2020 MBAs To Watch: Ayla Olvera, Michigan State (Broad)

Ayla Olvera

Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business

“Empathetic leader, naturally curious, world traveler, loyal friend, lover of food, and good beer.”

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve lived on four different continents

Undergraduate School and Degree: Eastern Illinois University – International Business Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I served in the Peace Corps as a Community Economic Development Specialist in the northern coast of Peru. I worked with local government on topics of financial literacy and financial education specifically targeting women and young entrepreneurs.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Intel Corporation, Chandler, AZ

Where will you be working after graduation? Global Reverse Logistics – Intel Corporation, Chandler, AZ

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President – Graduate Supply Chain Management Association
  • Co-Executive Director & Co-Founder – Spartan Pride
  • 1st Year Representative – Net Impact
  • Most Professional Award 2019

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the reasons I chose Michigan State was because I saw an opportunity to make a real impact and improve the visibility of URMs and the LGBTQ+ community in the MBA space. Before the start of my first year, I began working with the MBA program on my vision of setting up the first LGBTQ+ organization within the Broad College of Business. Throughout my first year, a small group of stakeholders throughout the college worked to lay down the groundwork for the launch of Spartan Pride. We currently have an executive board consisting of both undergrad and master students committed to providing a more inclusive and welcoming environment throughout the college. We have also received countless support from the business college and its leadership.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? We have truly amazing and caring professors at Broad and Dr. B. is one of the best. She is one of the best supply chain professors and a real-life B.A. She is always willing to help students, inside and outside the classroom, and is extremely knowledgeable about all things supply chain and logistics.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I would have to say the tailgate season was quite amazing. I’m not a football fan but our tailgates centered more around the MBA family and enjoying a break from school…even for a little bit.

Why did you choose this business school? My decisions came down to a combination of wanting to learn from the best minds in supply chain as well as the opportunity to be a driving force for change. Broad provided me with support from the beginning to be myself and the platform to help others along the way.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Teamwork is a huge part of our culture and is necessary to be successful in the program. Not everyone is prepared to rely on others to get the work done, but the experience helps to improve communication between parties and gives you a glimpse into the struggles that occur in the real world when teams lack cohesion. Whether you’re a team player or not, this program will make you comfortable with it.  

What is the biggest myth about your school? I talk a lot about supply chains but the reality is we have amazing professors and groundbreaking research in each focus area. As MBAs, we have the flexibility to take grad level classes in most colleges across campus, giving us exposure to a variety of fields.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? As a Big 10 school, we have a lot of resources available throughout campus that I wish I would have taken advantage of during my time. There will be few times in life where we will have the opportunity to interact, learn from, and experience this level of innovation at our fingertips…for free.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Tony Felder… he’s always willing to help out classmates and improve the program without the need to call attention to himself. Humble, hardworking, and driven are the first words that come to mind when I think of Tony.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents have been my biggest fans throughout my educational career. As a first-generation college grad, and soon-to-be MBA grad, they are the idyllic role models of hard work and determination from their humble upbringing to their entrepreneurial drive and successes in business. Growing up, they demonstrated what hard work and goal setting looked like and although the process is never easy, it’s always worth it

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Launch a consulting firm specializing in waste reduction and environmental sustainability initiatives
  • CSO of a Fortune 100 Company

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The curly-haired classmate who is hard-working, trustworthy, and has the potential to enjoy herself yet slightly mysterious.

Hobbies? Traveling, craft beer sipping, hiking, listening to podcasts, staring off into the distance, wine tasting, cooking, and enjoying them all with friends and family.

What made Ayla such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“Ayla began to make her impact on the 2020 class before she even matriculated to the Broad MBA program. I first met Ayla on the phone as an admitted student, when she was deliberating on what school to attend. The details of our phone conversation have faded a bit in the past two years, but I remember the theme very well. Ayla wanted to make an impact that would resonate with the entire program, and hopefully the college. Upon entry to the program, she began to put that work into motion:  to create the first LGTBQ+ organization in the Broad college at either the undergraduate or graduate levels. After 12 months of tireless advocacy, research, and hard work, Ayla was part of the first e-board of Spartan Pride, giving agency and visibility in a much-needed way.

Ayla’s contributions continue to this day. As the President of the MBA Global Supply Chain Management Association, Ayla is the lead of the strongest, most visible student professional organization in the Broad MBA program. She has spearheaded professional treks in multiple disciplines and areas to ensure her membership has a signature professional development opportunity during their MBA experience.  Notably, trips to Amazon fulfillment centers allow her membership to actualize the supply chain profession in real-time.

As the chief graduate assistant for the 2020 MBA Class, Ayla works closely with MBA program leadership in professional development, learning assessment, student engagement ROI, and in alumni engagement.  Her contributions on a quarter-time assistantship have been invaluable. She has contributed to systems and processes that will strengthen the MBA program well after her departure from Broad. One of her most notable contributions was as the lone student representative on the search committee for our new Associate Dean for MBA and Professional Master’s Programs. Although many students would have been intimidated by such a placement, Ayla was researched, confident, and poised in all meetings and deliberations. She made our committee better.

Ayla’s peers have recognized her as a true student leader and professional. I recognize her as one of the top 10% of students to come through the MBA program in nearly a decade. We are sorry to see her go and excited to see her soar!”

Wayne R. Hutchison, Ph.D.
Managing Director, FTMBA


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