2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Anika Wright, University of Rochester (Simon)

Anika Wright

University of Rochester, Simon Business School

“Intelligent, driven, and ambitious leader with a service-led spirit.”

Hometown: Bronx, NY

Fun fact about yourself: One of my passions is music, I grew up singing in church and played the saxophone in high school.

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. in Accounting, Rochester Institute of Technology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Senior Financial Analyst, FCB Global

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Eli Lilly – Indianapolis, IN

Where will you be working after graduation? Finance Consultant, Eli Lilly

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: President of Simon Black Student Alliance, VP of Corporate Finance of Simon’s Finance and Investment Club, Admission Ambassador and First Year Coach.

Project REAP Open Access Fellow, Marsh McLennan RISE Fellow, E*TRADE & Morgan Stanley – Belonging in FinTech Scholarship Recipient

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One achievement I am most proud of was during my time as first year representative for Simon’s Black Student Alliance. The club oversees Black History Month programming for Simon and last year the board planned to host events celebrating Black History every day of the month. The first-year representatives were tasked with coming up with an event and ways to keep the community engaged throughout the month. I came up with the idea to host a Black-Owned business challenge with the entire Simon community. We challenged the community to shop with Black-owned businesses or promote Black-owned businesses on social media. We also used the challenge to highlight local black-owned businesses and planned weekly trips to different black-owned restaurants. At the end of the month, we were able to generate $5,000 for black owned businesses and created lasting relationships with local businesses. This was my first introduction to a leadership role at Simon and it led to me eventually becoming the next President of the club.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My proudest achievement in my professional career was helping to create a financial literacy program at National Grid with a neighborhood high school in Brooklyn, NY. My coworker and I wanted to find a way for the Finance department to give back to the community. We decided to pitch the idea for a financial literacy program in partnership with an area school to senior leadership. We had hopef to create a relationship with the school, teach the students various finance concepts as well as introduce them to careers within the company and internship opportunities.

Our director agreed to sponsor the program and we hosted the financial literacy program over five weeks. We had participation from every level of employee, from analysts to directors and vice presidents. We would go to the school on the lunch hour to teach topics and, at the end of the five weeks, we invited the student to visit our offices and gave them a tour. We also hosted a panel with new graduates to give them insight about applying to college and entering the workforce. We worked with over 100 students and received high praise from the teachers and the principal. The program was enjoyed by employees and created a new opportunity for the company to give back to the community.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Simon Business School because of the small class size and the culture of the school. I initially explored Simon for graduate school in 2015 and fell in love with the environment. Although it took me almost five years to apply; the students, faculty/staff, and alumni were easy to access and extremely welcoming and eager to help every time I came to visit or attended an admissions event. Everybody that I spoke with seemed dedicated to my success and confirmed that they fostered an environment that I could thrive in.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor at Simon is Heidi Tribunella. She is an accounting professor who is very knowledgeable in her field. She is extremely friendly and uses real life experiences to teach accounting topics which makes class interesting and enjoyable for students. It is clear that Professor Tribunella wants her students to excel, and she ensures that they have access to all the tools and resources they need for success.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite tradition at Simon is celebrating different cultures through major holidays. Whether it is Diwali, Lunar New Year, Black History Month or Latin American History Month, Simon provides students with a platform to celebrate their cultures and share it with the entire community. I think this tradition speaks directly to Simon’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The only thing I would do differently in my MBA experience is apply a year or two earlier so I would not attend during a pandemic. I think the pandemic affected the relationships I could have fostered with my classmates and other students within my network. The Zoom happy hours and conferences were fun but nothing compares to meeting people in person.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Simon is known for being unabashedly analytical and people think that you need to have a technical background to excel here, but that is not true. The Simon community is filled with people who have diverse skillsets which make them an integral part of the community.

