2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Shoshana Seidenfeld, UCLA (Anderson)

Shoshana Seidenfeld

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“Creative and passionate tech-enthusiast who is in love with people, food, and the outdoors.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I am a certified Zumba instructor and kids’ dance teacher

Undergraduate School and Degree: Yeshiva University, BA in Economics and Political Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Management Consultant at Accenture working in their Health & Public Service practice

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I interned as a Digital Product Manager for the Starbucks Corporation on their Retail Technology team

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently interning at a software startup called Appinium which may transition to full-time, but I’m not yet sure if I’m ready for that startup life! To be determined.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Awards: Dean’s List

Honors & Leadership: Student Body President of the Anderson Student Association (ASA), Co-President of the Jewish Business Student Association (JBSA), Forté Fellow, Sandy Sigoloff Student Leadership Fellow, Easton Center Technology Fellow, Section-E President, Anderson Ambassador Corps (AAC) Student Interviewer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Stepping into my role as ASA President, I was excited for a challenging, dynamic, and growth-oriented leadership experience alongside my 14-person cabinet. That being said, no one could have known or expected the impending crisis and pandemic that would completely overthrow our student experience. Leading our 700+ full-time MBA students through the COVID crisis and acting as an ally, advocate, and strategic partner during a time of intense struggle and ambiguity has definitely been the extracurricular achievement I am most deeply proud of.

The past year has not been easy. I was elected to the position of ASA President two weeks before the COVID pandemic hit the U.S. When UCLA moved to remote learning in March 2020, we had no idea how long it would last or how serious the situation was. Students were anxious, upset, disappointed, and scared, and were looking for guidance and answers. Working alongside my cabinet and in partnership with the administration, I am proud of the ways we have worked to maximize the student experience during the pandemic while working to ensure the safety, health, and security of our student body and maintaining morale. Since March 2020, we have helped our professors transition to remote learning, facilitated a UCLA PPE drive, worked with the administration to disburse stipends to financially insecure students, advocated for international students around VISA and loan complications due to COVID, launched a fully-virtual student storytelling platform called AnderStories to facilitate connection and vulnerability, and developed the first-ever MBA Leaders Cohort, bringing together executive leaders from across the top 20 MBA schools to strategize on how to improve student experience during the pandemic and beyond. As someone with a deep love of people and their stories, I am particularly proud of our AnderStories program which has experienced immense success since its launch in December and will hopefully become a tradition at Anderson moving forward.

Though we have had our fair share of challenges and tribulations during this time, committing my time and energy to protect and advocate for my business school peers during COVID as ASA President has helped me develop a deep love and appreciation for my fellow students and leaders. I truly believe we will emerge from this experience as stronger, braver and kinder individuals and I am so proud of what we have accomplished together so far.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The professional achievement that I am most proud of from my career thus far is the work I did at Accenture on the Partnership for Refugees, an initiative created to drive awareness and corporate support for the global refugee crisis. On June 30th, 2016, President Obama announced a Call to Action to the private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments that will have a durable impact on refugees. In response, the State Department and White House jointly launched the Partnership for Refugees initiative to facilitate meaningful corporate commitments to support refugee needs globally. Accenture was asked to serve as the strategic consulting partner for the initiative and I served on the small 4-person team charged with driving this initiative forward. In the lead up to President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit, Accenture worked closely with USA for UNHCR, the U.S. arm of the global UN agency, to launch the Partnership for Refugees and facilitate corporate commitments in response to the Call to Action. After Nov 1st, 2016, Accenture facilitated the transition of the Partnership to the Tent Foundation, which now serves as the long-term home for the initiative.

Collectively, working with both USA for UNHCR and the Tent Foundation, our Accenture team helped secure 60 corporate commitments including investments and donations upward of $650+ million for refugees. In addition to the commitments, our work and deliverables included a landscape analysis, corporate playbook, website, operating model, and robust corporate and NGO engagement. Moreover, one of the most exciting parts of the project was the opportunity to travel to the White House in D.C. and help facilitate a Partnership for Refugees event, which convened 24 corporate partners and a number of key NGO and UN leaders for a set of impact area focused breakout sessions facilitated by our Accenture team. Walking through the halls of the White House with a worthy mission and purpose to protect and serve refugees was one of the most memorable moments of my career thus far, especially during the tumultuous political transition of 2016. This work was further meaningful to me personally as the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor given that my grandfather was once a refugee to this country many years ago after escaping the concentration camps during World War II.

