Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
INSEAD | Ms. Investment Officer
GMAT Not taken, GPA 16/20 (French scale)
Cornell Johnson | Mr. SAP SD Analyst
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Startup Of You
GMAT 770, GPA 2.4
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Admit
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Mr. Policy Development
GMAT 740, GPA Top 30%
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Hopeful
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80

2019 MBAs To Watch: Jasmine Ako, Yale SOM

Jasmine Ako

Yale School of Management

Happiest when I’m helping others, focused, caring, a busy bee.”

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Fun fact about yourself: I regularly cook and eat an exorbitant amount of spam.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Southern California, Business Administration

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Green Dot Public Schools, Operations Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? EY-Parthenon, Los Angeles, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? EY-Parthenon, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Consortium Fellow, Forté Fellow
  • Co-Chair, Internship Fund
  • Nonprofit Board Fellow, United Way of Greater New Haven
  • Admissions Interviewer and Admissions Ambassador
  • Career Advisor
  • Teaching Assistant, Innovator core course
  • Student Guide, Navigating SOM (Academic Affairs & Student Life initiative)
  • Case Team Leader, Consulting Club
  • Education Leadership Conference Manager
  • Net Impact, First Year Leader

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of co-leading the Yale SOM Internship Fund, where we successfully fundraised more than $260K to provide grants for 30+ of our classmates pursuing social sector internships over the summer. The Internship Fund – whose likeness has cropped up at many other business schools – was one of the first-of-its-kind, and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Our committee worked tirelessly throughout the year to organize multiple community-wide events and initiatives to raise money, such as our annual Star Search talent show (where even our faculty/staff get in on the fun and shake their booties to Britney and N*Sync on stage) and a superhero-themed silent/live auction. The Internship Fund is one very tangible way that SOM puts its values into action, and it was incredible to be a part of rallying the SOM community around the mission of sending more broad-minded, intellectually-curious MBAs into sectors that can greatly benefit from their perspective.

The Internship Fund is a constant source of inspiration that grounds me, and it’s where I found my identity at SOM. I learned countless lessons about leadership and the importance of building a community that I’ll carry with me into my post-MBA career. My biggest takeaway, though, is that one of the best things you can do as a leader is surrounding yourself with selfless, dedicated, and talented people, and amazing things will happen.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m really proud of the work I led at Green Dot Public Schools to improve the quality of its food service program. Over 90% of the students at Green Dot qualify for free and reduced lunch, which means that for a good portion of students, school breakfast and lunch might be the only access they have to a healthy and fulfilling meal. When I first started, our schools were experiencing all kinds of issues with our contracted vendors. In one particular emergency, we had to figure out a way to serve meals to 8,000 students with two days’ notice. (At one school, I stepped in and served lunch myself for a week.) By the time I left Green Dot, I’d helped to increase oversight of our vendors and implement numerous operational changes that drastically increased the reliability, food safety, and quality of meals provided to our students.

Beyond improving the food program, I developed so many valuable relationships and friendships with the school staff that I’ll cherish for the rest of my career. There are few people that I’ll respect more than the people who devote their lives, day in and day out, to students and their families.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Rodrigo Canales, who teaches The Innovator Perspective in our core curriculum. Rodrigo has a very distinctive, structured, and intentional teaching style that demonstrates to us how deeply he cares about our internalization of the core concepts and tools for innovating in business and the workplace. He has a way of beautifully unpacking every case, story, or pattern presented in each class to distill it to its core principles. He also sets high expectations for student participation and encouraged us to be especially thoughtful of the air time that we each used in class. Furthermore, I really admire that a lot of Professor Canales’ own research and work is focused on how to innovate and build more effective systems and resilient public organizations in his home country of Mexico.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite course was The Innovator Perspective, taught by Rodrigo Canales. Through Professor Canales’ class, I learned how instrumental and transformative the role of innovation is across all types of institutional contexts. Before the class, I stereotyped innovation as something that only flashy companies or start-ups do. Since then, I’ve learned strategies, approaches, and techniques for effectively systemizing innovation and bringing about positive change in any organizational context. The core lesson I’ll take away from the class is that fostering and sustaining innovation is critical to solving some of business and society’s most pressing problems.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? It sounds simple, but I’d say talk to as many students and/or alumni as possible to get a feel for the culture and ethos of the school. It will quickly become clear that SOM students have a shared value system and a strong sense of purpose, regardless of what industry or career they pursue. These conversations really helped me envision what I could uniquely bring to the SOM community and how to strategically weave those points into my application.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Yale SOM likes to tout its high level of integration with its home university, and my experience is proof that this is more than just talk. In your second year at Yale SOM, you can take any class at the university at the undergraduate or graduate level. Some of my favorite non-MBA classes I’ve taken include a Yale College education journalism class, where I got my writing ripped apart (constructively!) by a former editor at The New York Times, and the popular Life Worth Living course at the Yale Divinity School, which broadly explores the question of what constitutes a meaningful life through the lens of different religions and traditions. These classes stretched my thinking and learning in entirely new ways from my more practical MBA classes.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I’d come in with a stronger roadmap for knowing when to say no and preserve time when needed for myself and my personal well-being. Business school is jam-packed with recruiting, extracurriculars, and other commitments that can quickly pile up on each other and wear you out. For those who are about to start business school, I would say to prioritize your physical and mental health from the very beginning – you can only be at your best if you take care of yourself first!

