Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Ezra Tilaye, University of Washington (Foster)

Ezra Tilaye

University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business

“A creative and energetic individual that finds happiness and success through my ability to connect with and understand people.”

Hometown: Springfield, VA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I played Division I football at WVU. I play the saxophone.

Undergraduate School and Major: West Virginia University, Landscape Architecture

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: E.A.T Management, Consultant, Founder

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? Seattle provides all the prerequisites I need to thrive mentally and grow professionally. With such a strong presence from some of the world’s top organizations in tech, food & beverage, retail, and more, it is a city that attracts a strong pool of great talent to work with, learn from, and grow exponentially.

Aside from your classmates and location, 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? As a candidate that wanted to develop myself in verticals surrounding product development and consumer behavior analytics, Foster was an outstanding program that integrated economics, data analytics, and social sciences. Research around brand attachment and consumer-brand relationships was particularly interesting to me as a future marketer looking to develop strategies to best separate and attract new customers to sustainable products.

What club or activity excites you most at this school?

Net Impact Club:  I am passionate about the opportunities that exist within organizations to create substantial environmental and economic change and creating the shift in the narrative around exactly what ethical business practices’ are.

Consulting Club: I am excited about the opportunity to learn and grow as a problem solver. Consulting club provides great opportunities to learn and connect with top consulting firms, and classmates, helping to develop a strong case prep foundation.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I would have to say my greatest accomplishment was selling my first business which I operated for seven years. More specifically, it was the culmination of starting my business, growing the business, and ultimately going through the entire sales process. It was a very exiting few years.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Sustainable design theory was an important part of my education as an undergraduate. Those lessons permeated throughout countless operational aspects of my business. To have had the opportunity to start my own business was an amazing experience filled with many challenges in working to both increase revenues while decreasing our environmental impact at a small scale. In the world of corporate environmental sustainability, understanding how brands and consumers decide to create and handle products throughout the lifecycle is a creative challenge at a much greater scale. And how the world of business can impact that behavior is why I am pursuing an MBA

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? Although I prepared for this question, it did not appear until the final question of my final interview, “What will you do if you do not succeed in recruiting within your concentration?”. The question is a completely practical question, but after having what felt like a very successful interview the question did catch me off guard and I did not give a strong response. The lesson I took away from that was to always be ready, even when you think the interview has come to an end. You should always have a contingency plan. As an MBA candidate, you must always be strategically thinking about your future, your skills, how to develop more skills, and how to leverage those skills for success.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My process was a long and experiential one. Much of my initial research was focused around identifying schools from ranking websites (i.e. Poets&Quants, Princeton Review, Forbes, etc.). I quickly began researching individual school websites and then reaching out to ambassadors that were in my metropolitan area. I was able to find real success by actually being on campus, meeting students, sitting in on classes and engaging with the university in person, and being able to gauge the culture and feel. When I began the process, many individuals I spoke to would speak about “culture”, I could not begin to understand what that meant, but once I made my visits, I quickly found which programs worked for me as an individual and which programs did not.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program was an amazing and inspiring experience for me. While operating my small business, I had been invited to apply for the educational development programming for entrepreneurs in the DC/Baltimore area, funded by Goldman Sachs and hosted by Johns Hopkins University. The semester-long programming, which hosted 30 local entrepreneurs, developed skills in entrepreneurship, accounting, finance, human resource development and accessing capital. I was fortunate to have been selected for the program where I learned practical business applications and collaborated with many talented entrepreneurs. Once I completed that very rigorous, but short program, I knew there was more to uncover and more to learn, and I knew an MBA was the perfect environment to just that.

What special ingredient do you see yourself bringing to the Class of 2022? How will that enrich the MBA experience? What I love about the idea of joining the Foster MBA program is the fact that everyone is bringing a unique talent: One that we will all be able to work with and learn from. Being a young entrepreneur, I handled all aspects of the business, and my greatest takeaways were my ability to lead with empathy and consideration and learning to make decisions in the moment that were rational and emotion free. I think making decisions on a day-to-day basis really provided me valuable teachings that I will be able to share with my classmates.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? There are so many amazing companies to choose from, but two of my favorite companies are located right here in the PNW. Nike and Starbucks are two organizations that I have found to be leaders in marketing, strategy, growth, and most importantly, social justice, and equity. The two companies have always maintained an inclusive environment and have successfully managed to grow their brands while being leaders around social causes while other brands refused to address them. Consistency has substantial value and is an important indicator in both the culture and the leadership that exist within the DNA of those companies.



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.