2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Marshelle Slayton, University of Washington (Foster)

Marshelle Slayton

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

Committed and energetic problem solver who thrives on engaging others and leading diverse teams.”

Hometown: Camas, WA

Fun fact about yourself: I have completed 5 sprint triathlons in two states and hope to complete my first Half-Ironman Triathlon in Victoria BC just before graduation with three of my classmates.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Washington, Bioresource Science and Engineering with a Minor in Chemistry (like Chemical Engineering but with a focus on the science of Paper and Biofuel Manufacturing)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Regional Process Improvement Leader at Sonoco Products Company

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Amazon as a Sr. Program Manager in Seattle, WA

Where will you be working after graduation? Associate at McKinsey & Company in Seattle, WA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBAA Class President
  • Forte Fellow
  • Michael G. Foster Students First Scholarship
  • Peer Advisor for Career Services
  • C4C (Challenge 4 Charity) volunteering 80+ hours during MBA
  • Foster Consulting Society Board Member
  • Out in Business Board Member (Ally),
  • Career Management First Year Representative
  • Foster Consulting Society First Year Representative
  • Dean’s List Winter 2018
  • Student Ambassador

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being elected the MBAA Class President. I have always enjoyed taking on leadership roles and decided to run for the MBA President role midway through my first year. I felt very humbled and honored when my peers selected me to represent them. While I can’t say the journey has been easy or stress-free, I have had the opportunity to work with other amazing leaders at Foster to continue improving the student experience. By collaborating with my classmates, we have launched a new website, improved sustainability of important student lead events, and worked hard to improve student morals during the emotional roller-coaster of recruiting season. One example includes the start of a new Foster tradition, the “Secret Compliment Pass” where each student receives anonymous compliments from their classmates. Overall, this role increased the impact of my actions and pushed me to be a better leader.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a Process Engineer at a Paper Manufacturing plant in Menasha WI (near Green Bay WI), I became very interested in reducing waste for recycled paper mills. While setting out on the ambitious goal of reducing our plant’s waste by 50%, I lead a team that developed and implemented a set of best practices to make and sustain waste reduction. After encouragement from a couple of mentors, I approached our division manager to share my findings. Despite my short time of two years with the company, I established and managed a Divisional Material Waste Reduction Task Force of my peers across 11 plants. I created and rolled a scorecard to monitor and leverage improvement projects across the country. Collectively the team decreased and sustained material cost by 22%, recovering $1M annually. I am proud of this project because I was able to take a local problem, solve it, and collaborate with engineers at other plants to make an even bigger improvement.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Crystal Farh was my professor for Leading Teams and Organizations (LTO). Crystal’s passion and energy for improving student’s management skills is inspiring and made for a fantastic learning experience. Her class taught the importance of collaboration, recognizing/adapting to cultural and personality differences, and how to give employees a voice. Crystal is admired by many students at Foster and I can’t wait to take her for another management class before graduating.

Why did you choose this business school?: The main reason I chose Foster is the diverse and impactful people students work with and learn from in and out of the program. Foster is known for its collaborative and hands-on approach to learning and experiencing business. As a hands-on learner and collaborator, the structure of classes, group work, and the strong Foster Alumni Network drew me to the program. It is this collection of people that I have gained the most from during my time at Foster.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself and spend time reflecting about your unique skills and how you can leverage these skills to grow and push other at Foster and beyond. Explore how you want to lead, whether in front, supportive, or from behind and communicate your intention.

