2022 MBA To Watch: Ashley Patterson, Babson College (Olin)

Ashley Patterson

Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business

“Courageous doer that has the audacity to go after everything her heart desires, no matter what.”

Hometown: Syracuse, New York

Fun fact about yourself: I love theater and musicals. During high school I participated in the two musicals Legally Blonde and Fame, where I played the characters Delta Nu and Lambchops, respectively.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University At Buffalo, Bachelors of Arts in African American Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Northeastern University, College of Engineering, Operations Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Agios Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA

Where will you be working after graduation? TBD

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President’s MBA Scholar
  • W. Olin Beta-X Challenge Winner
  • Co-President of Babson’s Black Graduate Club
  • Graduate Assistant for Babson’s Chief Diversity Officer
  • Babson Women in Business Leadership
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Taskforce Member
  • Black Unity Summit Committee Member
  • Martin Luther King Legacy Day Committee Member
  • Juneteenth Committee Member
  • Sister Circle Committee Member

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Admittedly, collaborating with my learning group and being selected as a team from my cohort to pitch our product idea to Johnson & Johnson was a great academic achievement. However, I am most proud of the impact that I have made on the entire student body through enhancing the Babson experience by being a student leader in the multiple organizations and committees that emphasize Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion. I am especially proud of the institutional influence that I have made for all graduate students, faculty, and staff surrounding unconscious bias in the graduate student curriculum and graduate student onboarding process. As a result of sharing my own experiences with unconscious bias as a Black Woman in the classroom, I have impacted the trajectory of all students that will attend F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business moving forward.

By initiating a conversation with the deans of F.W. Olin Business School surrounding unconscious bias, I helped in chartering a taskforce that would address unconscious bias in the graduate curriculum and graduate onboarding process. As the only student representative on the committee of Deans, Directors, Faculty, and staff, I was a part of key conversations in addressing student biases in order to give crucial recommendations. I also conducted focus groups in order to share stories of other graduate students to make sure that their voices were heard as well. When institutional change takes place, it is never a quick process but I am so proud that with the support of this taskforce that unconscious bias in the curriculum and onboarding process will be amended.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of coordinating the Mass Black Expo, which is an annual event that brings together Black Business Owners and Entrepreneurs all throughout Massachusetts. The expo provides resources such as workshops on critical business topics along with major keynote speakers such as Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

I served as the primary point of contact for all internal and external matters pertaining to the expo, as well as the primary project and event manager, organizing and coordinating all items pertinent to the event.  I organized and executed logistics for 50+ exhibitors and 60+ workshop speakers creating and executing high level and tactical marketing plans in order to engage and attract guests to the virtual event

As a business student, I understand how important it is to have access to resources such as a vast network and learning how to effectively operate a business. I wanted to have the opportunity to impact Black Massachusetts Business Owners and Entrepreneurs and the Mass Black Expo does just that.

Why did you choose this business school? Babson is known as the #1 business school for entrepreneurship. As I chose a business school, I looked at the results of alumni. What were the successes of previous alumni? What industries were they working in or starting businesses in? While doing my own research, I was extremely inspired by the work that alumni were doing; of course keeping in mind my own long term goals of being an entrepreneur and figuring out what resources and tools I could also leverage in order to be successful.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite teacher at Babson was, in fact, not a professor but the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Dr. Sadie Burton-Goss. I consider Dr. Goss a teacher of life due to all of the wisdom that she shared with me during our weekly meetings in the past two years. Dr. Goss is a phenomenal DE&I Practitioner whose presence is felt no matter who is in the room. She is kind, fierce, and holds herself with very high regard. She expects no less from those around her. I had the privilege of working for her as her Graduate Assistant during my time at Babson and I spent the most time with her outside of my classes. Dr. Goss has become my lifelong mentor and I am so thankful for the lessons that she has taught me.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event was one put on by Babson’s Black Graduate Club where I lead as one of the Co-Presidents. The Black Graduate Club started a series called The Executive Spotlight, where we brought in executives to share their journeys with our students in order to inspire students and also to honor executives who are innovators in the business industry. The first speaker who joined our series was Paul Francisco who is the Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at State Street. What was extremely inspiring about Paul was that his trajectory was not the traditional business leader’s journey. My takeaway was that there is no one size fits all for success. What I believe was most impactful about Paul’s story was that he shared with students the unconscious biases that he faced throughout his life and as an executive. I thought this was a great learning experience for many of the students who attended the event that night because it opened up dialogue regarding unconscious bias in the workplace and how they can be aware of them.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing that I was looking forward to experiencing would have been studying abroad in Milan in March of 2022 with Dr. Lidijia Polutnik. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the trip was canceled. I spent the previous Fall Semester with Dr. Polutnik studying Economics in hopes of completing the experiential learning. Studying abroad is one thing that I have not been able to do while being a student and it is definitely something that I would have done differently if I could have. Babson does a great job of giving their students learning opportunities outside of the classroom and I know that this trip would have been an amazing experience for me.

