makes McCombs better. Her spirit and her smarts have brought standout speakers to campus and marvelous ideas about entrepreneurship, diversity, and inclusion to her colleagues and professors. She’s put her shoulder behind a number of initiatives in the MBA program that have moved us forward.”

If you ever think she slows down, just check out her Instagram feed. She never stops. We should all be so lucky to “follow” her, online and in business.”

Tina Mabley

Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program



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