2022 MBA To Watch: Sasha Duchin, University of Washington (Foster)

Sasha Duchin

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Empathetic and strategic leader passionate about advocating for others and community-building to drive impact.”

Hometown: Menlo Park, California

Fun fact about yourself: In college, I played trumpet in the University of California Berkeley’s Marching Band. We played on the football field every home game and traveled with the team to New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and other cities throughout the US!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Undergraduate: BA in Architecture, University of California – Berkeley

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Senior Stylist at Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service pairing data science and algorithms with the human element of styling.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021?

  • PK Consulting (currently Concentrix Catalyst), Seattle, WA
  • MBA Social Impact Fellow at Inspiring Capital (currently Purposeful Growth Institute), Remote, USA

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Consultant at Concentrix Catalyst (formally PK Consulting)

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • MBA Association President
  • Executive Vice President of Foster Marketing Association
  • Social Media Coordinator for Foster’s Full-time MBA accounts
  • MBA Student Ambassador
  • C4C (Challenge 4 Charity) volunteering 60+ hours during MBA program
  • First Year Board Member – Diversity in Business
  • First Year Board Member – Women in Business
  • First Year Board Member – C4C (Challenge 4 Charity) Auction Committee
  • Forté Fellow
  • Scholarship Recipient: Jim and Cheryl Jiambalvo Fund for Study Abroad, Glen and Lucille Legoe MBA, Boeing Fellowship in Business, and Bernice Strahl Caverly