What surprised you the most about business school?I think what surprised me most about business school was how similar I was to most of my classmates. Yes, we may come from different parts of the world and different backgrounds and industries. Like me, most people were exploring their options and working to figure out exactly what they wanted to do post-graduation. I felt a sense of calmness in knowing that I was not the only one that was figuring it out. It’s nice to know that each person has their own journey to success and that it does not come overnight. My advice to current and future students would be to trust the process and make sure you are putting in the necessary work to achieve the goals you have for yourself.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I don’t think that I had anything that was tangible that gave me an edge during my application process besides my mindset and mentality. While applying to business school, I had the mentality that I would not take out any student loans and that I would graduate debt free. As I applied and received scholarships, I made sure to negotiate for the best overall scholarship package. I was awarded large amounts of scholarships to put towards my graduate degree, so along with working part time jobs throughout my two years I can gladly share that I will be graduating debt free with my MBA Degree.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? My friend and Co-President, Alexander M. Oubre. Alex is genuinely a kind, smart, and very humble person. We worked closely together because we ran the Black Graduate Club alongside one other. I could always count on Alex to support my leadership but also challenge ideas that he saw differently. I considered Alex and I the dream team since we were student leaders in the Black Graduate Club working to make great strides for the Babson Community and also our community at large.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My Mom has always been a force to be reckoned with. She has been a serial entrepreneur all of her life and she is the epitome of starting where you are and using what you have in order to get the results that you want. She has always encouraged me to pursue education in order to reap the maximum benefits of life. One thing that I truly admire about my Mom is the fact that she is a lifelong learner. No matter what, she continues learning in order to reach any goal that she has for herself. This is definitely where I get my grit from.

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

  1. The first item on my bucket list is to work and live in another country.
  2. Help black women and girls who come from inner cities attend college and graduate school, debt free.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has made me hungry to go after everything that I want for my life. Completing an MBA during a global pandemic and excelling has only made me more confident in who I am and what my abilities are. I have accomplished so much during the past two years and it is only fuel to continue achieving my goals.

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

“I first encountered Ashley in class, where she was a first -year student in my MBA Core Marketing class in the fall of 2020. Ashley expressed a strong interest in and passion for the course content, making her presence felt early in the class. The course had a significant emphasis on analytical capability, class contributions and participation, and the ability to communicate complex ideas in professional settings – and Ashley excelled in all areas. Academically, Ashley is one of the best MBA students of her year.

However, it was as a student leader and voice for the underrepresented that Ashley truly stood out. Ashley was the MBA student representative on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force that I, as a faculty member of color, was asked to participate in. It was Ashley’s contributions as the representative voice of students of color in the MBA program that fundamentally influenced, and ultimately shifted, the mindsets and attitudes of others on that Task Force – and were instrumental in the team’s final recommendations to the College’s senior administration. As one of the few MBA students of color, and the only Black woman in her cohort, Ashley was the epitome of grace, candor, and honesty that the work required. She was not afraid to reveal and explain some difficult truths from the minority student perspective – and it was that perspective that elevated not only the mandate and work of the task force, but also the entire MBA class.

Ashley Patterson is indeed one of Babson’s ‘Best and Brightest’, and I truly hope that Poets and Quants recognizes her as someone who personifies what an MBA student can and should be.”

Gary Ottley, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer




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