Why did you choose this business school? People choose to go to business school for many reasons – career growth, networking, recruiting, social life, and more. For me personally, I came to business school with an intense desire to strengthen my leadership skills and capabilities. I wanted to challenge myself to grow, evolve, and improve as a leader, both in a personal and professional sense. There is no better place to grow as a leader than UCLA Anderson, and this became very clear to me after visiting campus and talking to current student leaders.

Anderson is an extremely student-led program and gives its leaders immense opportunity to create change and make an impact. Our Anderson Student Association (ASA) oversees our club ecosystem and council of 70+ club presidents, operates its own budget, manages its own elections, plans school-wide social events, and executes new strategic initiatives and programming. On top of that, our students fully lead our clubs and play an active role in recruiting preparation for first years, with second year students leading interview prep training sessions and facilitating industry career seminars for their peers. At Anderson, second year students are even a part of the admissions process, acting as student interviewers who help select our next class of MBAs. The administration at Anderson truly empowers its students with the tools, resources, and independence to lead and create change, and I think that is extremely valuable and unique. Looking back on my Anderson experience, I am particularly grateful for the leadership opportunities I have been given and believe that I have grown more through those positions than any other aspect of my MBA experience.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor at Anderson is Ian Larkin, who taught General Management in my second year. Professor Larkin has a unique ability to facilitate robust and thoughtful case discussions that have deep applications to real life and focus not only on business outcomes but also on values and ethics. He challenges students to simulate tough real-life conversations in our class discussions as a means to facilitate tangible learnings, even if uncomfortable in the moment. In addition to having an impressive career, you can tell that Professor Larkin is extremely passionate about helping people be the best versions of themselves and giving people the tools to be strong, values-driven, and strategic business leaders. Moreover, Professor Larkin has impressed me in other more understated ways, such as his intentional effort to incorporate female pronouns when discussing C-suite leaders in class. This small gesture goes a long way to creating a culture of equity and inclusivity in the business school environment.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite Anderson tradition is a newly founded one — our annual AnderCup competition, a year-long competition across sections that includes sports, talent shows, culinary skills, fundraising and volunteering, and more. During COVID, our AnderCup turned into QuaranCup, and we ran two supremely successful weekends full of virtual competitions including a bake-off, tipsy spelling bee, pet talent show, FIFA competition, and more. All the while, we nurture section pride and increase our volunteering hours and funds raised for our core charities. It is a win-win for everyone!

What is the biggest myth about your school? That we’re a bunch of bros looking to work in consulting or banking. In reality, we have such a robust and diverse community that pursues so many different career paths, including, but not limited to, technology, entertainment, CPG, social impact, real estate, and more.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Anderson is not only an MBA program, but a very close-knit community. One of our core pillars, “Share Success,” truly runs through the veins of our institution. Being an Anderson student doesn’t mean coming to school each day thinking about yourself, but rather thinking about the ways you can serve and better the lives of others. Therefore, a strong desire to give back to the Anderson community is a key value that we look for in prospective students. Doing robust research and speaking to current students and alumni throughout my application process helped me identify the particular areas of the Anderson community that I was excited to invest myself in and give back to, and allowed me to brainstorm ideas for tangible ways I wanted to make a difference at Anderson. I believe that exhibiting a genuine passion for giving back and having really detailed responses to those questions in my interview helped me stand out in the overall recruiting process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? A classmate of mine that I admire and respect deeply is Parth Chauhan. A fellow second-year, Parth has been the epitome of a team player, go getter, and overall positive life force for our community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I believe Parth is one of the most involved and impactful student leaders on campus. He serves as the VP of Social on the ASA Cabinet, as Co-President of our Anderson Onboarding Committee, as the President of our Anderson Comedy Club, and the VP of Challenge for Charity (amongst other significant roles in entertainment and entrepreneurship as well). When not in class or at Ruben’s Taco Truck, Parth spends his time creatively planning social events for our whole student body, executing incredible and much-needed comedy events, co-planning our AnderCup competition, executing amazing onboarding programming for new students, and more. Having worked with him on the ASA cabinet, I know firsthand the amount of passion and drive Parth exhibits for bettering the experience of his peers. He is always the first to volunteer for any task, and does so with a smile, positive attitude, and humility. He is a goofball who loves to make people laugh and has the enviable ability to just truly be himself and be loved for it. He has devoted 110% of himself to his fellow students this year and I am truly honored and inspired to know him and work alongside him. I know he’s going to make it far in life, and I can’t wait to see all the smiles and laughs he brings along his ride to success. Thank you, Parth, for everything you do!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? COVID definitely disrupted our learning environment, like it did for everyone else. Classes and club events all moved to Zoom, global immersion and capstone trips were canceled, and the student community dispersed as quarantines took effect and some students traveled home to be alongside their loved ones. It was definitely an abrupt shift in March 2020, but through the combined efforts of the administration, student leaders, and clubs, we have been able to continue learning, growing, and having fun, albeit in slightly different ways. This includes events like virtual career nights that leveraged unique interactive software to create a robust virtual experience, virtual wine tastings and paint nights facilitated by our wine club in partnership with local businesses, and even our virtual AnderCup competition. Though it is obviously not the same, the pandemic has forced us to think creatively and collaborate closely to salvage as much of the experience as we can for our student community.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? As a college student, I studied economics and political science as a means to better understand the world around me, how it operated, and my place within it. Since I didn’t want to become an economist or politician, I looked for the next best path to channel my learnings and skills, ultimately landing in consulting at Accenture. I would say that my most recent team members at Accenture and the work we did together helped influence my desire to pursue my MBA. My most recent project was with the Mayor’s Office of New York. Here, I helped design and implement a custom software solution to transform NYC procurement, saving the city money and driving efficiency, but also improving their support of small and minority-owned businesses and driving adherence to policy and equity in the procurement process. Working alongside my team to execute these tangible changes inspired my love for building transformative tech products and my desire to go to business school so I could pivot into product management at a mission-driven company. I credit my manager, Kevin, my client lead, Brandon, and my Accenture team members for helping me uncover this passion and desire to grow my product career with an MBA.

