2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Nuvie Ewharekuko, UCLA (Anderson)

Nuvie Ewharekuko

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“I am a self-motivated go-getter who stands up for the things I believe in.”

Hometown: St. Louis, MO

Fun fact about yourself:  I love being a server at restaurants, partially because I am a big foodie. While working full-time prior to business school, I was also a server just for fun at one point. (My manager at the time thought I was crazy!) Currently, I work as a server part-time at a restaurant in Santa Monica and love it.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Pittsburgh, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Majors: Marketing and General Management

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), Global Human Resources Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Microsoft, based in Seattle, WA, but worked virtually from Los Angeles, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft, Business Program Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Leadership Roles:

  • Anderson Student Association (ASA), President (first Black student body president at Anderson)
  • Anderson Real Estate Association (AREA), Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Honors:

  • Consortium Fellow
  • Toigo Fellow
  • Peter Bren Real Estate Fellow
  • Sandy Sigoloff Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As ASA President, one of the things I wanted to change was how we conducted club president elections at Anderson. According to our bylaws, each club had the option to hold their individual club president elections as they saw fit. (They only had to adhere to a specific timeline.) While this gave clubs a lot of autonomy to run elections in a way that best suited them, it also created concerns over fairness and bias. Instances arose in the previous election cycle regarding candidate suppression. As someone who takes equal access and opportunity for all seriously, I made it my mission to address this head on.

My proposal was to have clubs conduct elections in a way that required the votes of all paid club members. This was not the process for 54% of our clubs. I needed to get 2/3 majority approval from the club presidents themselves to change our bylaws and initiate this shift. Essentially, I had to ask the people who benefited from the current process to change it and reallocate their level of control. This was not an easy journey and I questioned whether I was doing the right thing along the way. But Anderson is a wonderful community that sees and seeks good. In the end, I was able to successfully pass this vote and change our ASA bylaws regarding club president elections! Future classes at Anderson will have a fair, transparent, and consistent opportunity to become president of any club and the campus is a more inclusive space for all.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At Nestle, I was in my second rotation in the HR Development Program and noticed huge inefficiencies in our hiring practices for general labor in the factory. Recruiting was decentralized, with each HR generalist managing it for their own departments despite hiring for the same roles. Demand was sporadic; production would tell us we needed 5 people one week and 20 the next. And it took a long time to bring someone in the door. From requisition creation to new employee orientation, it averaged around 8 to10 weeks to hire one person. I realized this was not going to be sustainable.

With peer support, I created our Recruiting Blitz process for the site. This streamlined all our activities as HR generalists so that we worked together to mass hire.  Previously, the interviewing process was piecemeal and scheduled one-by-one, so it took a long time. Under the Blitz, we dedicated full days to interviewing, factory tours, and candidate calibrations so that offer letters were able to go out the next day.

The Recruiting Blitz required support from the production team so they would dedicate enough resources to commit to full-day interviewing, and it turned out to be a great way to hire more quickly. We were able to cut our time-to-fill roles by 50% by working collaboratively across department lines. I am most proud of the Recruiting Blitz process I created because it made a huge impact in the factory that everyone benefited from, not just HR. It allowed me to see an opportunity for change and work to address it in a way that allowed everyone to do their job more effectively.

Why did you choose this business school? I decided to come to Anderson because of the opportunity I would have to make an impact.  I was seeking an experience that would put me outside my comfort zone again. I thought preemptively of the various ways I could do this, which included running for student body president and engaging in conversations about race and diversity with peers. These ideas made me very uncomfortable, so it was important I ended up a school that cultivated a sense of openness. That is Anderson. We are a student-run school and I love that. There is not a lot of red tape, and we are empowered to create the things we want to experience.  The possibilities were endless knowing I could come here and become whoever I wanted to be or engage in whatever it was that excited me. And I did just that.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing I would do differently is take my required classes upfront and prioritize that over the elections required for my real estate specialization. Everything has worked out and I will be able to graduate on time (thankfully!). Because I focused on my specialization first, I am left with little room for options in my final quarter of business school because of required courses I still must complete. It has left me with little flexibility in my closing schedule.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I think the biggest myth about my school is that we are all super chill, beach bums. While this is only partially true, Anderson is also filled with very much type-A, go-getters who have done some amazing things in their short lives. Overall, we are a very collaborative community, which I think is reflected in this myth, but we also know how to get goals done.

