2023 Best & Brightest MBA: Allison Wise, Washington University (Olin)

Allison Wise

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“Proud African-American, living life enthusiastically, utilizing life experiences to bring representation to CPG marketing.”

Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI

Fun fact about yourself:

I did ballet for most of my life. I started at three and stopped a little after turning 18. When I was in high school, I auditioned for a professional ballet company, and for two years, I danced in their performances of the Nutcracker.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University, Bachelor of Arts in Marketing

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  GE Aviation, Lead Contract Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Starbucks Corporation, Seattle WA

Where will you be working after graduation? Starbucks Corporation, Seattle WA

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Center for Experiential Learning Scholar
  • Co-Liaison, Consortium at Olin
  • Weston Career Center Peer Coach
  • Vice President of Social Events, Olin Women in Business
  • Graduate Professional Council Representative
  • Forté Fellow
  • Olin Student Ambassador

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? What I’m most proud of isn’t an academic or extracurricular achievement but a personal achievement. I’ve held a part-time job the entire time I’ve been in business school, and I’m really proud that I’ve been able to handle the demands of a full-time MBA program and work at the same time. I’ve worked at a designer consignment store for almost two years, and I’ve learned so much from working there. I work intimately with the owner of the store and have been able to learn the ins-and-outs of running a small business. As a career switcher into marketing, I’ve also gained hands-on experience with key skills that I will be able to utilize in my full-time role, such as business differentiation strategy, inventory management, and customer segmentation. Many people thought I was crazy for working through business school, but it truly is one of my proudest achievements over the last two years because I successfully balanced both.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Before starting business school, I was very involved in several employee resource groups, specifically the early career professional organization. I was a member for a year and then joined the board. As the vice president of networking, I created the organization’s first “cross-functional” speed networking event to help the company improve the low retention rate of younger talent. The speed networking event allowed early-career employees to learn about new roles they otherwise would not have known, which created a more significant opportunity for them to take their next role within the company. Also, the event fostered new relationships between employees from various departments across the company. The event was widely successful and caught the eye of an executive who implemented a similar event in his department. I’m proud that I was able to help the company by providing an innovative solution to an issue that was occurring and further fostering relationships among my peers.

Why did you choose this business school?I chose to attend WashU Olin for business school because it was a Consortium school. Of all the schools I applied to, WashU Olin was the only Consortium school, and it was the main differentiator when deciding on a business school. I really fell in love with how close-knit the Consortium @ Olin community is. I knew that having a built-in community the minute I stepped on campus would be a game-changer – and it has been. I’ve been able to build lifelong friends through Consortium, obtained several internship offers through the network, and I plan to be a contributing alumnus in the future.

