Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Bryanna Brown, Washington University (Olin)

Bryanna Brown

Washington University in St Louis, Olin Business School

“Bridge-builder between equitable, innovative solutions, and those who need it most.”

Hometown: Decatur, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a classically-trained dancer who has performed in a professional contemporary ballet company. Ballet, Horton, Graham, jazz, African, Gaga, I have done them all!

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Arts Administration from Georgia State University #PantherPride

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Recruitment Associate, HBCU at Teach for America

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? “Around the world in 39 days.” was the first thing that drew me into the Global Immersion Program offered through the Full-Time MBA program at WashU Olin. There was no other program in the United States giving students immediate experience making strategic business decisions truly informed by the world. As a student who is pivoting from the nonprofit sector to consulting, gaining first-hand experience alongside my classmates will be pivotal to my growth as an innovative business leader.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Agile. As a Washington University Consortium Fellow, my classmates and I experienced Consortium’s Orientation Program virtually. This was a first for everyone, but throughout the experience, my classmates were persistent in getting the most they could out of it. Their grace, humor, and authenticity have already added so much to this new chapter.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Olin Black MBA Association. Diversity of thought is important at Washington University. Peer-led associations like Olin Black are the driving force behind establishing stronger pathways for underrepresented populations, especially Black Americans, seeking to obtain their MBA.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The greatest feeling is seeing your hard work have an effect on someone else in a positive way. In May, I had the pleasure of (virtually) seeing my first class of fifth graders graduate from middle school. It blew my mind watching the bright-eyed 10 year-olds—who really gave me a run for my money as a first-year teacher—celebrate moving into the next phase of their lives. The maturity and growth that has occurred over four years for my “babies” truly demonstrated how pouring into someone else can change their journey. My life is made to be of service to others and celebrating my scholars, in a virtual way, highlighted the joy I found in the classroom with my students.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Based on my experience, there are significant gaps in the education students receive primarily depending on the level of funding distributed to an individual school. It is time to rethink how school districts allocate financial resources for students and employees. Pursuing an MBA will equip me with the necessary business acumen to innovate, strategize, and disrupt the current education system on an operational level in order to improve the experience for students and staff.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process?
“Please share with us some of your personal story in 100 words or less.” As someone who has worked in four different sectors and has a breath of life-changing moments, narrowing down one small glimpse into my life in 100 words was not an easy task.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? A diverse student body was important. I needed an environment where I could find my community and directly engage with faculty and staff. Attending Diversity Weekend last November solidified the welcoming community at WashU Olin. Also, having a strong career center was imperative as I make a career pivot into consulting. Finally, a network of approachable and supportive alumni was a priority because alumni are the true demonstration of a flourishing program.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Pichas Peli said “On Shabbat, the light within everyone and everything is revealed. We need only the will to see it.” The first time I observed Shabbat, I was in Tel Aviv, Israel. As a second-year teacher I participated in REALITY: Revolve, a 10-day immersive experience for 40 educators grappling with questions based on leadership, values, equity, and synthesis. This trip was personally transformative because of the introduction to Tikkum Olam—the responsibility to repair the world by creating social change. This concept allowed me to name my true passion—being of service to people most in need. At this point, I was culminating my Teach For America commitment, but I knew that I wanted to build my business knowledge to be able to affect my students’ lives from a different angle. I knew pursuing consulting in business school would allow me to solve problems in the service of others.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? Currently, my favorite company is the Bridgespan Group. As a consultancy firm working to help mission-driven organizations, business students can understand the intersection of humanity, impact, and problem solving with the work of Bridgespan. A great example of their forward-thinking is Leading for Impact, Bridgespan’s two-year consulting experience that focuses on building the strategic skills of nonprofit executive teams to improve their organization’s performance.

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