2021 MBAs To Watch: Jessica Ahn, Dartmouth (Tuck)

Jessica Ahn

Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business

“Intentional, driven, and looking to push boundaries with grace and force.”

Hometown: Torrance, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I once danced during a halftime show for the LA Galaxy.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.A. Political Science and Education, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); M.A. Urban Education Administration & Policy; Loyola Marymount University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Management Consultant, Accenture

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? IDEO’s Purpose Project, Business Designer Intern; Future Work Design, Organizational Strategy & Design Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Bain & Company, Consultant

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Research Fellow: I work directly with Tuck faculty to provide input and insight for a research paper, which will contribute to the discourse on modern-day leadership and policy.

Tuck Talks Co-Chair: As a co-chair, I work closely with fellow co-chairs and selected speakers to continue a tradition which brings the Tuck community together with storytelling.

Center for Business, Government & Society Fellow: CBGS Fellows lead seminars to deepen our collective understanding of issues confronting the global economy which shape the context in which business operates.

Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Liaison: As a Tuck Consortium liaison, I help Consortium members adjust and make the most of their Consortium membership, engage with prospective students, and drive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Tuck.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?
With COVID-19 hitting small businesses across the country, a phenomenal classmate, Kate Balderston, and I organized and led a design hackathon. Here, Tuck students helped local businesses reimagine how they operate during a pandemic. This design challenge was in partnership with the Small Business School Challenge and competing teams earned cash prizes for their local business. Apart from offering a competition for Tuckies to learn about human-centered design, I am proud of running an initiative which offered real-time creative, analytical and financial support to small businesses in the New England area.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? It was the academic and behavioral work accomplished with my fifth grade students. Teaching is by the far the most challenging yet rewarding work I have done in my professional career. Given the significant gaps in fundamental skills, I introduced creative and strategic approaches into the classroom to address each student’s learning needs. Apart from academic endeavors, I am proud of making school-wide performances fun for students and ultimately helping my class win a trip to the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles to watch Motown: The Musical.

Why did you choose this business school? I knew Tuck was the place for me upon visiting for the annual Women in Business Conference. I loved both the people and the place. I knew I wanted to be part of a strong community and alumni network and there is no school that can beat Tuck in this regard. And Hanover is such a special, beautiful place. I will definitely be visiting every chance I get post-graduation.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Such a difficult question! There are so many professors I’ve come to admire. Among them, Dean Matthew Slaughter is one of my favorites. His class, Leadership in the Global Economy, is designed to connect macroeconomic concepts to present day issues and teach students how to articulate and defend their positions. Dean Slaughter is truly an impressive teacher in his ability to engage students and push our communication skills as leaders.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? TuckTalks—an event each term where members of the Tuck community share the experiences, relationships, or passions that have shaped their perspective and given them purpose. It’s an intimate event which helps create new and meaningful connections in the community, bring often-unseen diversity to light, and foster an even stronger Tuck fabric.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?
Go to every social event possible. As COVID has shown us, unpredictable events happen, and I wish I took advantage of what social events and activities were available in-person during my first year. I had the mindset that these events would also be available to me in my second year and didn’t need to attend all of them—not knowing that a pandemic would turn holding many large in-person events into an impossibility. I wish I had seized each opportunity when I had them. Lesson learned for the future: Take each opportunity as if it were the last.

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: Tuck is a small and isolated school.

Reality: Tuck is in fact a small(er) MBA program, but it is precisely for this reason that we have a strong school community, alumni network, and relationships. I love the Upper Valley—not once have I felt isolated and the area offers its own wealth of resources you would otherwise not have in a city (outdoor activities, local eateries, quality air, and more!). My real issue is not having enough time to experience all that the region has to offer.

What surprised you the most about business school? I met my partner during business school—quite an unexpected surprise.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The relationships I built with current students and members of the admissions team.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Shayda Teymourpour T’21—Shayda is someone I believe is going to do great things in her professional career. Apart from being ambitious and hard-working, Shayda is extremely resourceful and a skilled networker. I have learned so much from Shayda just by observing how she navigates her way towards career ambitions and demonstrating grit despite setbacks. Her attention to detail and negotiation skills are top-notch, and her ability to connect with all people with charm, humor, and intentionality is one of a kind. Shayda is someone to look out for!

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? By no means is the current learning environment what I hoped for in my MBA experience, but I know without a doubt that Tuck has worked tirelessly to create a hybrid and online learning environment that meets our needs. I miss the bustling on-campus life and being in a filled classroom, but I’m also grateful to have attentive professors who are willing to be on-campus and strive to engage students both in and out of class (shout-out to Professors Peter Fisher, Brian Melzer, Leslie Robinson, just to name a few!)

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My family. My parents and brother have been my strongest supporters in pursuing higher education opportunities. I am where I am today because of their sacrifice and unwavering support.

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

  • Design quality public services and systems to be inclusive, equitable, and enviable.
  • Give a TedTalk.

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

“Jessica Ahn is the person in the group who can orchestrate, execute, and make each member want to perform at their highest level. She is unstoppable and makes it look effortless. She has positively impacted long-standing traditions at Tuck, partnered with my team specifically to improve our Admissions work, and has also contributed to the broader Upper Valley community. When you collaborate with someone like Jess, you recognize not only her capacity but her ability to elevate a teams’ shared work. Our Dean defines leadership as the ability to articulate a vision and to achieve that vison with and through other people. Jess has embodied this definition due to her investment in others and her ability to positively impact the Tuck community.

Last spring, when the pandemic was impacting all business school communities, Jess continued to strengthen ours through the production of a community wide event called TuckTalks. While the event was virtual, Jess and her team successfully replicated the essence of this beloved Tuck tradition. This night of storytelling created new connections in our community. The work of Jess and her team inspired hundreds of people to tune in remotely. Her efforts mobilized speakers and audience members alike to witness and reflect upon the uniqueness of this shared Tuck experience.

As a Consortium liaison, Jess partnered closely with our Black Students Association at Tuck to respond to the national conversation around racial injustice. When many community members were looking for support and guidance, Jess worked to publish a list of resources and readings to increase awareness and provide direction and inspiration to the ally community. Her ability to act in support of others reflects a strength and confidence that is critical in the world today.

In addition to a significant investment in the student community, Jess has partnered with the administration at Tuck. Jess convened a task force of first- and second-year students to partner with Admissions to improve the diverse prospective student and applicant experience. She informed our strategic plan and positively impacted our process in a quantifiable way. She did not have to be asked! While balancing her summer internship, Jess volunteered her time to invest in Tuck’s future success. I was truly inspired by her focus and motivation throughout this project.

At Tuck we aspire to educate wise, decisive leaders who better the world through business. Jess has embodied this mission in word and deed throughout her time at Tuck and her impact will last long beyond graduation. I am inspired by her ability to improve the spaces she inhabits and by her strength to support and guide others along the way. I am confident she will continue this trajectory of positive impact. I look forward to her next successes and hope I have the opportunity to collaborate with her in the future.”

Amy Mitson
Co-Executive Director
Admissions and Financial Aid

Tuck School of Business



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