I currently serve as one of our co-liaisons for Consortium @ Olin because I truly believe in the mission of Consortium, and I want other students who align with Consortium’s mission to be fostered by our Olin Consortium community like I was.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Professor Michael Wall, a professor of practice in Marketing and entrepreneurship. He’s also the academic director for the marketing platform for Olin’s MBA program. As a student who completed the marketing platform, I took many classes with him in my first year, so I got to know him well. Professor Wall brings a lot of his industry experience into the classroom and is always looking for new and innovative ways to teach students the ins-and-outs of marketing. I went to Professor Wall to discuss my internship options, and his advice has helped me become a well-rounded brand manager and marketing professional. He also was a part of the Poets & Quants, Favorite Professors Class of 2021 and 2022, so there is hard data behind him being my favorite MBA professor.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course as an MBA was MGT 5311: Introduction to Management and Strategy. This course is a part of our core curriculum and was my first introduction to strategy. Even though I’m not pursuing consulting, the course laid the framework for me to think through problems strategically and utilize analytical frameworks. The skills I learned in this course have aided me throughout my business school journey, especially through the several consulting projects I’ve worked on and during my summer internship. The class also provided me with an opportunity to understand global business challenges through an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset, which I know will be something I’ll utilize for the remainder of my professional career.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Olin Women in Business puts on a yearly event called “Men as Allies” with Professor Seth Carnahan that is widely attended by all students. The interactive workshop creates space to discuss gender equity and how men can be effective allies in situations where women are not always supported. The workshop provides extremely useful skills and tools to the attendees about allyship in general and best practices on how to intervene. It is one of my favorite events because Professor Carnahan does an amazing job facilitating the event through research-based best practices and because it sparks conversation amongst the student body, which creates an opportunity to keep the conversation going on a more regular basis. The “Men as Allies” event shows that Olin is part of the movement and conversation to make business school and the workplace more inclusive. It is doing so by having the next business leaders (their students) be equipped with the tools to be change agents. Not just men but many people don’t realize the impact of their allyship and just how much power they hold, and this event brings life to their power.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? One thing I would have done differently during my MBA experience would be to participate in a case competition. Being in a case competition is an experience so unique to an MBA program. Working closely with my classmates on a case team would have been a challenging and rewarding experience I could leverage in the future. However, I have had several other fulfilling opportunities to work closely with several classmates to solve challenging business problems. One was as team lead for a practicum project through the Center for Experiential Learning. Additionally, I was able to participate in the Venture Advising program where I traveled to Israel with my fellow classmates and consulted for a tech startup company.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I’m not aware of any myths about Olin or WashU. If there were one, it would probably be that the students at Olin are all from rich families and stuck up, which is the furthest from the truth. Olin is a diverse and inclusive community with students from all places and backgrounds. Even with our different backgrounds, we are able to come together and find similarities and work closely together. I think that has been the beauty of attending a business school like Olin.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? To be honest, St. Louis is on the rise and on the brink of a major comeback. It’s an exciting time to live in St. Louis and see the positive changes that are being made in the various neighborhoods around campus. St. Louis is a city that has a very contentious history in terms of political injustice and race relations, and that history has definitely left its mark on the area. However, there is this buzz in the community as new restaurants and entertainment venues open and a new professional soccer team comes to the city, all of which are bringing people of all races and socioeconomic statuses together. Not to mention St. Louis is a highly affordable place to live with amazing museums and cultural attractions, many of which are free. It has made St. Louis a very enjoyable place to live and attend business school.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me most about business school is how much the Olin professors truly care about us, not just as students but as people. In undergrad, I had professors who never knew my name. My experience has been completely different in business school at Olin. Every professor has genuinely taken the time to get to know us students beyond our names, and they have taken an interest in our career aspirations and personal goals. I knew that Olin had very distinguished and established professors, but I was genuinely surprised by how invested they are in the success of their students.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think one thing that gave me an edge in my application process is that I was brutally honest and sincere. I spoke about my successes and failures, what I learned from both, and what I hoped to accomplish while in business school. I came from the aviation industry, so I was a career switcher and knew very little about brand management before starting business school. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and my application included the transferrable skills I had obtained from my previous roles that could be utilized in marketing. I also showcased a passion for wanting to be at Olin. Olin was my first choice for business school, and I knew that I had just as much to give to Olin as Olin would be able to give to me. I included that in my application and communicated that I would be an active and impactful member of the Olin community.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I highly admire my classmate Livi Logan-Wood. She is a dual-degree MBA/MSW student and has balanced the demands of two rigorous programs with grace and class. Throughout our time in the MBA program, she has gone above and beyond to support every student organization. She is the first person to take on a task no one else wants to do and has shown to be an advocate for women, minorities and the LGBTQ+ community within Olin and in the workplace. She is the embodiment of every Olin value and has made both of her programs better through her innovative ideas, ability to effortlessly collaborate with others, and enthusiasm for learning. Livi has pushed me to be a more thought-provoking and inclusive student, and my experience in the MBA program at Olin was better because of her.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? The first item on my professional bucket list is that I would love the opportunity to consult for a black-owned brand/designer. Black-owned brands have single-handedly influenced and changed all industries through the marketing tools and techniques utilized to reach consumers. Brands like Hanifa and Telfar have quite literally broken the internet and disrupted the fashion industry. They’ve broken the mode and have challenged what is considered marketing. I know for a fact that black creatives are not done disrupting and being innovative, and as a future brand manager providing insight into this unique space is definitely on my professional buck list.

Secondly, I aspire to inspire other minority black and brown women to pursue marketing careers. Representation is so important both on the business side of marketing and the marketing that reaches consumers. I believe that having other minority women at the table within marketing will address a need in society and within marginalized communities to further create diversity of thought in order to expand the consumer base range. I hope to be an individual who can “lift as we climb,” and create opportunities within the industry and inspire others to be a part of their marketing organizations.

What made Allison such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“A great way to contextualize the impact of Allison’s time at Olin is through our higher purpose statement of discovering knowledge, enriching people, and advancing business to change the world, for good.

Allison’s discovery of knowledge is best illustrated through her commitment in the classroom, excelling in our global immersion, core curriculum, elective courses, and experiential learning programs. For example, Allison participated in Olin’s Venture Advising Program, traveling internationally to work with a startup in a real-world setting to help them advance their innovation.

Allison’s enrichment of others is known to the students, faculty, staff, and members of the broader community whom she has engaged with during her tenure at the school. For example, Allison served as CEL Scholar, a prestigious role where Allison guided and empowered various experiential learning student teams for Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning.

Allison’s advancement of business to change the world, for good, can be seen through her various corporate engagements at the school. For example, she led a team of five students from multiple programs at Washington University in St. Louis to help The Black Rep, an organization focused on creating a more equitable distribution of opportunities and resources for Black professionals and students in the theater, advance their mission.

Allison’s compassion, thoughtfulness, and genuine desire to change the world, for good, have enabled her to make a true impact during her time at Olin. Having a purpose statement is valuable. Having someone like Allison who delivers on its commitment is invaluable.”

Professor Michael Wall
Professor of Practice in Marketing and Entrepreneurship
Co-Director of the Center for Analytics and Business Insights (CABI)


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