2022 MBA To Watch: Rachel Hadley, Boston University (Questrom)

Rachel Hadley (aka “Rae Hadley”)

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

“I’m forward thinking and genuinely curious about the world. I’m creative, adventurous, and outdoorsy.”

Hometown: South Hampton, New Hampshire

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a huge nerd- I love tabletop games and Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), and actually founded a local organization to run local games for the community and teach families and adults how to play DnD.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Hobart & William Smith Colleges, BA in Psychology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Glenora Wine Cellars, Associate Winemaker

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? AbinBev ( aka Anheuser Busch inBev)

Where will you be working after graduation? Undecided! Hopefully somewhere mission driven, such as a nonprofit consulting firm, B-Corp, or nonprofit.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Prospanica Award Recipient and Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar

Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) class of 2022 Fellow

2020-2021-Cohort Q Vice President of Alumni Relations

President of Questrom Uncorked

Link Day Executive Board member and Director of Alumni Relations

Teaming class TA and Peer Mentor

DE&I Admissions graduate assistant & ambassador

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  I was on the leadership team of Questrom’s annual Link Day this year, which is one of my favorite traditions at Questrom. Link day is a one-day pro bono consulting event that connects Questrom MBA students, faculty, and alumni with local nonprofits in order to tackle their most important business-related challenges. I was the Director of Alumni Relations this year, which allowed me to work closely with some incredible alumni and connect them to projects and non-profit organizations that they were passionate about helping. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to continue to shepherd the 20+ year old tradition of Link Day at Questrom, and to help foster new meaningful connections across the college.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Most of the achievements that I’m proud of center around bringing a wide variety of stakeholders together to make something magical happen. One of the most exciting moments of my career in this respect was my summer internship at Anheuser Busch’s global HQ. While I had previously spent my career advocating for change and innovation amongst more conservative thinkers, AbinBev was a place that encouraged me to dream big and push hard for my own ideas. I worked across the US, South Korea, and United Kingdom teams to create a pitch for a new brand to go global, and successfully won the support of the global leadership team there. While I’ve certainly had more lasting impact in some of my prior jobs, this internship was a proud moment for me in showing how far my leadership and relationship building skills could go, and realizing how much I can have an impact in this world if I set the bar high for myself.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Questrom because of the vibrant and close-knit community. I knew that going through a major career switch into the corporate world was going to be a large intellectual and emotional challenge for me, so having a strong support system was essential. While many schools pitch community as a strong asset, I sensed it immediately when I engaged with alumni and current students during the application process. There is a contagious sense of generosity, enthusiasm and support at Questrom that grows exponentially when students and faculty get together. Knowing that I am part of such a strong community has allowed me to take personal and professional risks that have pushed me to become a better professional and human being. Additionally, the Social Impact concentration adds an even stronger small community within Questrom and allows students to connect their interests with mission driven organizations.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? David Stolow, who is the Director of Questrom’s Social Impact program and professor of “Fundamentals of Nonprofit Management.” In addition to being an excellent human, David is the most exemplary professor I’ve ever had across my undergraduate and graduate career. He can make even the most convoluted topics fun, is great at providing supportive feedback, and holds a genuine interest in our success and education. He’s also just a very funny, thoughtful and kind person.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? As I mentioned before, Link Day, our one-day pro bono consulting event that connects Questrom MBA students, faculty, and alumni with local nonprofits in order to tackle their most important business-related challenges. Link Day is going 21+ years strong at this point, and allows our students, faculty and alumni to engage meaningfully with one another and give back to our local Boston community. Bolstering our community and connecting with one another on a deeper level is really what Questrom is about, and this day really exemplifies that. Students work across years and alongside their professors and expert alumni to create something meaningful for an organization that has an impact on our Boston neighborhoods. It’s a time for us to work together, but also celebrate together and reflect on all of the progress and growth our community has made in the last twenty years.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?  It’s difficult to deeply understand what one would have done differently in the time of COVID. Many decisions and calls were made based around uncertainty and a need for safety in a volatile environment. There are always social events and experiences that looking back I wish I would have engaged in, but in the end, I think stamina and endurance are huge parts of being successful in the MBA experience, and many of the things that I said no to were in response to this. At the end of the day, I think I would have tried harder to carve out more time for myself for self-reflection, in order to better focus my time and energies on initiatives that were the most important to me.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I’ve heard that a lot of people consider BU students to be a bit nerdy and more driven by academics than other schools. While this may be true to some extent, I’d say we have pretty balanced interests and put a lot of time towards our social lives and the clubs here on campus.

