2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Caitlin Styres, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Caitlin Styres

W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

“Analytical athlete, resilient humanitarian, authentic leader, strong-willed feminist, deliberate thinker, and a compassionate friend.”

Hometown: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Fun fact about yourself: I can deadlift 315 pounds!

Undergraduate School and Degree:

BSBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Double Concentrations in Marketing and International Business

Double Minors in Spanish for the Professions and Latino/a Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PPG Industries, Sales Operations Analyst [Atlanta, GA]

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Amazon.com, Sr. Vendor Manager as part of their MBA Retail Leadership Development Program [Seattle, WA]

Where will you be working after graduation? Katerra, Sr. Business Intelligence Analyst [Scottsdale, AZ]

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP Professional Development, MBA Association Board: In this student-elected role, I lead a committee that focuses on academic excellence initiatives. Our successes include collaborating with program administration to redesign the curriculum for the Class of 2021, launching an executive speaker series, supporting national case competition processes, and formalizing peer academic resources such as student-led “Resident Expert” lunch-and-learns, tutoring, and final review sessions.
  • Data Management Intern, Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley: A component of my United States Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship, I volunteer 10 hours a week at the BGCEV, a community-based organization delivering programs that assist youth in developing their self-esteem, values, and skills in a safe and fun environment. The staff here are some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met! I spend my time directly interacting with local kids at the club branches, as well as work in the main office with program operations and data analytics. I am a firm believer that we should apply the same data-driven approaches used to solve corporate problems to also improve our communities and drive for positive social impact.
  • Annual ToastDevils Competition Finalist: I won our annual ToastDevils speech competition on behalf of the W. P. Carey Graduate Supply Chain Management Club, allowing me to compete in the final round of competition against all other club-specific finalists.
  • W. P. Carey Full Time MBA Student Ambassador: Student ambassadors work closely with admissions to create exceptional experiences for prospective students, shaping our future student body. In this role, I am a point of contact for prospective students to talk through their program selection process [especially fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteers] and I’ve assisted with larger on-campus events such as preview days and our annual welcome weekend. Additionally, I continue to serve as a mentor and resource for admitted students once they have joined the program.
  • Coverdell Fellow, United States Peace Corps
  • Forté Fellow, Forté Foundation

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? At our 2018 W. P. Carey MBA end-of-year picnic, I was awarded the “Most Impactful First Year Student Award” by my fellow classmates. I was very humbled and thrilled to know that my actions as a student, leader, and friend were appreciated by my peers. Individual academic and professional performance is important to me, but I am most proud of my ability to connect with and help others around me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My summer internship at Amazon provided me with an opportunity to challenge myself as a business professional. While I worked hard, I still had an extremely fun and inspiring time. I loved having the chance to learn something new every day from my boss (Jamie) and my coworkers on the Sports team. On the final day of my internship, I received a full-time offer for Amazon’s RLD program. I’m proud of that accomplishment, but I’m even more proud that I was honest with myself about what I value most in life and used that to guide my decision for post MBA employment. I thought about where I saw myself in the future and what I wanted from my career, reflecting on the experiences that have defined who I am today. I know that I want to work with a disruptive leader with the potential to directly benefit underserved communities that I’ve focused on much of my career.

I’ve officially accepted a role at Katerra – a technology company optimizing every aspect of building development, design, and construction. At Katerra, our goal is to deliver beautiful and sustainable projects, faster and cheaper than ever before. Our success will ultimately result in increased access to more affordable housing options all around the globe. I’m ecstatic for the opportunity to make a positive social impact while working at such an innovative company!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Dr. Reynold Byers. He has a unique way of making his decision modeling coursework challenging and engaging with hands-on, in-the-moment problem-solving. His class was one of the most rewarding classes I have ever taken in my academic career. He knows just the right balance between supporting and motivating through failure. I can and will always be able to count on him not only for academic guidance but also for professional and personal advice as well.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course was Data Driven Quality Management taught by Dr. Brett Duarte. I absolutely loved my statistics course at the beginning of the program, but it was in my quality management course that I was able to get even more in-depth exposure to statistics in action in a business context. As I begin full-time work in a business intelligence role, I will heavily leverage quality management topics such as SPC and DOE for process improvement projects. On a more humorous note, this was the class that used designing a LEGO car and racing them for our final exam. While my team didn’t win the final race, we had an incredibly fun time building our car together!