What surprised you the most about business school? The thing that surprised me the most about business school are all the experiential learning opportunities that are available to students. There are many different opportunities that allow you to work on real world business challenges and explore various industries. I had the opportunity to participate in a fellowship that introduced me to community development finance and impact investing. Between case competitions and study abroad, there is an opportunity for everyone to find something that they like.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think that thing I did that gave me an edge was attending multiple admissions events and having coffee chats with current students. By attending multiple events, I was able to speak with current students, faculty/staff and alumni and learn about Simon from each aspect.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? One classmate I admire is Anthony Galvan. We met virtually the summer before we started business school on various coffee chats. We bonded since we were the only Simon students invited to some of these events and then we found out we were in MLT and Consortium together. Anthony knew he wanted to be an investment banker and worked hard to secure his banking internship before school started. He then used what he learned during his recruitment journey to help other students improve their recruitment styles and secure investment banking internships. He works hard and is determined to be successful and doesn’t hesitate to help a fellow classmate in need.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I starred as Madam C.J. Walker in a school play when I was in elementary school and learning her story inspired me to pursue a career in business. Madam CJ Walker was the first black woman millionaire thanks to her haircare business. Her determination and drive to make her business successful inspired me to be become a businesswoman. As I grew up, I realized my strength was in math and numbers and that led me to become an accountant and pivot to finance.

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

  • Sit on a non-profit board
  • Being in a role that provides capital to low-income/minority communities

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has taught me that a career is much more than working to make a high-paying salary. A successful career allows for flexibility and benefits to support you in times of uncertainty.

What made Anika such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“It is my privilege to recommend Anika Wright to be profiled among your 100 of the world’s most gifted MBAs annual series. Poets and Quants’ “The Class of 2022: Best and Brightest MBAs” is a distinction that I believe this stem designated, MBA candidate has worked hard to achieve.

Anika’s inner strength, leadership acumen, and innate sense of what she’s capable of has come through what many have read as a calm façade.  You soon realize that this façade is the quiet and assertive confidence of someone who understands the need for, as well as, her ability towards impacting change for those in marginalized spaces. This awareness has been most reflected in her Presidency of the Simon Black Student Alliance and this team’s accomplishments in educating and motivating our community to lean in to great programming regardless of a pandemic and the in-person restrictions lived during a portion of their educational experience. She is also the Vice President of Corporate Finance for the Simon Finance and Investment Club.
What strikes me the most about this first generation change agent, is that what drives her is not just her intellectual property and ability, but values at the core of who she is that were ingrained by her mother, a hard-working woman who immigrated from Belize when she was 20 years old. “You can do whatever you want” is something Anika learned and owned. She believes that she can do anything, as long as you are prepared to do the work. Obstacles are hurdles she overcomes but are not there to stop her. They will most definitely not deter her from being successful and having an impact in creating equity and inclusion, especially for women in her career of choice. She recognizes that the female presence and influence is small in Accounting and Finance, and is intentional in entering that space with her MBA concentration in Finance and the goal of changing representation.

Anika also believes that there is a strength in understanding that “no one can take your education away from you” and that this places you on a path to success. Not only does this drive her passion for learning, but to also pay it forward. She helps prepare other Simon students for career fairs, and interviews, as well as, volunteers in Simon’s “PIECES” program which teaches fifth grade students various skills in financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

You can hear satisfaction and pride in her voice when she talks about a recent fellowship in an organization that matches executives in top organizations with non-profit boards in the community. She discovered an affinity with this organization’s mission about the importance in identifying our purpose in the work we do, as our calling may not always be aligned with the work we do. It is evident that with Anika these two are very well aligned. This experience has further fueled her determination to use her education to build equity, create opportunity for others, and find capital for low income communities.

I am excited for Eli Lilly and Company and the impact Anika will create when joining their Leadership Development Program upon graduation. She is sure one to watch and from whom many will learn.

When not giving back, and changing the narrative, Anika enjoys traveling with her friends, cooking and exploring new restaurants.”

L. Janet Mejias ’16S (MBA)
Director, Equity and Inclusion
Staff Equity Officer
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Simon Business School, University of Rochester

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