Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Aliyah Lee, UCLA (Anderson)

Aliyah Lee

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“A curious, driven, lifelong student who aspires to lead with compassion and learn from every experience.”

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have a passion for interior design and I love to sew my own clothes.

Undergraduate School and Major: B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Business Operations Associate at Blavity Inc.

UCLA Anderson is founded on the Three Pillars: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, and Drive Change. Which pillar resonates most with you and why? Of course all 3 pillars resonate with me, but ‘Share Success’ is the pillar that ultimately attracted me to UCLA Anderson. There are a lot of good business schools out there, but the prestige of these institutions can sometimes result in a hyper-competitive, almost cutthroat attitude among the students. Some people thrive in that type of environment — and that’s great — but I’m not one of those people. I’ve always sought out collaborative environments when given the opportunity, and Anderson really exemplifies that value. I felt it when I was a Riordan fellow and Anderson professors took time out of their schedules (on a Saturday) to give us previews of the material they taught in their courses.

What makes Los Angeles such a great place to earn an MBA? The best thing about earning an MBA in Los Angeles is that it’s incredibly diverse, so no matter who you are, you can find your people. Whether you’re into surfing or archery or glassblowing, you will be able to find people who are also interested in that same thing. No matter where you’re from, even the tiniest countries, you will come here and find a community of people from the same place. And Anderson really encourages you to make those connections, both with people like you and people unlike you.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of UCLA Anderson’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As soon as I was accepted to Anderson, I knew I would enroll in the Global Immersion Program as soon as I had the opportunity. I have always loved to learn about other countries and cultures, and my love for travel led me to study abroad twice in undergrad: first in Udaipur, India, then in Barcelona, Spain. It’s really important to me that I’m able to get some international experience during business school, so global education options were one of the key areas I considered when choosing an MBA program.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at UCLA Anderson? Definitely the Business Creation Option. I’ve always been fascinated by entrepreneurship. For a long time, it seemed like starting my own business was something unattainable. In recent years, though, I’ve realized that not only is entrepreneurship an option for me, but that I already have a lot of the instincts I need to start. I’m excited to get some formalized knowledge while launching my first joint business venture. I’ve already met classmates with some intriguing business ideas!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m really proud of the impact I was able to make in my previous role at Blavity Inc. I was the first new hire on the Business Operations team when it was created at Blavity, so I was heavily involved in the majority of the projects we carried out. Being so early in my career when I started, I was surprised and excited to be given so much trust and responsibility. Over my time there, I created and implemented countless tools and processes to help our organization run as efficiently as possible. Seeing how the organization has grown over the past 3 years and knowing that it wouldn’t have been possible without my input is deeply rewarding.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? The pandemic has completely shifted my expectations regarding working location. I never thought I would enjoy working from home, but now I can’t imagine a life where I worked in an office 5 days a week. It’s also led me to consider entrepreneurship more seriously, and I’ve even started my own home décor store called Pillow and Planter (

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I was at the point in my career where the next step was moving into a managerial role, and I didn’t feel prepared for that. I felt that I needed more personal and career development before advancing to a more senior role. I decided to pursue an MBA to expand my skillsets and increase my competency in a few key areas.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? USC Marshall

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into UCLA Anderson’s MBA program? The Riordan MBA Fellowship program is a great way to get to know UCLA and determine if it would be a good fit. They provide a free, 10-week application prep series for alumni of the Riordan program, whether or not you’re applying to Anderson. It helped me pace out my application tasks in a manageable way, and they brought in experts to answer our questions and offer guidance.

In your application, tell a cohesive story, about both the past and the future. Explain your history and what led you to pursue an MBA. Be clear about your long term goals and explain how an MBA would help you get there.


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