What surprised you the most about business school? Although I came to business school to expand my skill sets, I was still quite nervous about what I fundamentally didn’t know about the business world compared to my peers. Ultimately, I think business school taught me that a capacity and ability to learn and adapt quickly is much more important than having all of the answers all the time. Confidence in our ability to master the unknown, and to support our teams in this endeavor, will take us very far in our careers.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I utilized Applicant Lab, which is an MBA admissions software that really helps guide you to reflect on your past experiences, candidacy and goals for the future. This resource helped me shape my professional narrative and understand how to successfully navigate the admissions process in a way that would not only result in acceptances, but in offers that worked for me personally. If you are someone who comes from a less traditional business space, or simply not surrounded by others who are in the MBA application process, this tool can really help to make sense of the MBA admissions culture and environment. I also took a lot of time to network with the schools that I was interested in and learn more deeply about how I could contribute to these communities as a future student. This gave me a lot more confidence during my interviews later on.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire I really admire my friend Momoko Hirose. She has boundless energy and an exceptional ability to be bold, confident, empathetic and humble all at once. She’s also just an incredibly supportive friend and always ready to go on an adventure!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? A lot of people influenced me in little ways to go to business school. The biggest influence was probably my partner: she has an MPA and is an enthusiastic life-long learner. She’s always been supportive of me continuing my education, and her master’s experience at Cornell really opened my eyes to the type of skill sets more generalist MBA and MPA programs could provide, especially to those like myself looking to pivot.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would love to found a nonprofit or b-corp one day with a collection of equally passionate folks.

I’d also like to have a bigger impact on the organizational culture of a place where I work- whether this means starting and/or leading a resource group, or founding a mentorship program to help foster the development of new employees. Strengthening and re-imagining the communities where I work is something I would find very meaningful.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I think that the pandemic has certainly emphasized the value of individual people across our global and local communities, and the value of their own mental health and well-being. I feel very strongly that I would like my career to be aligned with my own physical and mental well-being. And as someone who has the privilege to go to business school, I feel a responsibility to protect and strengthen work-life balance for other individuals as well.

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

The curriculum gives an MBA program structure but its students give it life.  Rachel Hadley infuses Questrom’s MBA community with curiosity, compassion, and inclusiveness.  She lives our most cherished values and leads others to practice them.

Questrom is renowned for its culture of cooperation. Maintaining that culture requires continuous acts of humility and leadership – and Rae is our indispensable leader.  Her most distinctive skill is listening.  Inside or outside the classroom Rae listens actively and openly.  When she speaks she acknowledges what she has heard and the person who has spoken before sharing her own observations and opinions.  This simple yet potent practice builds a community in which diverse views and identities are valued fully.

Rae has devoted particular energy to the work of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Questrom.  She has served as a DEI Ambassador, Cohort Q’s Vice President, and a ROMBA Fellow.  Her service as a Peer Mentor and a Teaching Assistant for Teaming have provided additional opportunities to demonstrate and encourage the effort that building a diverse community requires.  She has sought and fulfilled these leadership roles with a soft-spoken expertise that has earned the high esteem of her classmates and professors.

An MBA Program cannot merely choose the culture it wants as if it is ordering from a menu.  Creating and maintaining a culture of collaboration, inclusiveness, and empathy requires wisdom, skill, and unwavering effort.  Rae Hadley has been the invaluable leader of the Class of 2022 who has invested that effort, and by doing so she has generated remarkable returns for our school.”

David Stolow
Senior Lecturer
Co-Faculty Director of the Social Impact MBA program



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.