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of serving as the President of the MBA Association. I viewed my role as an advocate — to elevate my classmates’ voices, not my own ideas. Transitioning from virtual to in-person had many different challenges, but I am proud of myself and the Foster student leaders who continued to build the strong Foster community throughout my time at the program. I initiated student town halls with school administration and updated our club bylaws to have a more inclusive election process going forward. As I reflect back on the role, I cared about amplifying student voices and opinions and was not afraid to speak up to ensure that all voices in the program were heard and feedback was acted on. I was supported by my classmates through their trust placed in me, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the association.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While I was an Executive Team Leader at Target, I led teams across multiple departments and stores. I could pick a few different scenarios in which I streamlined operations and increased sales, but I am most proud of the leadership development I provided for my team. Over the course of four years, I was able to work with the most amazing people who came from diverse backgrounds and had different career goals. I worked with my team members to strategize unique career opportunities and support them in their expanded roles to strengthen our leadership pipeline in each position. By the time I left Target, I had supported the promotions of more than 8 employees moving to senior roles, assistant managers, and manager positions.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted to be in a program where I felt like I could make an impact and be in a community that I felt I belonged in. Foster was just that. With its smaller cohort size and strong collaborative community, I could be involved and leave business school with not only a career transition and a larger network, but also a community in which I will stay a part of for my life. People go to business school for all sorts of reasons. When I focused on the people through small moments—like walking around campus with classmates or going on big trips where 50 classmates went camping and looked past their job title and career path—I not only gained friends and a community, but I grew as a person as well.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? There are so many professors I could choose, but I have to say Jennifer Koski was my favorite professor. She teaches Problems in Business Finance as an elective that I took my second year. I have always been a bit scared of finance and felt imposter syndrome in the room when talking to my classmates. Professor Koski’s passion for finance and her ability to break down cases so that anyone could follow along helped build the confidence I now have in the subject. After a year of virtual learning, it was refreshing to take her class as she was kind and engaging throughout the entire quarter, empowering students to participate throughout class.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Again, so many to choose from!  With our first year conducted virtually, my cohort created new traditions. While I enjoy the tailgates, boat parties, and Whistler trips to connect with my cohort outside of the classroom, in March 2021 the Women in Business Club put on Foster Connects, an event where students could share their stories on a specific topic. Foster Connects happened on International Women’s Day and women in the program were invited to share our stories. I felt extremely vulnerable and shared a very personal story. I was not sure how it would be received, but my classmates were supportive and warm after I spoke. It was a safe space where I also was able to hear the inspiring and courageous stories of my fellow women classmates.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Throughout my MBA experience, I was authentic to who I am as a person and was not afraid to show it to my classmates. I danced with resilience through the goals I had set for business school and had challenges along the way, but continued to stay open-minded and lean on my community through the challenges. I really wouldn’t change anything, I fully believe I made my decisions in real-time with the information I had, and that I am who I am today due to those decisions and my time at Foster. I was proactive in connecting with my community, learning in the academic environment, driving impact through my student leadership positions, and exploring career opportunities. I prioritized what was important to me while also leaving room for spontaneity.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Something I heard about Foster was that everyone was going to go into the tech industry and that everyone loves the outdoors. I have many classmates who are going into the tech industry, but not all of them. Some classmates are going into finance, consulting, retail, and healthcare. I have seen a wide variety of interests and am excited to see everyone’s journey continue post-MBA. A good majority of my classmates love the outdoors, but again in different capacities. Some have hiked Mt. Rainer, and some go on a hike once a month. We all have our interests and Foster is open to all of them.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was most surprised by my classmates. I was entering business school and was worried I was going to be surrounded by people who were focused on themselves and who would see me as their competition. My classmates at Foster are the complete opposite. They are smart, kind, and take the time to make sure everyone is being elevated together. My classmates and I genuinely care for one another and want to see the success of each and every one of us. This was clear to me as we supported each other through our career search. Foster has specific Slack channels, #rejection and #interviewinvites, to encourage our classmates who might be down from a rejection and share knowledge to classmates who are interviewing at the same place. We do not see each other as competition, rather we see lifting all of us together will make everyone better.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose?  I shared my personal and professional journey through the application process and knew if I showed up as my authentic self the school would see that; I knew the right school would align with my path. I also took the time to connect with students, alumni, and working professionals to understand the different career paths I wanted to take. I got a sense of the different types of jobs I was going to transition to through my MBA and understood the day to day of those jobs.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Christopher Elliot. Chris is someone who exudes positive energy and inclusion. Chris has become someone whom I lean on in times where I have been unsure of the direction I am leading, and he has always been able to give me open and honest feedback while supporting me. He stays true to who he is and has worked with his peers to enhance DE&I at Foster through co-founding Mentorship Circles for MBA’s of Color and the Students of Color Town Halls. He acts as a Consortium Liaison and as MBA Association Executive Vice President of Operations supported our Executive Committee to ensure club operations. I admire Chris for all the work that he has done for Foster and our community, but more so as a friend and incredible human.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom is someone who has greatly influenced me in pursuing higher education. She is a single mother and an Iranian immigrant who encouraged me to never settle and to dream big. She has made choices in her life to put me first and to support the life that I have now. My mom pushes me to grow from my life experiences. I saw from a young age how she was strong, independent, and went after what she wanted and deserved. I would not be who I am today without her.

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

  1. A dream of mine would be to give a TED talk or be a keynote speaker at a leadership event.
  2. Start my own business

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? Nothing is constant; everything is changing. I love that I have ambition around my professional career, but to also slow down and think through how my career affects all parts of my life. Before the pandemic, before business school, I thought my career had to look a certain way and have certain titles. I now think of my career as more fluid and that there are multiple chapters to my career. This has allowed me to continue to stretch myself in my career journey and introduce me to new paths I wasn’t thinking about before.

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

“It has been my pleasure to work with Sasha during her time at Foster. Her communication, leadership, problem-solving skills, and ability to build an inclusive community enabled Sasha to be an invaluable asset to the Full-time MBA experience.

Serving as MBA Association president during COVID in a state with strict regulations was challenging. Sasha led by example to encourage constant testing, communicated Federal and local health guidelines to her classmates, and organized safe events and trips for her entire class. After being remote for the program’s first year, Sasha led 14 MBAA VPs to create and execute a return to the in-person MBA experience. Sasha communicated the needs and priorities of the student body to school leadership to preserve the full-time MBA experience. I was constantly impressed with her diplomacy to navigate difficult conversations with students or school leadership.

Finally, Sasha prioritizes self-care and inspires others to take care of one’s individual mental and emotional well-being.”

Norah Fisher
Director, Full-time and (Interim) Evening MBA Student Affairs


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