2019 MBAs To Watch: Ashley Allen, Columbia Business School

Ashley Allen      

Columbia Business School

“A soon-to-be MBA graduate trying to figure out how to make an impact in this world.”

Hometown: Columbia, Maryland

Fun fact about yourself: I have traveled to seven countries since starting business school (which is on the low end of MBA travel).

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Maryland, Baltimore County – B.A. Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Fidelity Investments, Relationship Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Capital Group, San Francisco

Where will you be working after graduation? Goldman Sachs, Global Investment Research

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Co-President – Black Business Student Association
  • VP of Admissions – CBS Reflects (The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Student Leadership Board of CBS)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I (my teams) placed (1st and 2nd) in two intercollegiate team-based stock pitching competitions I participated in during my first year. Given that I was/am a career switcher, these will always be moments in which I am most proud due to the competitive nature of these events.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During my summer at Capital Group, I interviewed the management teams (the CEOs and CFOs) for three publicly-listed companies at their respective headquarters for private, one-hour-long meetings. I led each meeting and, as nerve-racking as they were, I’m happy to report that I didn’t ‘blow it’.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Bruce Usher – I’ve taken two of his courses (Investing in Social Ventures and Bridging the American Divide) and he’s serving as my faculty advisor for a non-profit consulting project during my last semester. Overall, I find him to be incredibly down-to-earth, relatable, smart, and engaging. He’s a fantastic professor.

What was your favorite MBA Course? Bridging the American Divide – This course examines the political landscape in the U.S. through the lenses of class, race, geography and political affiliation. It culminates with a five-day trip to Youngstown, Ohio in which students engage with union leaders, local politicians, community activists, and non-profit organizations who are fighting for their community’s survival. I enjoyed this class the most because I was able to engage with others (students and local Ohioans) who view the world differently than me, challenge the perspective of others, and gain a context for different views I may have previously dismissed.

Why did you choose this business school? I came to CBS for its strong finance education and its location in New York City. Neither has disappointed me.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be open and honest about why you want to come to CBS. Admissions (and students) can see through generic answers or passive interest. Make sure your desire to be a part of our community comes through in your application (specifically your essays). Visit if you can!

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew how fast it would go by. Alumni I spoke to always mentioned how ‘time flies’ but it never really sets in until it’s too late.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? I have a new career! I came to business school looking to transition from private wealth management into the investment management, and I was successful in doing so. Check. Mission Accomplished! However, my interpersonal skills have also grown. I believe that I am now a more empathic and understanding leader; competences that I cultivated while participating in club leadership and community involvement at CBS.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Matthew Stevenson

Matt and I are in the same Cluster (B ‘19) and I’m sure we met during the first week of school, although I don’t exactly remember when. What I remember about Matt during those early days was his quirkiness, kindness and intelligence.

What I didn’t know about Matt at the time was the impact he was having on the world. As an Orthodox Jew, Matt played a significant role (arguably the main one) in the renunciation of White Nationalism by Derek Black, the son of Stormfront creator, Don Black.

Especially in the context of our current political and social environment, Matt is a constant reminder of the power of love and how it can be used to build bridges. His love in the face of hate is a beautiful reminder of how change is made. It is such a privilege to know him and I’m lucky to call him my friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My really good friend Alyssa Gudenius (Darden ’17). She knew of my potential and encouraged me to live up to it (even when I was convinced that business school really wasn’t for me). When Alyssa was exploring MBA schools for herself, she invited me to join her at a CWIB conference in New York City (on November 15th, 2014 to be exact). That was my first exposure to CBS and it wouldn’t have happened without her.

What is your favorite movie about business? Pursuit of Happyness – This will forever be my favorite movie about business given how relatable the story of Chris Gardner’s is to my own (overcoming significant adversity and committing 100% to a dream – all while being a single parent trying to provide the best for your child).

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? I thought really hard about this question and I don’t think CBS uses too many crazy acronyms. The one I find most fitting is:

COIN – Career Information Opportunity Network: the online portal where you manage and sort through job opportunities and career advising appointments

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still be in Wealth Management; likely advising high net worth clients on their asset allocation strategies.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less?

The cliché answer: It’s priceless.

The technical answer: Approximately $220k (the cost of a two-year education, all in)

I personally cannot put a dollar value on the education I received. The social and economic well-being of myself and my family have dramatically improved as a result of attending CBS. I find my MBA to be worth more than I paid but again, I struggle to assign a specific value to it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Explore/travel/backpack through the entire contents of South American and Africa
  • Move to London

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? “She is the sweetest badass you will ever meet.”

Hobbies? HIIT Classes (Fhitting Room), Indoor Spin (Flywheel), Reading Memoirs/Autobiographies – yes I think all these things are FUN!

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

“Ashley Allen has been an integral part of the CBS Community.  She has dedicated her time to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Board – CBS Reflects as VP of Admission and is an active member of the Admissions Hermes society. As Co-President of the Black Business Student Association, she has been instrumental in driving change within the organization and being a model of collaboration within the community.  She is a proud single parent who has balanced the challenges of being in a rigorous MBA Program with being a dedicated and present parent. She will be joining Goldman Sachs after graduation.”

Scott Siegel Ortiz

Associate Director – Student Life and Engagement

Office of Student Affairs

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