2019 MBAs To Watch: Lauren Rowley. U.C.-San Diego (Rady)

Lauren Rowley

Rady School of Management, University of California San Diego

“Lauren helps innovators scale. She consults biotechs, B-corps, and nonprofits on business strategy and fundraising.”

Hometown: Carl Junction, Missouri

Fun fact about yourself:  I became certified to teach yoga after spending several months in India and Nepal studying Vipassana meditation and Iyengar yoga. I now teach private lessons and offer free classes for the Rady community.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Kansas, Bachelor of Social Work

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  Reality Changers, Director of Advancement; I directed business development, marketing, and public relations for a social enterprise providing college access for thousands of disadvantaged students.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? While I have not yet confirmed my summer internship for 2019, I aim to work in financial services, impact investing, or philanthropy.

Where will you be working after graduation? In impact investing or in strategy consulting.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Rady School of Management Consulting Club at UC San Diego, 01/2019-present
  • Marketing Lead, Haas-Patagonia Sustainable Packaging Case Competition, 01/2019-present
  • Project Lead, Advanced Professional Degree Consulting Club at UC San Diego, 12/2018-present
  • Project Lead, Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge, 12/2018-present
  • Board Member / Member, San Diego Regional Chamber Young Leaders, 07/2017-present
  • Board Member / Member, Association of Fundraising Professionals, 06/2017-present

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of two things. I was invited to participate in two case competitions focused on sustainable investing. The teams were formed organically and I was surprised to see myself providing vision, direction, and ensuring the final products were organized, well-written, and cleanly designed. Through these experiences, I identified an opportunity to revive the Consulting Club at Rady. The goal of reviving the club is to facilitate greater access to competitions and other essential resources for Rady students pursuing careers in consulting. Together, we will host Rady’s first case competition later this year or early 2020.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of creating a self-sustaining department within an organization. I requested the opportunity to work as Director of Advancement at Reality Changers after serving for a few months as an Executive Fellow. I was asked to throw a gala and ended up executing Reality Changers’ most successful fundraiser ever, raising over $170K. I saw the opportunity to take ownership of the department and was able to streamline and expand the existing fundraising strategy to generate $2.3M annually through grants, events, strategic partnerships with foundations and corporations, and planned gifts. After developing the brand strategy, the second annual gala raised $475K.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  My favorite MBA professor is William Mullins, who teaches core finance. This has been my favorite class so far. Professor Mullins provides so many rich examples to drill in concepts – most of which are new to me – so I feel very confident in understanding nuances surrounding each subject.

What was your favorite MBA Course?  Finance not only deals with what happens within the firm but also what is happening outside of the firm. In fact, finance requires a vast knowledge of what is happening outside of the firm, more so than other areas of MBA study such as operations, quantitative analysis, or even marketing. I find myself attracted to playing on a bigger field with more elements at play. It allows for more creativity and strategic execution.

Why did you choose this business school?  Rady School of Management at UC San Diego is nestled within an incubator of innovation. Going to school here has allowed me to work with brilliant PhD-level scientists on a consulting project for a biotech startup. UC San Diego is well-known for attracting nontraditional scholars – many of my classmates are entrepreneurs or will go on to be. I chose Rady so that I could be part of a diverse, science-forward learning community that not only knows how to innovate but also knows how to bring that innovation to market.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  Be yourself. We all know the statistics of an ideal MBA candidate (which is not me), but Rady School of Management seeks to attract the most diverse group of innovators and disruptors from all over the world. The learning environment created as a result is dynamic. I am learning so much about cultures different from my own and am able to lend a unique perspective that augments my classmates’ learning as well.

What is the biggest myth about your school? As a San Diego local, I thought the Rady School of Management enrolled a majority of local professionals. In fact, over 50% of the students in my cohort are international. The learning environment this creates is incredible. As much as I am developing my business acumen, I am also learning a lot about how these concepts apply across cultures.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program?  Start reading Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal every day. Starting today.

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 been transformed by how many more points of reference I have to inform each decision that I make. The breadth of my worldview — from diverse industries to unique business strategies — is rapidly expanding every day.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ehsan Amozegar survived a year in solitary confinement in Iran after refusing to be silent about his beliefs. I admire his curiosity, his grit, and his willingness to abandon his home in pursuit of his purpose. I love the ways in which he shares his experiences, his cultural perspective, and especially when he brings Iranian fare to share.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The first job I had out of college was at a non-profit run by a woman who had her MBA. The organization was able to consistently scale to serve more people in the community. Operations were always smooth. I didn’t fully appreciate her skill as our CEO until I later worked at nonprofits with no MBAs on staff. The difference was dramatic. I want to create more strategic and efficient environments as I continue to grow in my career. Pursuing an MBA seemed the obvious choice to achieve that goal.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Big Short helped me better understand the financial crisis, which spurred my interest in working in finance.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? A Giffen Good “is a product that people consume more of as the price rises and vice versa—violating the basic law of demand” (Wikipedia). Whenever I hear the word, I think of Gryffindoor.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… working as a philanthropy director at a nonprofit.

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less?  My MBA education is invaluable. It’s worth far more than I paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?  I would like to start my own social enterprise venture and travel to China. I think China will happen within the year.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you?  I would like to be remembered as a valued collaborator who contributes ideas, humor, and the midnight oil to fuel innovation.

Hobbies?  On the weekends, I enjoy sailing with my husband and taking sunset strolls with our pup.

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

“We are so fortunate to have Lauren Rowley as a member of our MBA class of 2020. Lauren is thoughtful, active in her pursuit of learning, and willing to engage in hard problems. Her participation in the MBA program draws on a background that includes work on a range of important societal issues. This has given her both leadership experience and significant expertise in how business principles interface with real-world problems, which she applies to dynamic classroom discussions and uses to enrich our community here at Rady more broadly.”

Uma Karmarkar
Joint Assistant Professor
Rady School of Management and the School of Global Policy and Strategy

Are you a friend of Lauren? Leave a comment to congratulate her.