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? As an individual and leader, I’ve developed far more self-awareness of my strengths, areas for growth, and inherent biases. Business school’s plethora of team-based assignments, plus uniquely immersive leadership electives offered at SOM like Interpersonal Dynamics, were the perfect testing ground to learn and receive feedback. SOM defines leadership as a process and set of skills that one develops throughout one’s life, and I hope to carry out this mentality consistently after I graduate.

Business school has also made me much more cognizant of the transferability of skills, concepts, and frameworks across sectors and contexts. Whether I was trying to solve an operational issue for a social enterprise in Indonesia or develop a project plan for a state department of education in the Midwest, I could apply similar problem-solving strategies and business principles from my core classes to each.

Perhaps most importantly, the people at SOM have left an indelible impact on me. Two years surrounded by a high concentration of driven, highly intelligent, and purposeful people permanently elevated my sense of confidence and belief that I can really achieve anything I set my mind to.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire my classmate Trent Anderson, who was also my co-chair and partner in crime for the Internship Fund. Aside from being one of the most hard-working, thoughtful, intelligent, and mission-driven leaders I’ve ever worked alongside, he has a heart of gold. I’ve learned so much from him on how to be a better colleague and leader, from how to craft a well-written memo to making complex decisions that deftly consider the needs of various stakeholder groups. I will miss him dearly, and whoever hires him next in the theatre management world is VERY, VERY LUCKY (he’s a dual MBA/MFA)!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have each had a big influence on my career. My dad is a retired schoolteacher, and he spent the last decade of his career teaching in some of the most underserved areas in Honolulu. My mom is an industry veteran in the home mortgage industry, and I’ve always admired how much she loves her job helping people through one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. Both of their careers, though in vastly different sectors, were very much centered on empowering people to live their best lives. It’s not a coincidence that my career up to this point has sat at the intersection of education and business!

What is your favorite movie about business? I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Netflix Fyre Festival documentary. As a former operations manager, I was almost gleeful to see the festival founders getting what they deserved as a result of atrocious operational planning and a lack of common sense. On a more serious note, though, I was struck by how the unscrupulous actions of the festival founders led to serious negative consequences on the Bahamian economy and local workers. While that might be an extreme example, as our influence grows in our post-MBA careers, it’s imperative that we think through all the potential consequences of the decisions that we make and how they might impact different stakeholder groups.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still be working in education.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less?A pretty high number! My pre-MBA experience in charter school operations was fairly industry-specific and narrow. While I still intend to work in education in the long term, getting an MBA completely opens up my ability to carve a broader path in the sector, while also giving me the credibility and natural transition point to explore other roles and industries.

I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to be a Consortium Fellowship recipient, which covered the cost of my MBA tuition – so the second question admittedly doesn’t apply!

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I would love to write and publish a book in my lifetime! I’d also love to take down the oral history of my grandmothers. They’re both in their nineties, and I know that every moment I have left with them is precious.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope that they remember me as someone who cared about them as individuals and about their happiness and success.

Hobbies? I’m at my happiest when I’m curled up with a good book on my bed! I also love to play and follow tennis and have recently gotten into baking (butter mochi, anyone?).

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

“Jasmine is a second-year student in the MBA program at the Yale School of Management, and has strongly exemplified the qualities of this particular award.

As the Assistant Director of Academic Affairs and Student Life at Yale SOM, it has been a pleasure to work with such a dynamic and innovative student, whose efforts to help broaden our extra-curricular programming have been hugely successful and, in turn, have benefitted the entire student population. Under her dedication and careful leadership, Jasmine devised a series of events that helped orientate our incoming first-year students, under the title “Navigating SOM.” Through Jasmine’s work, she effectively helped to build on the wonderful and vibrant community that Yale SOM fosters, and embodied the core aspects of leadership and integration for the whole community. Jasmine is also an Admissions Ambassador who has worked tirelessly with our Admissions Department to welcome the next generation of students to our community.

In her first year, Jasmine also led the Internship Fund Club, raising funds for first-years as they went into their internships over the summer. This included organizing large-scale events and providing innovative programming to help raise such funds. Jasmine’s ability to balance not only her recruiting and academic life, but also this intense workload, was inspiring to see and showcases yet again her talent and commitment to improving the student experience on a whole.

Working in collaboration with Jasmine has been an absolute pleasure, and I have no doubt of the great things that she will go on to next, post-graduation. Jasmine’s resolve in enhancing our community is something that shall be greatly missed after she graduates. In my mind, Jasmine is a fantastic example for our community to lead by in the future, and we are indebted to her for the impact she has had on our SOM community.”

Kit Heeley

Assistant Director, Academic Affairs and Student Life

Yale School of Management

Are you a friend of Jasmine? Leave a note to congratulate her.