What is the biggest myth about your school? “Everyone who goes to Foster ends up staying in the PNW.” I personally wanted to go to Foster to find career growth in the PNW after five years of living in other states. I am impressed at Foster’s push to bring in diverse candidates who want to experience the immersive, collaborative, and hands-on culture, but are actively looking to move into other regions post-graduation. That said, I am excited that many of my friends are sticking around so that we get to spend more time together personally and work together in future jobs.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had spent more time looking into the careers of my older friends, parents’ friends, and family members. I wish I had asked more questions about their career path, skills, and choices along the way. Before school, I had such a limited view of the diverse career opportunities possible and wish I would have spent more time trying on these different options by learning about them first hand through my network.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Going to business school has had a profound impact on my education, future potential, and leadership skills. I have spent two years immersed in new subjects, explored formalized leadership roles, and tried out different styles of leading. I have learned how to build and implement successful strategies, build trust quickly, and gain buy-in on touchy subjects with no authority. While in a previous life, I could avoid saying NO to opportunities by juggling back-to-back events, the transformative chaos of the MBA made me practice prioritization of energy without feeling FOMO to events passed over. The MBA has been a life-changing and exciting experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Priya Gupta. Priya is one of the smartest and most humble members of my class. She spent the MBA program as essentially a single parent of a 7-year-old daughter, but still made Dean’s List every quarter and never misses an important social event. Priya always takes hard classes, is a dedicated and amazing teammate who always pull more than her weight and really contributes to the learning of her peers. Despite the struggles, Priya is always positive, works hard, and integrated her daughter Tanya into the program. Any time I feel super busy and stressed, I reflect on the grace and commitment Priya shows daily balancing her workload.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? This is a TOUGH one. I was influenced by many people, including my cousin Rachael who completed her MBA at USC; my parents who constantly push me to grow and challenge myself; and my friend Brian Baker a Foster 2017 graduate. However, I think this spot goes to my husband Trevor Bouten. Trevor and I spent three years long distance during my first job post-undergrad and while he earned his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. He has always reinforced my career focus. I was reading “The MBA Game Plan” and talking to him about my thoughts about getting an MBA on our way up to a hike where he proposed to me. Trevor always encourages me to challenge myself, explore unfamiliar territory, and to be resourceful. His support and encouragement in the application process drove me to start my MBA and continues to be unwavering as we near graduation. 

What is your favorite movie about business? The Devil Wears Prada – From this movie, I loved the lesson about working hard for what you believe in, standing up for it, and not letting anyone hold you back or force you to be someone you aren’t.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…continue problem-solving and improving efficiency in manufacturing across the US.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I can’t pin down a very good estimate, but I would say more than $500,000 over my career easily. It is worth way more than I paid for my MBA and the opportunity cost of working.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Complete an Ironman (completing a half this summer) and to visit every continent (minus Antarctica – too cold!)

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone they could count on be it for an assignment or a promise, but most importantly for a laugh, a smile, and a hug!

Hobbies? Too many to list! All things soccer, running, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing, knitting, reading, cooking, traveling, exploring, volunteering, anything Excel, and making to-do lists.

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

“If there was a novel regarding Marshelle Slayton’s time at the Foster School, it could easily be called The Ubiquitous Ms. Slayton. Name a part of the MBA experience and Marshelle has been a part of it. When her classmates were asked who embodied the best and brightest at Foster, her name was like an echo.

Here’s how one of her classmates put it: “Marshelle exemplifies leadership, collaboration, and excellence. On the leadership front, she is our class president and it is easy to see why. She tackles every obstacle in front of her and never shies away from difficult situations. When it comes to collaboration, she voices her opinion and ensures that everyone else’s is heard too. She has a personality that won’t let anyone feel left out. Finally, she works hard to constantly achieve excellence, both in and out of the classroom. Proof of this can be found in the hard work and success she had in recruiting with McKinsey & Company. Marshelle is easily one of the Best & Brightest.”

She can move from an early morning trip to hit the slopes with classmates to develop a survey with a faculty member as part of a student consulting team, before lunch. She’s willing to roll up her sleeves to volunteer for Special Olympics and don a blazer to meet with school donors. She’s valued by school administrators and classmates alike. And both will miss her presence at Foster next year.

Now, it’s time to identify the opportunities for her to return to campus.”

Andrew Krueger

Director of Alumni Engagement



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