Why did you choose this business school? Originally, I discovered W. P. Carey while exploring a list of Peace Corps Coverdell partner schools. As I began to dig deeper into the philosophy and culture of other MBA programs, I fell in love with ASU’s inclusive approach to helping non-traditional MBA students achieve their dreams, and I resonated with the program’s strong focus on analytics. W. P. Carey was one of only a handful of programs that required an analytics course as part of the core MBA curriculum and provided a formal Business Analytics concentration option with extensive additional coursework. It was this combination that brought me to ASU despite having spent the last 10+ years of my life on the other side of the country!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable; be yourself. Regardless if you’re applying to an MBA program or a new job, the most important thing is to find something that fits you. A good fit will set you up for success. Keep in mind, you are assessing the program/company just as much as they are assessing you – this should increase your confidence going into interviews! You’ll never know if a place is right if you’re aren’t being yourself from the beginning.

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 been a whirlwind of constructive transformation for me professionally, emotionally, and physically. I’ve learned to prioritize myself and my mental health, all while still creating strong bonds with peers that challenge me and change me for the better every day. Additionally, by making time for my hobbies [CrossFit and cooking], I’ve lost over 40 pounds since starting the program which has been a pretty significant transformation!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Every classmate has their own story, each one inspirational. We have active military, students who’ve traversed the globe alone, some with newborns at home, and others who struggle in silence; I admire all of them for choosing to pursue their dreams in light of and because of these obstacles. However, if I had to select one classmate that I most admire, it would be Brooke Cramblitt, our MBA Association President. Every day, she goes above and beyond to make our program better for current students, faculty and staff, and for future generations to come. She sacrifices potential personal gains by putting our student body first and is a true personification of “one for all.” I am grateful that I was able to share my time in the MBA program with Brooke and to be able to call her a friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? There’s no question in my mind: my mother most influenced my decision to pursue business. Even as a young child I remember going into her office on the weekends to stuff envelopes for marketing campaigns, and getting paid in Beanie Babies. She instilled in me a strong work ethic and showed me that excelling in business is a way to open up endless opportunities across industries, functions, and borders.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… exploring other outlets to continue using my business background to help others. Things that come to mind are working at a non-profit, opening up my own CrossFit box, and/or becoming a professional development coach.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? From an analytical point of view, the delta between my pre-MBA salary and post-MBA salary for the remaining working years in my career comes in close to $1.5M. But it’s hard to place a hard dollar value on my education, as this doesn’t encompass the value of the lessons learned in the classroom, the friendships I have built while in school, nor my changed mindset as a result of these new challenges and relationships. My time in the program put me alongside people who share the same drive and similar values that I do. I can certainly say that from multiple facets [monetary, professional opportunities, relationships, etc.] my MBA education was well worth it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • I’d love to go on an extended culinary adventure traveling the world tasting local eats. Honestly, there are so many places I’ve never been that I would love to visit. This includes Cuba, Thailand, India, Morocco – the list goes on and on!
  • Prior to my MBA, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic working in economic development. During my two years there I met some amazing people whom I now consider to be part of my family. Since coming back to the US, I visit my site every year around the holidays. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than witnessing the work I started during my service evolve and grow through the efforts of the community members who drive towards progress every day. One of my life goals is to purchase a home in my community of Higüerito and travel back more often. Who knows, maybe one day post-MBA career I will even retire and live on the island!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope that my peers remember me as a person who gave my time and energy generously to others, and as someone who made life a bit more enjoyable.

Hobbies? Outside of the program, I spend my time doing CrossFit, singing karaoke, playing with my pup Diego, hiking, cooking, and hitting up my local Goodwill with friends.

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

“Upon entering the program, Caitlin recognized a need to provide students professional development opportunities outside of the classroom instruction. She designed and implemented a professional speaker series that gave her peers access to senior-level executives who shared their experiences and helped connect the dots between what was being learned in the classroom and how to apply those skills in material ways in the workforce.”

John Wisneski

Director, Full-time MBA

W. P. Carey School of Business




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