Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Kahsa Teum, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Kahsa Teum

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

“A life-long learner with a boundless curiosity and fierce passion for investing in others’ success.”

Hometown: Clarksville, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I was an undergraduate student at Duke, I loved the men’s basketball team so much that I slept in a tent for a month to attend the Duke-UNC game my senior year. I was seated front row and witnessed a great win, so well worth it.

Undergraduate School and Major: Duke University, Evolutionary Anthropology with a concentration in Anatomy and Physiology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Booz Allen Hamilton, Associate

What aspect of the school’s culture or values resonates most with you and why? The strength of the community is what drew me to Tuck. I really value the opportunity to build meaningful connections with others and Tuck’s small community is the perfect conduit to do that. Through formal events like Tuck Talks, River of Life, and informal Zoom hangouts, my classmates and I have gotten to know each other well very quickly. Tuck students have rich and diverse personal and professional experiences, and I’ve already learned so much about the world from them. I’m looking forward to even more perspective and experience sharing, which will allow me to become a more empathetic and aware leader.

Aside from your classmates and culture, 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? I chose Tuck because I knew I would be in for a transformative experience, and the flexibility of the general management education excited me. As someone with a lot of interests, I didn’t want to be restricted to one major or concentration. At Tuck, I have the freedom to take electives across different areas of learning without restriction. And if at any point I discover I have a strong passion for a particular area, I have opportunities to join any of the six Centers and specialize in that area.

Additionally, in researching Tuck, I found the program to be incredibly immersive as it had so many opportunities for students to immediately apply what they learn in the classroom. For example, students run an online and in-person gift shop, and apply the pricing, accounting, and inventory principles shortly after they learn them in class. I can explore my interests and immediately apply my lessons learned.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? My classmates are the most supportive people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. From grocery and supply shopping for students under their post-move in quarantine to holding review sessions for classes they tested out of, every Tuck student I’ve met has done something to support a fellow Tuckie. That’s what makes our Tuck community what it is – that drive to be there for each other.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m most excited about Tuck Community Consulting, which pairs groups of Tuck students with small businesses in the local community to help them solve problems. I get to leverage my existing skillset, plus all the new skills I’m learning in class to support local businesses. Being a Tuckie means not only building relationships with others here at Tuck, but also in our Upper Valley community, and this is a great opportunity to do that.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my time in consulting, I developed a transparency strategy for a healthcare system that is still in use today. The system was very segmented, with each division working in its own silo. I developed a multi-year internal and external strategy that improved transparency through knowledge and data sharing and increased communication. The client implemented all of my recommendations, and I was able to see the change in this healthcare system that came as result of the strategy I developed. These strategy-level recommendations trickled down to improve the quality of healthcare for the system’s seven million beneficiaries, and it was a humbling to know I played a small part in that improvement.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I reached a point in my career where I was starting to manage projects and advise clients directly and I wanted to ensure I had a strong foundation in business to adequately support and advise both groups of people.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Aside from Tuck, I applied to Fuqua (Duke University), SOM (Yale University), Wharton (University of Pennsylvania), and McDonough (Georgetown University).

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? “How do you want to be remembered by your Tuck classmates?”

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I knew I wanted to attend a small or medium sized school because I really wanted to get to know my peers and my professors, so I narrowed down my list of schools using population size. I then spoke with students and alumni about their experiences. I think what ultimately worked to determine fit was visiting schools without an agenda. For example, I first visited Tuck on a regular day, not on an interview or prospective student day, and I was able to see what daily student life was like and determined that it was a good fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Deciding not to apply to medical school was a major decision. Being a doctor was a goal of mine for many years and I worked hard in my undergraduate studies to complete all the requirements. In college, through professional programs and networking, I learned about and developed a passion for consulting, which I saw as a better way than medicine to meet my goal of creating larger-scale impact. It was a huge risk to change my career path and it came with a steep learning curve, but it was immediately worth it. Through this experience, I became more comfortable taking risks, and have continued doing so in business school. I take small ones, like volunteering to lead timed assignments, every day and the benefits of taking these risks have greatly enriched my Tuck experience.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? ZAAF is a luxury handbag and accessory company that was created to economically empower artisans in Ethiopia. The company gets the materials for their products in Ethiopia, provides jobs, and perhaps most importantly trains local artisan on how to build the products. ZAAF has been very successful and has been featured on platforms like New York Fashion Week and Vogue and has been included in gift bags at major awards shows.

Students can learn they don’t have to compromise core values and ethics to achieve success in business, and if they utilize resources from a community, members of that community should also reap benefits from the business.