What surprised you the most about business school? I think the most surprising thing about business school is how fast the time goes by. Two years felt like it was going to be such a long time when I started my program, but I have blinked and it is already time to move on from the experience. It’s really sad!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? One thing I did during the application process was use the optional essay, which I think helped elevate my overall candidacy.  The optional essay tends to be wasted real estate and I was given the advice early on to use the space and state my case.  I knew my GRE scores would be the weakness in my application; standardized tests have never been my strong suit. So, I used the optional essay to make it clear why I would be a successful candidate in business school, GRE score aside. I shared from my life to show I was ready and able to perform on things that were not reflected in other parts of my application. The optional essay allowed me to showcase to Anderson that I was not a candidate they would want to pass up because of a score.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate I admire the most is Jong Yoon Park (JYP). I aspire to be more like him one day! I had the opportunity to work closely with him in ASA, as he served as the Vice President of International Student Relations, and he was such a joy on the team. JYP is someone who puts a smile on your face every time you see him. He is a ball of energy in the most authentic way. JYP is also an international student who came to the U.S. for business school and chose not to be a wallflower in the experience given the cultural and language barriers, but a leader in the forefront of our community. I am so impressed with how he has tackled his MBA. JYP is also a kind spirit and multi-talented. (He may be a full-time artist one day!) He embodies the way more of us should be.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The person who most influenced my decision to go to business school was my high school teacher, Eric Urban. He was my advisor and always supported me. Mr. Urban saw more in me than I saw in myself at the time and encouraged me to think bigger.

At the time, I had gotten into several undergraduate institutions, and I was struggling to decide which to attend. My “dream school” did not provide the financial aid package I needed to attend (coming from a very low-income household) and another school gave me a full-ride scholarship. I was torn on what to do. After talking to Mr. Urban about it, he gave me the clarity I needed to make a decision: He said to take the full ride, but when I pursued a higher degree to go to the very best school I could. And with that, the seed had been planted! I have always been interested in business (I did business-related clubs in high school and majored in business in undergrad), and now at age 17, I was able to see a future to pursue higher education with an MBA.

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

#1: To increase the number and retention of underrepresented minorities in the C-suite level of my organization. So much attention is paid to the overall organizational percentage of Black and Brown people, but ensuring those same people can actually progress through a company and succeed at higher levels is not given enough visibility. Many firms have a diversity problem not at the entry or manager level, but at the Vice President+ levels.  I want to champion the professional success of those who are overlooked and undervalued.

#2: To have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial in some fashion, whether that be internally through an organization to launch a major new initiative or externally through some idea I come across.  I have a huge entrepreneurial spirit that is constantly seeking opportunities to create and build.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has helped me see my career more fluidly than I had before. I feel more empowered to ask for preferences, such as location or work-from-home flexibility, because the world has witnessed that we can still be productive (maybe even more so), despite not sitting in the same office every day. I feel my career is open to the opportunities of the world, not just my immediate city.  With that, comes the chance to reinvent and capitalize on the everchanging dynamics of business and society.

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

“Nuvie is an absolute force of nature. She assumed her role as President of the Anderson Student Association at an extremely rough moment for her class due to the impact of the COVID pandemic. Her class had never even stepped foot onto campus, because UCLA was shuttered from March 2020 until August 2021. Their entire MBA thus far had been conducted on Zoom. When she ran for her position in February of 2021, almost no staff or students had even had the chance to obtain the vaccine yet. We had no idea what was on the horizon for us in spring quarter 2021 or beyond. Yet Nuvie confidently put her hand up to lead her class into that vacuum of uncertainty, knowing that no matter what was ahead, she wanted to ensure that the Class of 2022 had a robust and fulfilling MBA experience. Having worked with her side by side for the past year, I can attest that she followed through on that promise day in and day out.

While doing so, Nuvie consistently refused to settle for “good enough.” She was determined to bring a strong sense of in-person community and connection back to Anderson in the wake of the Covid closures. For example, I was able to secure extra funding from the school for the 2021 – ‘22 academic year for student clubs, to help reinvigorate on-campus activities. As ASA President, Nuvie could have made the call to simply split the money up evenly among all the student clubs. However, her vision was bigger than that. She felt that if simply given more funds with no clear mandate, clubs would likely spend the money on their own members and perhaps just order nicer food for events or some more swag. Instead, Nuvie wanted this money to be used for innovative events that would facilitate cross-club interactions, thereby getting more of the student population to develop bonds with each other. This required coming up with an RFP, reviewing the dozens of submissions and determining which ideas were worth the funding.  Nuvie and her leadership team happily did this, and awarded $50,000 to creative programming at Anderson that helped further cement her legacy as the innovative leader of a class so heavily hit by COVID.”

Jessica Luchenta
Assistant Dean of MBA Student Affairs
UCLA Anderson School of Management

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