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

  1. My ultimate goal is to become a product and thought leader at an impact-driven organization. I would love to be able to channel my skills and experiences in technology to drive change in key impact areas I am passionate about, such as healthcare, education, and economic development.
  2. For four years when I lived in NYC, I volunteered as a lead dance instructor for a nonprofit called House of the Roses (HOTR), which brings dance and movement workshops to kids living in homeless shelters. Leveraging my love for dance to empower and embolden the kids who need it most continues to be a highlight of my life so far. Right now, HOTR only operates in New York City. In the future, I would love to help the nonprofit execute a local chapter of HOTR in Los Angeles and leverage the city’s robust network of dancers and creators to bring positive change to the many kids living in homeless shelters across the city.

What made Shoshana such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Helping run our fulltime MBA program during a pandemic has meant that I’ve worked more closely with Shoshana than I have with any previous Anderson Student Association leader. So closely, in fact, that we recently found ourselves laughing about the fact that her impending transition out of her leadership role feels like we’re both losing a coworker! This is a testament to how Shoshana has risen to the occasion and challenged herself to lead in new ways in a very uncertain landscape. Other students might have been overwhelmed by the impact of COVID and felt that what was now required of them wasn’t what they signed up for. Shoshana didn’t flinch for an instant. She has worked with the administration hand in hand, week after week, since March of 2020 to ensure that the Anderson community continues to thrive even while we have been 100% remote for an entire year.

This sometimes meant that Shoshana had to tell us things that were hard for us to hear. We had to adjust to brand new ways of operating, and we didn’t always get it immediately right. Shoshana was the voice urging us to communicate more often and more transparently with students, even when the answers to questions were “We don’t know yet.” She did this with tact and respect, trusting our commitment and navigating tough subjects deftly in ways that her peers could not.

Some days I would see Shoshana at an 8 a.m. meeting with our Dean and then again at an evening meeting with our first-year section presidents. She was always present, engaged, listening, and asking the right questions. Even in the hardest moments of the pandemic, when student tensions were running high, she didn’t falter. She jumped onto last-minute Zoom sessions with us and talked things through from every possible angle until we found the solutions that felt right.

Throughout all of this, she maintained her other leadership commitments and a dedication to her studies. Shoshana has always been very intentional about her academics, meeting with me every quarter to thoroughly explore her options. While other students ask me “what’s popular,” Shoshana took the time to fully consider what she wanted to learn while in business school and made sure she was pointed in the right direction. Her ability to stay true to her own goals and priorities in the face of lots of herd thinking has always impressed me.

Shoshana had enough on her plate keeping up with the demands of being a student leader during COVID, and she could have stopped there. But she was committed to also adding new value to the Anderson experience. She made it her mission to develop AnderStories, a safe space for students to talk about themselves and their personal experiences behind the mask of perfection that many in business school feel is expected of them. This has created an opportunity for people to be their real, vulnerable selves at a time when they perhaps needed that the most.”

Jessica Luchenta
Assistant Dean, MBA Student Affairs




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