2022 MBA To Watch: Jess Perez, Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Jess Perez

Brigham Young University, Marriott School of Business

“Passionate about mentorship and continuous improvement.”

Hometown: Farmington, Utah

Fun fact about yourself: Rollercoaster and thrill ride connoisseur

Undergraduate School and Degree: Brigham Young University, Bachelor’s in Finance

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Goldman Sachs, Credit Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Cicero Group, Salt Lake City, UT

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Consultant, Los Angeles Office

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Managing Director of Kaizen, an internal consulting group focused on continuous improvement within the MBA program

* Lead Consulting Mentor – prepared students for careers in consulting. Oversaw 12 student mentors

* Hawes Scholar – $10,000 scholarship and award given to 10 MBA students each year based on academic performance and impact on the program

* Savage Scholar – $5,000 scholarship program that allows 20 students to do an international operations consulting project. Worked with a marble company in Greece to improve distribution

* Vice President of the Strategy and Consulting Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I know it sounds a little silly compared to all the other prestigious business school awards out there, but I’m so proud of my superlative award I received first semester. My class voted me “The person we go to when the Finance TA’s leave us even more confused,” and I laughed so hard at the time, but it’s come to mean a lot.

My undergrad degree was in finance, so I coached a lot of my classmates through their first-ever finance class. Seeing them succeed was so rewarding. Knowing that they trusted me as a mentor and were comfortable approaching me is something I am proud of. I want to carry that willingness to help and excitement about the achievements of others throughout the rest of my life.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I had the opportunity to lead a representative council for the junior population in my previous office. We noticed some pain points around communicating across regions, so we conducted focus groups with dozens of colleagues in the US and internationally. We then developed initiatives to help junior employees form meaningful connections with colleagues they didn’t interact with face-to-face. I lead trainings on communication best practices (like when a phone call is better than an email), and made sure all global teams were having consistent video conferences.

I noticed an immediate difference on my team as junior colleagues in London began calling me more often. At the time, I was excited about the project’s impact, but I had no idea how relevant it would become months later during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because our entire department shifted to working from home, it became even more critical for teams to use technology to maintain connectivity and build relationships. I’m so glad I was able to make a change that helped us prepare for that transition.

Why did you choose this business school? My program has a huge emphasis on experiential learning – the model is called Learn-Do-Become. You learn a principle (generally in a prerequisite class) and then apply to various groups that allow you to get transformative hands-on experience. I loved this concept of Becoming – it was a big part of why I chose to study at BYU.

One of my favorite experiences was being part of the Savage Consulting program, which is a funded group that offers pro-bono operations and supply chain consulting to companies around the world. As part of my experience, I traveled to Greece and worked with a marble company developing a new and more sustainable product. I learned so much more than I could have learned in the classroom, and it’s helped me to be a better leader.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My quality management professor, John Gardner, changed my life. We learned a lot of very technical frameworks, but he then helped us apply them to our personal lives so the concepts would stick. At one point I applied statistical process control and Ishikawa diagrams to my sleep schedule. I’ve never been so well rested in my life!

One thing I’ll never forget is the differences between Kaizen (continuous improvement) and Kaikaku (radical change). Understanding the theory helped me to view making an impact in a different way. Previously I underappreciated the power of incremental improvements over time, but I realized that small acts can change the world.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I love the program’s focus on mentorship. During the summer, every incoming first year gets paired with a second-year student mentor to help answer questions and prepare you for the program. My mentor, Dallin Pope, really helped set me up for success when the program started. He got me thinking about my personal brand, introduced me to alumni, and helped me prep for interviews. Now that I’m a second year, I’ve loved the opportunity to support the incoming class.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I love how involved I was in my program. But if I could go back again, I would be more selective and intentional about managing my extracurricular commitments. In the past two years I’ve learned a lot about essentialism and the importance of having well-defined no criteria. Understanding these principles has allowed me to drive impact while managing my energy, and I know it would have been beneficial to learn sooner.

For example, my first few weeks in the program I signed up for a ton of clubs. While I enjoyed the interaction, I realized I couldn’t give all I wanted to everything on my plate. Now, I’ve cut back on the quantity of things I’m doing and instead focus on the quality. It’s been an important shift in mindset.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Going to a religious school, I’d heard most students would be members of the sponsoring religion. I was excited to find just how diverse my classmates were – we come from all over the world, have a variety of religious backgrounds, and our professional experience varies widely. The best part has been seeing how because of those differences we’ve been able to challenge our thinking in ways that make all of us better business leaders.

What surprised you the most about business school? I knew business school would involve a lot of teamwork, but I was surprised by just how much of the learning happens outside of the classroom. My first semester felt like a master class in team dynamics. I spent almost every waking moment with my assigned study team and it transformed all of us. Learning how to create meaningful change with a group is a lesson I know I’ll come back to constantly throughout my career.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Before I applied to business school, I spoke with a lot of current students and alumni. I knew a lot about the program and its mission which really gave me an edge in my application because I could tell my story in a way that resonated with the admissions department. Even more importantly, their stories helped me to recognize that this was the place for me. That certainty allowed me to be more enthusiastic and genuine throughout the entire process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am surrounded by incredibly talented classmates. Someone I’m really impressed with is our class president, Ethan Felix. He is incredible at building relationships – I’m pretty sure we all think we’re his favorite person in the class. He’s taken 20+ credits every semester, has 4 kids, is super involved in leadership, and yet he never seems to be in a rush when he’s speaking with you. I’ve learned a lot from him – I want to emulate that skill in my relationships and truly be in the moment with people.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I had a mentor, Tina Ashby, who was really influential in my decision to study business. I’d been taking classes in a completely different area when she reached out and helped me to see that understanding business would help me to be more impactful in any role at any company in any industry. I decided to take a few classes and realized that I loved how an understanding of business changed the way I viewed the world. It helped me to see why people do what they do based on where the incentives are, which enabled me to be more effective at creating an impact. I’m so glad she took the time to reach out and introduce me to something I hadn’t thought about. I hope I can be that kind of mentor for students in the future.

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

  • Become an expert in business strategy and be invited to return to my alma mater to teach as an adjunct professor.
  • Mentor someone through a career shift. Be the type of manager who cares more about people and their growth than about headcount.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has sparked a massive paradigm shift in terms of the way we work. As a result, I feel empowered to think outside of the box. I’ve always been more focused on impact and results than face time or office politics, and this cultural shift will allow me to get work done in the ways I am most effective.

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

“Jessica has been a leader in every way possible in the BYU Marriott MBA program. From quietly helping other students in her classes to taking a leading role in the MBA program’s fee-for-service consulting company, to leading continuous improvement efforts in the program. Her dedication to helping others is legendary—she even led a finance midterm review the day of her wedding.”

Daniel Snow
Director of the BYU Marriott MBA Program


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